Policing Black Milwaukee: Newspaper Accounts of a Community Policing Pioneer of the 1930s and 1940s

Melissa Hickman Barlow, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
David E. Barlow, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

The history of police in the United States is integrally interconnected with the history of African American struggles for freedom and equality. Beginning with the earliest slave patrols, police have been charged with maintaining a social order built upon unequal relations of power based in large part on race, gender and class. As in most large U.S. cities, the history of relations between police and African Americans in Milwaukee is a history in which the contradictions inherent in the role of police result in complaints of both underpolicing and overpolicing. The paper presented here explores these themes within an analysis of newspaper articles on complaints against police in Milwaukee newspapers in the 1930s and 1940s, a period in which the Milwaukee Police Department was led by an early pioneer of community policing.

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Updated 05/20/2006