May 14, 2012
American law enforcement was inherited from Great Britain as were much of America’s governmental institutions. This is because the first Europeans to come to these shores and settled the original colonies only had the British system as an example to base their systems on. Originally the policing of the new colonies and their settlers was given to the Justices of the Peace. This worked rather well until the colonies started to grow beyond the system’s ability to maintain order, the colonies changed into towns and then into cities where a more organized police force was needed.
In 1636 the Night Watch was established in the city of Boston. While Boston remained a rural and agrarian area the idea of the Night Watch worked reasonably well. New York City established the Shout and Rattle Watch in 1651, but, by 1705 Philadelphia found it necessary to divide the city into ten patrol areas. America mandated the development of municipal police departments due to the rapid growth of population and industrialization in the almost 100 years between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. In 1833 Philadelphia had an organized independent, 24 hour a day, police force. In 1844 New York City had two police forces, daytime duty and night watch. Police forces were headed by police chiefs who were appointed and accountable to political bosses.
As America moved toward the west, in most frontier towns the Sheriff was the chief law enforcement official. He could be recruited from the local community, or more often a Sheriff was selected by his reputation, and not always a savory one. The Sheriff system still exists today, but, on a more formal and politicized basis.
In general terms, jurisdiction within the criminal justice system refers to the authority to handle a criminal case. There are several different types of jurisdiction within the justice system these include; geographical, judicial,...