Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

The History Of Law Enforcement Criminology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 1838 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

Reference this

 Depending on where it is in the world, there is some type of law enforcement that plays a role in the community, or even in everyday life. Law enforcement is not some new concept or anything like that; it has been around in multiple shapes and forms from early civilizations to present day ones, other ways to examine it would be the people who were some of the first ‘police forces’ as well as its introduction into America and other factors leading up to how it is present day.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

Although there were several civilizations that used law enforcement, it was said to be argued that Egypt, the first known civilization, was a police state. Although it is also widely accepted that the Roman Vigiles were the first organized police force. While each country, used a different method for how they enforced laws.  From the earliest known method, was kin policing, which was what basically said that the offender’s family would have the responsibility with punishing said offender, whether it be brandishing or capture, or even mutilation. Besides this, another recognized solution to problem, was simple mediation. Other forms of enforcement would come from places like Africa and Greece, where in Africa they would have trials were done while sitting down on three legged stools, and in Greece where they had jury trials. Sparta would have ‘Mercenary systems. The Middle Ages would have either no system of law enforcement or one of two systems, but instead (depending on where it was in the world) it would end up being a watch system which is volunteering to patrol streets from sunset to rise. One of the two aforementioned systems was the Gendarme System; one that would be located in French and some Romantic speaking countries. Gendarmes (which in English could be labeled as ‘marshal or inspector’) can travel anywhere to bring people to justice, and are also agents of the crown. The pay for Gendarmes is based upon their performance during the actual job. Another system that was located in England, named the Pledge System, was a system where people were in charge of their police work, but instead of volunteering they are required to do at least some kind of police work, unless excused by someone who appoints people as constables. Although in several cultures, People were volunteer watchmen, this was not always the case, and there were several groups of people who wound up becoming a part of law enforcement simply due to them being ordered to.

            During the ‘birth of civilization’ in Mesopotamia, several cities were constantly in a state of welfare, and literally were looking at people and trying to select them based upon which of them had the closest appearance to a police officer. Nubian slaves, wound up being be the first police force, and would act as marketplace and Praetorian guards, or other mercenary like jobs. One of the reasons behind their selection was that they physically stood out compared to other Mesopotamians, and they believed that visibility was a principle to crime control. Similar to how Nubian slaves were used as policemen, so would the Scythian slaves from ancient Greece, the 300 of them had been bought after a war, and would then be charged with keeping peace and order in public places. Although Nubian Slaves were the ‘first’ police force, as some would say, Roman Vigiles would be the first organized police force, a neither nonmilitary nor mercenary group. Created by the Grandnephew of Julius Caesar, who took the name Augustus Caesar, he would first create a Praetorian Guard, to protect him from assassination, divided into 9 groups of 1000 people each, however this would eventually backfire as the guard would begin to be involved in the assassination plots themselves, until disbanded or reabsorbed by the military. The roman emperor would also create a fire brigade, usually comprised of slaves and people who couldn’t make it into the Praetorian guards, and served as a force to enforce fire safety during daytime hours, although they weren’t the best at it. Vigiles in a sense were a best of both worlds, and would fight fires, as well as act as law enforcement group and arrest law breakers. Although it should be noted that there had been a difference between actual police, and people who were actually doing the police duties, as being a policeman was said to be a lowly job, while the police authorities typically was a job for the higher members of the social class. Watchmen would be one of the first figures of law enforcement in the United States.

            Much of America’s institutions would be inherited from Great Britain; Law enforcement would be an example of this just as common law would also be adopted. The first Europeans upon landing on America’s shores for the first time would create a police force of all able-bodied men (even young boys) to protect themselves from others who did not wish to share land. Once things got situated as far as maintain order, law breakers could be seen in Pillories which were a wooden lock attached to a pole that one would have to put their arms and head through or stocks which were similar to pillories except instead of being locked to the ground by a pole they were only locked to the person’s arms or legs (or both) and it was not attached to a pole meaning you could walk around , as punishment or repayment to society, this was called the Justice of the Peace system, only to become outdated as the towns turned into cities where it would become a paid police force. The Night watch, established in 1636 in the city of Boston which worked well while the area was a rural area. Sometime between the Revolutionary and Civil wars, the growth of population and industrialization in America caused the increased need for a municipal police department, but this would not be met until 1833, where in Philadelphia organized a 24 hour a day police force. And New York would have two forces, one for Day, and another for night. Although this was met with some backlash from the American people, who were wary of a full time Police force. When it came to inherited things, came the Sheriff system, typically selected by his reputation, he would become the chief law enforcement official and although it still exists today, it’s a more formal slash political version compared to its past self. In America, typically the places where ‘change’ was typically made, or created for the  law enforcement was in places like New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston, although it would become widely accepted to have an education in order to become an officer.


            Schools that had classes that had to do with law enforcement such as police sciences, general law enforcement, and other criminal law programs were not uncommon prior to World War 1, this had also been similar to Europe where they would study crime as a whole. Institutions played a major role in the educational needs of the police service, and Educational Offices regarded them as the “brightest hopes in higher education.” From 1929 to 1932, the University of South Carolina had offered Police Courses, and Indiana would also offer four years for Police Science. Although typically seen as the good guys of law enforcement, with the adoption of investigators, came one of Law enforcement’ bigger shames, Namely Corruption, which usually was caused by the police chiefs, who were appointed to political bosses, where the bosses or typically any individual who had an amount of money, or some other form of gain, would give ‘donations’ to the chiefs, in order to have them overlook various affairs. Some of the acts that were associated with this were given several names, depending on what the gain was; a ‘shakedown’ was the term for the overlooking affairs. ‘Fixing’ was when an officer would withhold evidence or failing to appear at a judicial hearing, or for a personal favor. Planting things like drugs, or adding evidence that was not originally there was  called a ‘frame-up’ and finally Ticket fixing, where if the receiver of the ticket was a family or friend, the officer would cancel it as a favor to the person. There are still several other terms and acts that have to do with Corruption, but those were a few of them. Police would be assigned to places like mentioned earlier; to a political figure, along the road to keep potential never-do-wells from breaking the laws, such as speeding or drunk driving.


The types of crime typically committed in a society and the methods used by criminals play a great part in determining a police force’s activities. For instance, if criminals use firearms, the police are likely to be armed, or if criminals use computers to commit crimes, the police may establish a special unit dedicated to investigating cyber-crimes. Population plays an important role as well; policing rural areas and villages vastly differs from policing large cities. Foremost among the factors that determine a country’s system of policing.

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

In a smaller community, most people willingly obey most laws, whether a police officer is present or not. They comply with the laws because they consider them fair and because they believe that in the long run it is in their interest to observe them. In small communities in which most citizens know each other, people who live up to the community’s shared ideals are rewarded with the esteem of their fellow citizens, if a law is broken, they can be used as the subject of shame in the community, where on the opposite side, they can be rewarded for living up to the communities standards. This system of informal reward and penalties acts as a strong aid to law enforcement, although it’s typically stronger in a smaller community.

In larger and more complex societies, informal institutions of social control are generally weaker, and, as a result, formal institutions are generally stronger. The relative weakness of informal controls is attributable to a number of factors. In large societies people often deal with strangers whom they will never meet again, and in such circumstances there may be fewer informal rewards for honesty or fewer informal penalties for dishonesty.

            Police span from the Early Mesopotamian and Egyptian eras, to the Middle Ages, and even present day, existing in some shape or form across the world with numerous changes in the way they looked, functioned, or even on how they obtained the job.  They had several predecessors in a sense, in the form of Nubian and Scythian slaves, Vigiles, and the night watch; they have had their ups and downs, such as the educational systems opinion of them, or the corrupt acts some of them have committed. All the same though, they remain as a active part of everyday life.




Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: