A Brief History of Slavery and the Origins of American Policing
Written by Victor E. Kappeler, Ph.D., Eastern Kentucky University
The birth and development of the American police can be traced to a multitude of historical, legal and political-economic conditions. The institution of slavery and the control of minorities, however, were two of the more formidable historic features of American society shaping early policing. Slave patrols and Night Watches, which later became modern police departments, were both designed to control the behaviors of minorities. For example, New England settlers appointed Indian Constables to police Native Americans (National Constable Association, 1995), the St. Louis police were founded to protect residents from Native Americans in that frontier city, and many southern police departments began as slave patrols.
In 1704, the colony of Carolina developed the nation’s first slave patrol. Slave patrols helped to maintain the economic order and to assist the wealthy landowners in recovering and punishing slaves who essentially were considered property. Continue reading →
Police detective: Misleading narrative presented to Freddie Gray grand jury
By Justin Fenton, June 25 2016
The lead Baltimore police detective in the Freddie Gray investigation said she reluctantly read to grand jurors a summary of evidence provided by prosecutors that she believed was misleading, according to police records reviewed by The Baltimore Sun. Hours later, the grand jurors issued criminal indictments against six police officers in the arrest and death of Gray.
Detective Dawnyell Taylor said in a daily log of case notes on the investigation that a prosecutor handed her a four-page, typed narrative at the courthouse just before she appeared before the grand jury. “As I read over the narrative it had several things that I found to be inconsistent with our investigation,” Taylor wrote, adding: “I thought the statements in the narrative were misquoted.”
But, she wrote, she was “conflicted” about challenging the state’s attorney on the narrative in the courtroom. “With great conflict I was sworn in and read the narrative provided,” she said in her notes. When the jurors asked questions, including whether Gray’s arrest was legal, Taylor wrote that prosecutors intervened before she could give an answer that would conflict with their assessment. Continue reading →
‘Rough Rides’ and the Challenges of Improving Police Culture
By David A. Graham, Apr 27, 2015
A rough ride. Bringing them up front. A screen test. A cowboy ride. A nickel ride.
Police say that intentionally banging a suspect around in the back of a van isn’t common practice. But the range of slang terms to describe the practice suggests it’s more common that anyone would hope—and a roster of cases show that Freddie Gray is hardly the first person whose serious injuries allegedly occurred while in police transit. Citizens have accused police of using aggressive driving to rough suspects up for decades in jurisdictions across the country. Though experts don’t think it’s a widespread practice, rough rides have injured many people, frayed relationships, and cost taxpayers, including Baltimore’s, millions of dollars in damages.
Gray’s funeral was Monday, eight days after he died and two weeks after he was arrested by Baltimore police under murky circumstances. President Obama sent three aides, including the chair of his My Brother’s Keeper task force, to the burial. Protests have roiled the streets of Baltimore ever since Gray died, forcing the city to reckon with a troubled police department and its fraught relationship with black citizens. Continue reading →
Timeline: Freddie Gray’s arrest, death and the aftermath From Baltimore Sun
April 12, 2015
Four officers on bicycles attempted to stop Freddie Gray and another man, who ran after seeing police at the intersection of W. North Avenue and N. Mount Street. “A lieutenant begins pursuing Mr. Gray after making eye contact with two individuals, one of which is Mr. Gray,” Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said.
April 12, 2015
Police caught and arrested Gray in the 1700 block of Presbury Street. Police said Gray stopped voluntarily and they did not use any force. An officer took out his Taser but did not use it, police said. “That has been verified by downloading the information on the Taser and also by the physical evidence on Mr. Gray’s body,” Rodriguez said.
The Mysterious Death of Freddie Gray
By David A. Graham, Apr 22, 2015
When the Baltimore man was arrested, he was alive and well. By the time he reached a police station, he couldn’t breathe or talk. What happened?
Freddie Gray’s death on April 19 leaves many unanswered questions. But it is clear that when Gray was arrested in West Baltimore on the morning of April 12, he was struggling to walk. By the time he arrived at the police station a half hour later, he was unable to breathe or talk, suffering from wounds that would kill him.*
Gray died Sunday from spinal injuries. Baltimore authorities say they’re investigating how the 25-year-old was hurt—a somewhat perverse notion, given that it was while he was in police custody, and hidden from public view, that he apparently suffered injury. How it happened remains unknown.
It’s even difficult to understand why officers arrested Gray in the first place. But with protesters taking to the streets of Baltimore since Gray’s death on Sunday, the incident falls into a line of highly publicized, fatal encounters between black men and the police. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, a reserve sheriff’s deputy in Tulsa, Continue reading →