Date of Completion
Police, New York City, History, Race, Empire, Immigration
William Jelani Cobb
Field of Study
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation traces the evolution of policing in New York City as the city became more racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. During this time, members of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) believed that racial, cultural, and linguistic difference made it nearly impossible for the majority Anglo-Irish police force to effectively patrol growing immigrant and native-born Black communities. In their effort to find a solution to this problem, NYPD administrators drew upon tactics and methods central to the project of colonial governance in the Philippines, Cuba, as well as technologies already central to policing and imperialism in Europe. Building on the colonial tactic known as “native policing,” the NYPD created a short-lived system of “ethnic squads” that deployed immigrant men into their own communities. This system was quickly replaced by the rise of professionalized, standardized, and bureaucratized technocratic policing. Aided by increased communication with Europe and the scientific principles of Fordism, Taylorism, and Eugenics, this new model of policing sought to create officers who could police all neighborhoods, where once NYPD administrators had to find officers capable of patrolling their own communities.
Guariglia, Matthew, "The American Problem: Race, Empire, and Policing in New York City, 1840-1930" (2019). Doctoral Dissertations. 2111.
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