The language used to describe slave patrols also permeated police activities long after patrols were gone. The “beat”, originally used as a geographic means of organizing slave patrol groups in South Carolina and other states, became the basic area that policemen supervised. The policeman’s beat has become a common phrase in American parlance, much the same way that Americans expect a policeman to “patrol” his rounds. The origins of both words predate the creation of slave patrols, but their use in the context of law enforcement today owes much to their application in the slaveholding South.
Beyond language and ideas that slave patrols left after their demise, patrollers used techniques that later police forces would find extremely productive. Patrols employed systematic surveillance methods, like the stakeout Richard Eppes participated in, that policeman would later adopt as part of routine law enforcement. Patrollers also acted with greater discretion and lack of supervision, much as policeman did until the 1960s and the advent of more modern due process concerns. Through at least the first half of the twentieth century, policeman had great latitude to confine, question, brutalize, and release suspects without recourse to more formal judicial settings, just as slave patrollers had done on their nightly rounds for the sake of racial control.
Sally E. Hadden, Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas
You learn something new everyday. I know I just did anyways. The beat, that blew me away. Also, though shit hasn’t changed much in the lived experiences of blacks since the 60s and incarceration has gotten worse, the use of Miranda rights and all that fun stuff happened after that time period. It’s good to know where the cops have gained many of their tactics from.
Reading this really makes me wonder about private narratives of wanting to become a police officer among whites as well. When white kids say it out loud, it’s generally said to help others, for action, etc. But what do white people say to one another when contemplating law enforcement, what reasoning do they use and how do they speak? Especially when these legacies have been passed on verbally, just as our experiences with said law enforcement have often been passed on verbally. Privately. Behind closed doors. *curious*(via strugglingtobeheard)