There’s a storyline in vogue among those who would defund the cops that claims that modern policing grew out of the vile squads that hunted runaway slaves. “From slave patrols to traffic stops. We can’t reform this,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) recently admonished.
It’s a slur, and a dangerous one: Modern police didn’t get their start as slave patrols, and saying so is just one more way activists stir up anger against law enforcement. Such ahistorical statements silence vital dialogue about police reform and decrease trust.
Most of the 18,000 US police agencies were founded after abolition, and many were explicitly modeled on modern concepts of policing invented by the British. And the officers in many major cities — including LA, Houston and Atlanta — are mainly minorities. To call the increasingly diverse ranks of the police some kind of modern slave-driving force is offensive and obscene.
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