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Police Administration and Progressive Reform: Theodore Roosevelt as Police Commissioner of New York

NCJ Number
J S Berman
Date Published
151 pages
This book examines Theodore Roosevelt's term as police commissioner of New York City (1895-1897) in the context of Progressive Era urban reform, analyzing the professional model Roosevelt developed, its strengths and weaknesses, and its implications for contemporary criminal justice.
The analysis is based on police department records and other public documents, personal correspondence, newspaper articles of the period, and Roosevelt's own writings. Based on a professional model, Roosevelt's approach created efficiency through strong centralized control; strict standards of recruitment, training, and discipline; the application of modern technology; and the defining and limiting of the police function. The moralistic and legalistic style of law enforcement emphasized under the model involved strict enforcement of criminal laws, particularly those relating to vice. The failure of this strict enforcement policy demonstrates the difficulty of implementing laws that do not reflect a moral consensus in a pluralistic society. The significance of Roosevelt's administration was the sweeping reorganization of a corrupt, inefficient agency under a reform model that became the ideological foundation for American police administration in the 20th century. Chapter notes, subject index, and 110-item bibliography.


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