Jul 8, 2020
We’ve been hearing a LOT about #DefundThePolice, which doesn’t
mean exactly what it sounds like; we’re not here at this point to
argue the pros or cons of defunding the police, but what we love to
do is to unpack the why behind things, the history of
things, so we can better understand what is really happening right
Today we’re looking at a big historical question that’s central
to this whole argument about the police. Why were police formed
in the United States? For some of us, we may assume that
policing in the United States is as old as this country itself. And
that’s not really the truth.
So what is the truth? Glad you asked…
Have questions, comments, or concerns? Email us at
What to listen for:
- The colonial form of policing, and
how informal it was at the very beginning.
- Who funded the police force in 19th century America - and what
they wanted the police to focus on protecting. Hint: motivations
split between Northern and Southern lines.
- How the structure and funding of the police had to change as cities,
and the country, grew, and yet how they served to reinforce
hierarchies in society.
- Given this, what do YOU think? Can an organization with roots
like this be race-blind in its policies and actions? If not, what
would it take to change?
- We offer some personal histories as we reflect on policing, and
how ordinary people can make a difference.
- If you want more, we mention this episode of NPR’s THROUGHLINE a lot here.
- We put out a 3-episode arc on the history of domestic terrorism
in the United States, including the different forms of the
KKK. Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.
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