U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Southern Slave Patrols as a Transitional Police Type

NCJ Number
American Journal of Police Volume: 7 Issue: 2 Dated: (1988) Pages: 51-77
P L Reichel
Date Published
27 pages
The slave patrols that were used in the Southern slave States from 1704 through the period before the Civil War are an example of policing that went beyond informal policing but did not have the characteristics of modern policing and also represent a development not usually covered in histories that suggest that the evolution of policing was essentially Northern and urban in nature.
The slave patrols consisted of citizens who regulated the activity of slaves as their civic obligation for pay, rewards, or exemption from other duties. Unlike the watches, constables, and sheriffs who had some nonpolicing duties, the slave patrols operated solely for the enforcement of colonial and State laws. The existence of these patrols shows that important events occurred in the rural South before and concurrently with events in the urban North that are more typically cited in examples of the evolution of policing in the United States. In addition, the patrols show that modern policing is not simply a formalization of previously informal activities. Instead, modern policing seems to have passed through developmental stages that can be explained by typologies such as that of Lundman, who described informal, transitional, and modern types of policing. 49 references.


No download available