At first the quality of officers was poor. Of the first 2,800 new policemen, only 600 eventually kept their jobs. The first policeman ever (who was given the number 1), was sacked after only four hours, for drunkenness. Things eventually settled down.
In Mesopotamia, the rise of cities like Uruk, Umma, Eridu, Lagash, and Ur is widely regarded as the "birth of civilization". However, these cities were in a state of constant warfare, and in terms of looking at which residents bore the closest resemblance to police officers, the argument could be made that captured Nubian slaves were the first police force. This group was often put to work as marketplace guards, Praetorian guards, or in other mercenary-like positions. As a police force, their different color, stature, and manner of dress made them quite visible among the Mesopotamians. The idea of visibility could then be regarded as the first principle of crime control.
It's widely recognized that the first organized police force were the Roman vigiles, the first group of nonmilitary and nonmercenary police. They were created by Gaius Octavius, the grand nephew of Julius Caesar, around 27 B.C. After his uncle was assassinated, little Octavius swore revenge and rose to power with a desire to reform Roman society. Once he became ruler, he took the name Augustus Caesar, or more simply Augustus, the first emperor of Rome. Let's take a close look at the steps involved in establishment of the world's first organized police force:
These informal modalities of policing continued well after the American Revolution. It was not until the 1830s that the idea of a centralized municipal police department first emerged in the United States. In 1838, the city of Boston established the first American police force, followed by New York City in 1845, Albany, NY and Chicago in 1851, New Orleans and Cincinnati in 1853, Philadelphia in 1855, and Newark, NJ and Baltimore in 1857 (Harring 1983, Lundman 1980; Lynch 1984). By the 1880s all major U.S. cities had municipal police forces in place.
The first Police Force in London
Founder of the Metropolitan Police
The police force, as we know it today, did not exist until 1856. Before then, most places had only an unpaid parish constable to keep order.
'Peelers' or 'Bobbies'
The first policemen, known as 'Peelers' or 'Bobbies', were set up in London in 1829 by Robert Peel, the then Home Secretary, after 'The Metropolitan Police Act' of 1829. The act provided permanently appointed and paid Constables.
The first thousand of Peel’s police began to patrol the streets of London on 29th September 1829.
Who was Robert Peel?
Robert Peel was born on 5 February 1788 in Bury, Lancashire. He became a British MP and later, Prime Minister. He was most concerned about public safety and criminal reform, and was responsible for establishing the first police force in London. Since that time British police have raditionally been know as 'Bobbies'.
The uniform was carefully selected to make the ‘Peelers’ look more like ordinary citizens, rather that a red-coated soldier with a helmet.
The 'Peelers' wore a long blue coats and strengthened tall hats, which protected them from blows to the head and they could use to stand on to look over walls. Their only weapon was a wooden truncheon carried in a long pocket in the tail of their coat They also carried a pair of handcuffs and a wooden rattle to raise the alarm. By the 1880s this rattle had been replaced by a whistle.
Find out about British Policemen today
Also on this day.....
UNICEF Day for Change