Faculty Lecture Series

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 7:30pm

‘Modern American Policing: Past, Present, and a Roadmap for the Future’

Modern American policing is at a crossroads. At only approximately 160 years old, modern policing is a very new institution. Begun in response to the ending of slavery and society’s perceived need to continue to oppress that population, recent years have shown that policing cannot be understood without acknowledging its racially discriminatory nature. While experts have known this since modern policing’s advent, we all now must confront this discrimination.

This lecture will do three things.

  • First, it will detail the past of modern American policing, from its advent in the mid-19th century, through the sanctioned torture that police called the third degree, and the continued use of the police to oppress racial, political, and religious minorities, creating a system of criminal justice that favors white people over others.
  • Second, it will discuss the current reality of modern American policing, along with the debates for reform or retrenchment that have arisen in the Black Lives Matter era, and mass media’s role in this time.
  • Third, it will suggest a roadmap forward, based on two true, and competing, but not mutually exclusive narratives: that modern American policing is dangerous and police should enjoy great deference to act in dynamic situations, and that modern American policing is fundamentally, and deeply, racially discriminatory.

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