Matthew Guariglia is Affiliated Scholar at the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco, Senior Policy Analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and coeditor of
Racial Hierarchies of Crime & Policing: Bodies, Morals, and Gender in the NYPD, 1890–1897
2023. "Racial Hierarchies of Crime & Policing: Bodies, Morals, and Gender in the NYPD, 1890–1897", Police and the Empire City: Race and the Origins of Modern Policing in New York, Matthew Guariglia
Download citation file:
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.