Police History: Constable vs. Paramilitary

Calls to abolish or massively reform America’s police sound new and radical. Yet history offers a very old model for those reforms: an alternative to our current military style of policing. In the world of the Founding Fathers, civilian constables enforced the law. They had done so for 150 years in the American colonies — and for longer in England. And they would continue well into the 19th Century.

police history: a constable or beadle
An English constable (technically, a beadle)

In America today, local police wear army-style uniforms, give and receive orders, and use military ranks such as sergeant and lieutenant. They also train like soldiers, practicing drill formations, snapping to attention before superiors, and even polishing boots. In other words, they operate a lot like soldiers — like troops in a “standing army.” How did we get here? Continue reading “Police History: Constable vs. Paramilitary”