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The Policeman’s Lot
Benevolent father figure? Bloody-handed Cossack? Slow-witted flatfoot? Irish grafter? Brave but underpaid public servant? Check your prejudice against this inquiry into police history
February 1970 | Volume 21, Issue 2
“The police … are virtually in a state of mutiny. Their hearts are not in their work, they have no pride in their office, they have the inclination to evade duty, give service grudgingly, and are constantly praying for a change. A sullen, discontented and discouraged army will not win battles. …”
A contemporary sociologist, describing the current crisis in the American police? No, it is William McAdoo. describing the New York Police Department shortly before he became its commissioner in 1904.
In recent months the reading public has been almost buried under an avalanche of books and magazine articles about the supposedly sorry plight of American policemen. They have been analyzed psychiatrically their behavior attributed to their “harsh and punitive fathers"; they have been probed sociologically, their attitudes explained by their “bluecollar background”; and they have been accused of endemic fascism and racism, corruption and brutality. On the other hand, the policeman has been defended as an individual who works on “the cutting edge of social conditions,” and news magazines have worried over the fact that “the average cop feels that he is unappreciated or even actively disliked by the public he serves.”
In this proliferation of comment and observation, one approach has been strikingly absent—the view from the past. Yet a grasp of the history of the police in America is absolutely essential if we are to understand their contemporary dilemma. Many of the reckless judgments being passed on them, and the equally reckless demands being made on them, can be explained only by an almost total lack of historical perspective. Sonic of the “solutions” emanating from a small army of sociologists, psychiatrists, lawyers, writers, and politicians become instantly fatuous when viewed in this perspective. A University of Chicago sociologist, Jerome Skolnick, recently suggested, for instance, that policemen should abandon their uniforms in order to bring them “closer to their fellow citixens.” Other social tinkerers, pursuing this same sentimental trend of thought, have suggested making the police subject to neighborhood control. Such proposals betray an almost unbelievable ignorance about the history of the police.
The policeman has always occupied an uncomfortable, ambiguous position in American society. The explanation lies in our English traditions and their intensification by the republican ideas of the American Revolution. To eighteenth-century Englishmen and their countrymen in America the police looked too much like that bete noire of all political idealists, the king’s standing army. So, in both the mother country and the colonies, cities tried to get along with a haphazard dual police force: watchmen who patrolled by night, with orders simply to keep the city peaceful, and a tiny group of day police who functioned as court officers and embryo detectives—but who often spent more time worrying about the city’s sanitary conditions. The 1834 report of Boston’s city marshal, for instance, discussed privies and drains exhaustively and did not even mention crime or criminals.
Not until 1829 did London form a unified police force. New York did not follow this lead until 1845, and other American cities not until the 1950’s. In London a very severe crime wave was the final persuader. In America the impetus came from a series of massive riots that shook major cities from the mid-iSgo’s onward. For decades 1834 was known in New York as “the year of riots.” Almost always they were clashes between immigrants and native Americans.
In Boston, on June 11, 1837, a mob of fifteen thousand, more than one sixth of the city’s population, battled in the streets. Again and again, in city after city, only bayonet-wielding militia, often backed by cannon, restored order. At a time when some people seem to be blaming the police for the upheavals that have shaken our cities, it is important to recall that the police department was originally created in response to massive disorder bordering on anarchy. The very last thing the police needed was to be “controlled” by any “neighborhood.”
For those who like to think nostalgically that in the good old days police (along with everything else) were better than they arc today, history has another rude shock. One word sums up these first police departments: wretched. Policemen were usually nominated by aldermen, and their tenure was for one year. The criterion of selection was almost totally political. There were no standards such as age, physical fitness, or literacy. The only uniform was a copper badge (which gave policemen their first nickname), and they looked, said one disgusted observer, “like Falstaft’s regiment.” New York’s chief, three-hundred-pound George Matsell, a former police magistrate, had no power whatsoever to appoint, assign, or remove policemen; the mayor and the common council kept this right securely in their own hands.
The result was an almost total exposure of the police department to political pressure. Policemen and aldermen were in effect running on the same ticket each year, and the policeman naturally went all out to protect his bread and butter. He made no attempt whatsoever to interfere with the violent election tactics of his day; indeed, sometimes he engaged in dub-swinging of his own on behalf of his political protector. Tin’s brand of neighborhood control soon reduced the New York police force almost to chaos. When they were certain of political protection, policemen assaulted superior officers, refused to go on patrol, prevented other policemen from arresting their friends, and regularly extorted money from prisoners. In 1857 the district attorney of New York County complained, “There is really no head of police at all”; and one public-spirited citizen, James W. Gerard, lamented, “They inspire no respect, they create no fear.”
There was only one bit of wisdom applied in the appointment of these early policemen—their pay. From the first, they were obviously intended to be a cut above the lower classes and even the lower middle classes. They got twice the going salary of a common laborer and more than even a master craftsman. This was the main reason policemen declined to wear a uniform: they felt that it made them resemble army regulars—who were recruited from the lowest social class. It took desperate measures to persuade police to don even a rudimentary uniform. Only the advent of the Civil War, which made a uniform respectable and even patriotic, resolved the dilemma.
Pleas from reformers soon persuaded legislatures and common councils to give policemen tenure for life, dependent on good behavior. But this only plunged them deeper into politics, by making the job an even juicier patronage plum. In a travesty of the democratic process, San Francisco, Chicago, Cleveland, and several other cities required the chief of police to run for office. State legislatures duelled city councils for the control of police departments, with the focus of the struggle almost always warfare between native Americans and immigrants.
In New York the Republican-dominated state legislature snatched control of the police from Mayor Fernando Wood in 1857 and created a “metropolitan” force that policed New York and surrounding counties, including Westchester. At one point Wood’s “municipals” and the new “metropolitans” met in a clubswinging melee on the steps of City Hall. In 1870 Boss William Marcy Tweed literally bought control back from the state. In Maryland it was a Democratic legislature that in 1860 wrested control of the Baltimore police from antislavery Republicans, in Illinois it was a Republican legislature that deprived the Democratic Chicago city government of police control in 1861. In Cleveland, on the other hand, the citizens in iSGG begged the legislature to step in because, in the words of one local newspaper, “the Police Department was a huge political machine.” With the chief of police elected by popular vote, “thieves and bummers … were the masters of the police instead of the police being their masters.”
Today we hear a great deal about the policeman as a man caught between black and white, or between American and Puerto Rican, cultures. This was precisely where he was a hundred years ago, except that then he was caught between reform-minded native Americans and European immigrants. There was, admittedly, much to reform in the new arrivals, but instead of attacking the roots of their troubles—slum housing and starvation wages—native Americans struck at the external results of these woes: the immigrants’ widespread drunkenness and criminality. This reformist spirit swiftly escalated into a social perfectionism that still haunts American society—an insistence that the nation as a whole should achieve an impeccable standard of morality. Close the saloons (at least on Sunday), eliminate the brothels and gambling dens, and those who enjoy such pleasures will swiftly vanish. So went the fatuous reasoning, and a native American triumph at the polls in the early days of the police meant a new attempt to shut down the policy shops and enforce Sunday-closing ordinances. Hut in the era ol the six-day work week Sunday was the only day the immigrant had a chance to relax; even the normally peaceful Germans were prone to riot when the police tried to close their beer halls.
Confronted with an impossible situation, the police force simply decided to ignore such laws. They emphasized instead the old night-watchman tradition and let the supposedly evil saloonkeepers and policy runners operate as long as they did so quietly. As for the brothels, the best people seemed to want them around, and who were the policemen to argue with their social superiors? The main reason the police were able to achieve this feat of noncnforcement with a minimum of social strain was that unique phenomenon in American police history—the Irish cop.
In 1851 the mayor of Boston, for purely political reasons, tried to put one Karney AIcGinniskin on the police force. The rest of the men protested, and the reason they gave said much about their self-image. They objected to AIcGinniskin not because he was Irish but because he was “a common calmian.” In New York the Irish invasion had by that time gathered far more momentum. In 1855 the native-American board of aldermen were accusing the chief of police of having six hundred “foreign-born” men on his force—most of them Irish. Nearly two thirds of the men Fernando Wood appointed in a single year had Irish names. Irish dominance of the force persisted for another eighty years in New York; as late as 1933 they numbered 7,204 in a force of twenty thousand. Even in 1965 the Emerald Society, the Irish organization of the New York police, had 8,500 members, go per cent of the force.
The Irish were ideally suited to play the role that politics had indicted on the police—that of bulfer between old and new Americans. For one thing, many of the immigrants were “their own kind": these new policemen, too, had come from a nation where discriminatory English laws were held in small respect. The Irish cop was therefore accustomed to making distinctions between “good” and “bad” laws that the average German or Scandinavian would have found it difficult if not impossible to make.
The Irish cops were tough on what they considered real crime. John A. Kennedy, who became head of New York’s force in 1857, did more to modernize police work than almost anyone else in the nineteenth century. Using the newly invented camera, lie began the nation’s first rogues’ gallery; he also created a genuine detective force, a harbor police, and a system of telegraphic’ communications to link his station houses. Shrewdly, he selected his biggest and best-looking men for the “Broadway squad,” where they were regularly seen by the city’s most influential citizens and where they soon won a reputation for gallantry by protecting laches from the perils of the street’s careering hacks and lumbering wagons.
Kennedy and his police coped magnificently with the most serious challenge to law and order in American history—the New York draft riots of 1863 (see “New York’s Bloodiest Week” in the June, 1959, AMERICAN HERITAGE ). Governor Horatio Seymour, whose criticisms of the draft had helped spark the three-clay upheaval, said the riots were “put down mainly by the energy, boldness and skill of the Police Department. In saying this I am certainly not influenced by prcjudice, for the force was politically, and in some degree personally, unfriendly to myself.” By this Seymour meant that Kennedy and many of his men were Republicans.
But this same force did practically nothing to enforce the nativist reform laws. New York, for example, had twenty thousand prostitutes during the Civil War; enforcement of the state s liquor laws was so lax that in 1866 only 754 out of 9,250 saloons had bothered to take out licenses.
Although this was undoubtedly the Irish application of the watchman tradition at work, another factor could not be ignored. For justification of their policy the police had only to point to the other arm of the law-enforcement process—the courts. They were totally in the grip of politics: judges were elected annually, and it was generally acknowledged that any magistrate who tried to enforce all the laws would be committing political suicide. A writer who attempted an expose of New York City’s judiciary in the 1860’s said it was so corrupt that the greatest city in America was on the brink of “hopeless barbarism.” In 1867 twenty New York policemen were injured in a Saint Patrick’s Day riot, but not a single rioter was sentenced to jail: all those arrested were released on trivial bail. District Attorney A. Oakey Hall—Boss Tweed’s future mayor —publicly boasted that in a typical year there were as many as ten thousand indictments (most of them liquor violations) that he did not bother to prosecute, for political reasons.
Underenforcement of the law as a policy left dangerous amounts of discretion to the police. After the Tweed scandals in New York, reformers were frequently on the warpath. This made protection risky, and the police began asking lor their share ol the proceeds of after-hours saloons, gambling joints, and brothels. It did not take long for this habit to get out of control. For New York and the nation the grim awakening came in the Lexow healings of 1894. The counsel for this state investigating committee, named for its chairman, State Senator Clarence Lexow, was John W. Goff, a forty-six-year-old lawyer born in County Wexford, Ireland. As irascible as lie was honest, Goff detested Tammany Hall, and lie soon converted his witness chair into “Goff’s Gridiron” for the New York Police Department.
Witness after witness testified to having paid captains and inspectors sums ranging from a few dollars to several thousand dollars a year. Appointments to the force, soft details, and promotions were auctioned olf by Tammany on the same escalating scale—from three hundred dollars for a patrolman s job to fifteen thousand dollars lor a captaincy. Each captain had a “wardman,” who toured the precinct monthly collecting the take and retaining a hefty slice for himself. One witness reported six hundred policy shops running openly in the very teeth of the investigation. “Green goods men” —swindlers who fobbed olf counterfeit money on upstate rubes—made as much as eight thousand dollars a day, with the co-operation and consequent enrichment of the local precinct. The police take from all sources was estimated at seven million dollars a year.
Lexow’s was the first of a series of investigations of the New York Police Department over the next twenty years. Steadily, often with severe lapses when Tammany regained control, corruption as a police way of life was eliminated, and genuine civil service standards of appointment and promotion were enforced in the department. The Police Academy was begun, and New York’s force began to deserve its nickname, The Finest, given to it by Superintendent George Washington Walling in 1875 but used with derision during the first several decades, when the very possibility of an honest cop was mocked on the popular stage.
Other cities followed New York’s lead, as they had done in police matters in the past. By 1920 Raymond B. Fosdick, one of our first serious students of police problems, could write that the scandals uncovered by the Lexow Committee “would be almost inconceivable today.” Inevitably, the high noon of the native American perfectionist spirit, the Prohibition era, swung the corruption pendulum in the other direction. In 1931 Bruce Smith, another expert on police problems, found Chicago’s force so hopelessly enmeshed in politics and graft that he suggested firing the entire department and starting all over again.
Chicago’s police continued to spiral downward until massive scandals in the early 1960’s prompted the city to bring in Orlando W. Wilson, dean of the University of California’s School of Criminology, to give the force a total overhaul. But Chicago’s was, by and large, a malodorous exception to the general rule: in 1967 the nine-volume report of the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice concluded that “the corruption at all levels … that prevailed in many police departments during the era of prohibition is largely a thing of the past.”
But making the policeman honest only created another problem. Cut off from illicit income, policemen swiftly began complaining about their inadequate salaries. State legislatures and city councils are not very efficient bodies, and they had let police pay fall far behind the steadily rising scale of the rest of American wage earners. The same thing happened in England, and that nonpareil of police forces, the London Metropolitans, actually went out on strike in 1918. In 1919 the Boston police, exasperated by callous disregard of their numerous appeals, walked off the job en masse (see “The Strike That Made A President” in the October, 1963, AMERICAN HERITAGE ). This did not solve the problem of police salaries, however, and the politicians have not solved it yet. In 1967 the special task force set up by the President’s commission to study the police found the average patrolman’s annual salary a little over $5,500 in smaller cities and !7,000 in larger ones —about half what it should be to attract good men.
A few years after O. W. Wilson took charge of the Chicago force, the International Association of Chiefs of Police rated the Chicago department “the best equipped, best administered police force in the United States.” Yet this same force was involved in the most sensational case of alleged police brutality in modern times—the assault on the anti-war demonstrators at the Democratic convention in 1968. Violent police tactics against student protesters at Columbia and other universities have further dramatized this issue. Again, we need to take a backward look at the way police have used force in the past.
The first thing that becomes clear is the fact that they have not been the initiators of violence. The first policemen were not even armed with revolvers—their only weapon was a club. When thugs began using revolvers, some New York police began carrying small “virtue pistols"—so called because women, often prostitutes, carried them for self-protection. In 1858 Superintendent Kennedy made the revolver an official part of his men’s equipment. In many other cities, such as Boston, the policeman’s armament remained limited to the club until the 188o’s.
During these same early years, mobs of thugs like the Bowery Boys and the Dead Rabbits in New York, and the Schuylkill Rangers in Philadelphia, practically controlled certain sections of their cities. These gangs were frequently allied with prominent politicians of the era, and this made them almost immune to prosecution. So the police developed their own forms of punishment. Encouraged by a vigorous mayor, Richard Vaux, the Philadelphia police sent sixty picked men after the Schuylkill Rangers. Day and night they roamed the gang’s territory, and whenever they caught a known member they pounded him into insensibility. The mayor personally supervised the operation. In New York City the police force employed very similar tactics to break the power of the Dead Rabbits and the Bowery Boys. It applied the same tough techniques against the Jewish and Italian gangs of the Lower East Side during the early 1900’s. As late as the 1930’s, under one of New York’s most highly regarded police commissioners, Lewis Valentine (appointed by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia), the orders regularly went out from headquarters: “Muss ‘em upl” The constant motive over the years has been the one dominant with the early Irish, or watchman-style, cop—not the elimination of crime and criminals but social control.
Then there was the mass violence of the labor movement. In labor’s contemporary aura of respectability many Americans have forgotten the lawless spirit of early strikes and strikers, who were sometimes influenced by revolutionary anarchist or communist philosophies. In 1872 New York’s workers struck for an eight-hour day. About a hundred strikers attempted to seize a woodworking plant at Forty-Second Street and Second Avenue and in the course of their occupation threw the foreman downstairs. A squad of police charged in with their clubs, flattening numerous strikers. The next day the Tribune scolded the police for “mismanagement and impulsiveness.” At a mass protest meeting that night one speaker, in a remark that sounds almost familiar if transferred to today’s campus context, declared, “Nothing is better calculated to arouse the great masses of the workingmen of America. …” He proved to be a poor prophet: the strike fizzled. But the tradition of labor violence continued; it was complicated by a wave of anarchists, many of whom were identified with labor’s cause. In 1886 a bomb thrown into police ranks during a workmen’s rally in Chicago’s Haymarket Square killed seven policemen and injured seventy others. The psychological impact on the relationship between police and strikers was enormous and lasted for decades. Henceforth they were enemies, and the public was far more willing to condone the nightstick as a strikebreaking tool.
There was also a class connotation in the police readiness to use violence against thugs of the Dead Rabbit variety, and against strikers. In the Lexow investigations Inspector Alexander “Clubber” Williams proudly acknowledged his nickname when questioned by the committee’s counsel, but vehemently denied that he had ever clubbed “a respectable man.” The remark aroused little or no comment, perhaps because of the continuing violence the policeman had to cope with on the streets. In 1903 William McAdoo remarked that a policeman would be killed within a week if he tried to apply the London bobbies’ minimum-force philosophy in rougher New York.
In 1931 a federal commission took the first national look at American police. Called the Wickersham Report after its chairman, George W. Wickersham, the commission’s study played up, to what many now consider a sensational degree, police use of “physical brutality or other forms of cruelty.” But most of the commission’s indignation was directed against the misuse of the so-called third degree by detectives seeking confessions. The brutality that concerns contemporary Americans is in the area that the President’s commission of 1967 called “police field practices.” The abuse of the third degree was swiftly curtailed by appellate court decisions, and in the 1967 reports of the President’s commission there is hardly a reference to it. Professor James Q. Wilson of Harvard, one of the most sophisticated students of modern police operations, points out that it was relatively easy to bring under control because it was “part of the crime-solving function of the police.” Recent Supreme Court decisions protecting the rights of those accused of crimes have made police use of the third degree self-defeating. But there is no way that courts have yet found to spell out in specific detail how the police are to maintain order in the streets and in society, their original—and perhaps most fundamental—role. This responsibility still depends on the discretion of the policeman on the scene.
This in turn is influenced by a number of subtle factors—the situation in the local courts, the attitude of police superiors and local officials toward violence, and the policeman’s own on-the-spot judgment as to whether it is his authority or the authority of the social order that is being threatened. Never before have American policemen confronted nationwide a superior social class—college students—bent on anarchic mob action. With his traditional emphasis on maintaining order (and, perhaps, his middle-class prejudice against bearded hippies, especially hippies who call him Pig), it is hardly surprising that the average policeman should at first instinctively regard these young agitators as supremely menacing and should retaliate with force —his traditional method of control.
But such misjudgments, as well as the excessive use of force in arrest procedures, are yielding to the same steady attack that earlier generations made on police corruption. The Presidential Commission on Civil Rights appointed by Harry S. Truman decried police brutality in 1947. By 1967 the report of the task force on the police of President Johnson’s commission declared that “physical abuse is not as serious a problem as it was in the past.” Verbal abuse and harassment of citizens are far more serious sources of minority discontent, the task force found. The Kerner Commission’s recent report on violence in America drew a similar conclusion when it listed “police practices” among the twelve primary reasons that black ghetto residents were alienated from and hostile to white society. Verbal abuse—the use by policemen of epithets like “spic” and “nigger"—is now receiving the same kind of corrective attention that corruption and brutality got in the past. Harassment is a more difficult problem. It flows out of a fundamental change that took place in many police departments after the Wickersham Report was issued in 1931.
Spurred by the widespread lawlessness of Prohibition and the exploits of headline-making criminals such as Al Capone and “Pretty Boy” Floyd, the Wickersham Report castigated the police for their “general failure … to detect and arrest criminals guilty of the many murders, spectacular bank, payroll and other holdups and sensational robberies with guns.” Instead of looking to the sociological sources from which this upsurge of criminality came, the commission blamed the police for it. Essentially the Wickersham Report argued that the police can prevent crime, and that if the crime rate gets out of hand it means the police are incompetent.
“The consequences of assigning to the police a law enforcement, crime-prevention function to the exclusion of anything else were profound,” Harvard’s James Q. Wilson believes. “If the job of the police is to catch crooks, then the police have a technical ministerial responsibility in which discretion plays little part.” The result has been a new direction for many police forces in the United States. Although some have retained the old watchman tradition, many, particularly in the larger cities, have veered toward what Professor Wilson calls the legalistic tradition, in which the law is enforced with professional impartiality among all groups, even though such enforcement may cause intense resentment among some sectors of the population.
As an example, Wilson compares arrest statistics in two cities, Oakland, California, and Albany, New York. In Oakland, a city with a stringently legalistic police department, the police are four times as likely to arrest a citizen for larceny and driving while intoxicated and fifty times as likely to arrest one for gambling as they are in Albany, which has a watchman-style police department. Since one third of the population of Oakland is black, while the police department is predominantly white, the result is massive social alienation; it is no accident that the Black Panthers began in Oakland. But perhaps the most startling aspect of this picture is the conclusion Professor Wilson draws. “There is no real evidence,” he said in a recent interview, “to indicate that there is a relationship between local police style and the crime rate.”
For the grim truth is that the police cannot eliminate crime. Its sources are social, and ultimately perhaps metaphysical. More efficient policing can reduce the incidence of certain types of crime, but politicians who orate about making the streets safe for little old ladies at 3 A.M. are talking nonsense. Equally dangerous is a police department so imbued with the legalistic spirit that it threatens to “enforce the law 100 per cent” against student demonstrators and minority groups, contrary to the discretionary decisions of city officials concerned with maintaining public order. Warnings of this kind of enforcement have already been issued by spokesmen for the rank and file of the Boston and New York police departments. These policemen have lost touch with the still-vital, not-to-be-scoffed-at Irishwatchman tradition out of which American police emerged. In a free society total law enforcement is probably not desirable—and it is almost certainly riot possible: the Missouri Crime Commission has pointed out that there are approximately thirty thousand state, federal, and local statutes on the books that a policeman can and theoretically should enforce.
Ultimately, Americans must decide with far more clarity and coherence what they want their police to do. Along with giving the policeman higher pay and more training, we need to re-evaluate the multiple roles he is called upon to play and do a better job of sorting them out. Only a tiny percentage of police work—perhaps only one out of twenty emergencies to which the average patrolman responds—involves gunplay and violence. By far the largest part of the patrolman’s job is closer to social work. (And indeed, a study of the Chicago police published last year by the Industrial Relations Center of the University of Chicago found that the ideal cop was an easygoing, welladjusted man of average intelligence, a “good neighbor” type who would, believe it or not, be equally effective as a clergyman.) This imbalance in the kinds of cases a policeman deals with has prompted the authors of the 1967 presidential commission’s police task force report to suggest that police receive prior training as “community service officers.” Crime solving and riot taming would be handled by “police agents,” men with special talent and training for these jobs.
One thing is obvious from a historical look at the police and their problems: there are no panaceas. The 1967 presidential task force report makes that clear. On the encouraging side, however, the report did point out the progress that Americans have made since the first uniformless policemen emerged from the city watch a hundred and twenty-five years ago. Most police departments have been taken out of the control of party machines, and police brutality has significantly declined. The development of confidential squads, which make constant internal investigations of police departments; the more recent growth of tactical squads, composed of police with special training in riot control; the use of computers to identify high-crime areas —these are further examples of unsensational but steady progress toward the professionalization of our police. Contrary to extremist reports in some magazines and newspapers, most Americans (67 per cent) think the police are doing a good-to-excellent job of enforcing the laws, and 77 per cent think they are at least giving “pretty good” protection to people in their neighborhood. This is a far higher rating than the citizens of New York and other cities would have given their police forces in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
When we look back at the problems with which the police have had to cope in our turbulent history, perhaps it is better to marvel at what they have accomplished, rather than to deplore their failures. Certainly now is not the time to despair, much less to yield to brainless formulas that promise instant results.
More and more men who are leading today’s police are ready and eager to grasp the new insights as well as the new techniques needed to produce truly professional policemen—men who are neither club-swinging shock troops nor disorganized, undisciplined civilians but genuine guardians of the basic values of a democratic society. Few policemen have enunciated the ideal better than Daniel S. C. Liu, who recently retired as chief of police in racially mixed Honolulu: The primary objective of law enforcement is to give substance to those guarantees which promise every person his right to pursue his lawful business and pleasure in an orderly and tranquil society. The lawful exercise of the police power accomplishes this by respecting the dignity of the individual and embracing the concept of human equality under law.