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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Police (10/12/06)

TITLE: Don't Blame the French!!
By Sally Hanan


It may be the French that started it all, but the police force that we are so reliant upon today is all thanks to a writer!

Sir Henry Fielding, (1707-1754), was known for his compassion and skill in portraying accurate characters in his novels; in fact, he was one of the first of his kind to include dialogue in a realistic manner in his stories, thus changing the landscape of English novel writing forever. It was not a far step then for Henry to observe and then write about the things he saw in his society.

Henry was made Justice of the Peace for Middlesex and Westminster, Great Britain, in 1748, and during his time in that position his thoughts and writings became even more well-read. He wrote a paper called, Inquiry into the Increase of Robbers, and in it put forward some propositions on how to relieve the problem of local crime. In 1667, King Louis XIV (1638-1715) had formed an urban force of 3,000 men to protect the citizens of Paris. Paris had quickly become known as the “safest city in Europe”. Some of Fielding’s proposals were based on the success of the Parisian lieutenant general de police.

All of Fielding’s suggestions were immediately put into place. One of them was to form the group called, The Bow Street Runners. These men, who were otherwise known as Robin Redbreasts (because of their prominent red waistcoats) were responsible for a large drop in the crime rate of the locality. They carried out their duties of detective work and the serving of papers with the utmost conscientiousness, and were feared greatly by the criminals of the area. Robberies, rape, pick pocketing – all were reduced with the awareness that the criminal “might be caught”.

Sir Robert Peel, an admirer of Sir Henry Fielding’s actions, decided to improve upon Sir Henrys’ group of law-watchdogs and formed, in 1830, what became the London Metropolitan Force. Peel’s team came to be known by the locals as “bobbies” or “peelers” after their founder. These men were uniformed men who patrolled the metropolitan areas of London as civilian watchdogs, and were a welcome relief to a civilian’s fear.

Within ten years though, only half of the country had formed a police force of their own, mainly due to the lack of finances. Seeing the difference it made when there was law and order, it became law in 1856 for each city and district to have a force of its own, and funding was provided to institute these.

Naturally, Americans in the early 1800s were averse to having such a state of control placed on them, and they opposed the idea vigorously, but they had their own form of control – a vicious group of armed men who patrolled areas on the lookout for slaves, and later, thugs who would control rioters and strikers. In other towns citizens would watch over the affairs of the locals, but nothing was very organized.

Once the population of cities began to grow, it became necessary to form police forces for the common good, as, due to industrialization, communities of people could no longer rely upon each other to stay on top of criminal activity, not could they punish it with any effectiveness.

Today, the police of the world perform a multitude of activities for the public’s benefit – from murder investigations to crowd control to giving presentations at local schools. Sir Henry Fielding had no idea that his observations and suggestions for change would amount to the policing of every locality in the world, and that his ideas would prevent many crimes and deaths.

Isn’t it the same with each one of us? We have no idea that what we choose to do with our observations may affect billions of lives for the good. Sir Henry was faithful with the gifts he had, and God blessed his faithfulness.

What is God opening your eyes to, and what are you going to do about it?

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Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 10/21/06
I thoroughly enjoyed this trip through history. Great writing and a terrific application.
Dolores Stohler10/22/06
Very informative and a surprise to me -- guess I thought the police were always around. They are so often misjudged. A few incidents of brutality and people assume the worst about them. In my few encounters with police, I found them to be gentle and compassionate.
Like the time they rescued me in a near-fatal accident. Many of us owe our lives to them; there should be an Officer Appreciation Day!
Joanne Sher 10/22/06
A very, VERY interesting history lesson provided in a very engaging piece - and a great lesson to boot!A great approach to the topic, and a fascinating read!
Donna Powers 10/24/06
An excellent and well-written history lesson. I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing this.