The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle


Only Time Will Tell

A century from now historians and the curiosity seekers will look back and ponder at the things that have occurred in the last year between 2019 and 2020. This recent pandemic, regardless of one’s opinion, has reshaped our generation and we have yet to see the outcome or aftermath. The one thing that comes to mind concerning some of this is when some have suggested defunding the police. In a perfect world that would be an ideal situation. In the real world the last thing we need is not having any type of police. Anarchy and chaos would ensue.

If there were no police to enforce the laws, then there would be no need for the courts because there would be no arrests. No traffic laws to be enforced would mean one would not need a license and the department of motor vehicles would cease to exist. Go one step further and empty all the prisons. All the correction officers would be out of work. Our own sheriff and everyone associated with the courthouse would be out of work. This would create an economic crisis unprecedented in human history. I studied Police Science for a year at a California college and I came away with a deeper understanding of the social impact. As I said before in an ideal world there would not even be a police force, but until then, we need to support those who are there to protect and serve.

Some may have thought that the police officer is a figure that existed since the beginning of development of our country. The United States police force is a relatively modern development that was initiated by changing concepts of public order and forced in turn by economics and politics.

The history of police in the United States can be traced back to early Colonial America when there was an informal police system based on for-profit. This was privately funded, and they hired people on a part-time basis. Some towns which used volunteers who signed up for a certain day and time were commonly called on a “night watch.” Boston first started the night watch in the early 17th century. In the religious atmosphere of the time, these night-watchmen were looking out for fellow colonists engaging in prostitution or gambling. The problem with that system was basic inefficiency. This was partly because most people were put on watch duty as a form of punishment. Many watchmen often slept and drank while on duty.

Night watchmen were supervised by constables. This wasn’t a highly sought-after job. When local communities tried mandatory service it came down to who had enough money to hire someone to protect their property, and it was usually a criminal or a community thug. These early policemen didn’t want to wear badges because of the bad reputation they had to begin with. With this in mind, they didn’t want to be identified as people that other people didn’t like. The term “cop” referred to a bad police officer who at that time could be bribed with a copper penny which would have been enough to buy a loaf of bread.

As immigrants from Germany and Ireland settled in urban places like Boston between 1820 and 1860, they clashed with the original settlers who came from England and the Netherlands. As the original settlers and immigrants had this clash of cultures, the night watch was rendered useless because the cities were ill-equipped to keep order.

Whether or not one loves or hates the police, they are here. Some are good and a very few are bad. The people have the right to self-protection afforded by the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. Not everyone has guns, and there are some who should never have guns; therefore, the need for police and the sheriff’s department is real. Until there is not a need for any kind of police force, it is our civic duty to not only watch over each other, but to also support local law enforcement. Only time will tell.


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