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In the late nineteenth century, bodies, race, and gender expression determined who would make a good police officer. The need for police to be good fighters made Irish officers necessary because of, and not despite, their alleged ability to brawl. The masculinity of police was also hotly debated by an anxious public due to concerns over their ability to police white women in a respectful way. Informed by racial science, early eugenics, and anti-vice and corruption investigations of the era, NYPD commissioner Theodore Roosevelt articulated a scientific vision of a hierarchy of races based on how well they could serve as police officers.

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