By Andrew T. Darien (auth.)

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Additional info for Becoming New York’s Finest: Race, Gender, and the Integration of the NYPD, 1935–1980

Sample text

Disorder in the streets would be policed by those men New Yorkers imagined to be sturdy, resolute, devoted, virile, and heroic. The skills of African Americans and women that purportedly made them well suited to police work in the 1960s—sensitivity, communication, and ghetto specialization—rendered them secondary and expendable in the 1970s. Part I Desegregation and Domesticity, 1935 –1963 1 Meritocracy and the Illusion o f C olor Blindness I remember as a kid in grammar school I would never pledge allegiance because I thought it was a lie.

The NYPD had fashioned itself as a quasi-military institution, going back to the professionalization of the department in the mid-nineteenth century. In addition to following the military chain of command model, police officers viewed law enforcement as the domestic wing of the nation’s military. The rewards for police service, like those in the military, were financial, commemorative, and psychological. Government officials celebrated the men of the armed forces and urban police departments by furnishing them with medals, awards, honors, pensions, and ceremonies.

Police managers themselves drew many parallels between police work and that of the military, but, at the same time, disowned less favorable analogies. Even before World War II, for instance, New York’s Police commissioner John F. ”48 Yet he qualified his comments by noting that police departments’ officers were more mature, better qualified, and more rigorously screened than their military counterparts. Echoing those sentiments, Sergeant Francis of New York’s 94th Precinct observed: It’s practically the same, but somehow entirely different—that’s what almost every member of the New York City Police Department will say when asked how he’s making the adjustment to life in the Armed Forces of the United States.

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