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Law officers in the 19th century.

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Introduction

Brendan Lee Law officers in the 19th century During this time law officers were a lot different than what we see today. By looking at short stories from this time we can see what they were like. In England during this time the officers seem to be helpful people who do protect others. In the story 'Speckled Band,' we see Sherlock Holmes listening to a report from someone he has never met before and he is interested in solving this mysterious problem. It is set in Surrey so in this area law enforcement's may be different than in other parts of England. 'As to reward, my profession is its own reward,' this shows that this particular officer, in this case a private detective, does not demand money from his client, yet he is still interested in this particular case, despite him not gaining anything financially from it. However he is just a detective, and not the actual police. The lady in the story says she didn't know who to turn to, so the police are not considered helpful. In a way Sherlock Holmes is showing police officers in that time up. This gives us a bad impression of law officers in the 19th century, although there are individuals prepared to take on the task of enforcing law. ...read more.

Middle

This too shows the lack of police officers and that the law is not enforced in the 19th century in New York. In the story ' An Arrest,' we see a different side to law. It is based in Kentucky, and shows a prisoner escaping from jail. He escapes by hitting the jailer round the head with an iron bar, whilst in his cell. The jailer is unarmed while guarding the cell. This shows stupidity by law officers, and that law enforcement is not organised and that there is a lack of law officers around to guard this murderer. Once escaped, we are told that 'a posse of citizens with a pack of bloodhounds would soon be on his track.' So there are no real police officers, instead the people of the town get together a group and go after the escaped prisoner. Bloodhounds are used to hunt down the prisoner, and we can assume from this that they are likely to attack the man and even kill him, other wise these fierce animals would not be used. The lack of police officers is probably due to a lack of money. The prisoner was waiting for his trial, and the place he is being held does not seem to have any sort of security. ...read more.

Conclusion

So from these studies, we can see that law enforcement in the 19th century in America is very poor. A slight effort is made by individuals who want justice, and occasionally there is some sort of official officer, but there seems to be no real unique law officers who provide a safe and reliable service. Also we see that once a criminal has been caught, the punishment is death, this seems harsh, but obviously it is their answer to criminals. Which shows us that there is little money to spend on prisons to hold criminals, and that it is easier to get rid of them all together, which also cuts down on crime. In England we see the same sort of problem. There are mentions of police officers, however we never see one or have any contact with one in the story. We see in Van Bibbers Burglar about a man who has just escaped prison, and describes it as a dull and dirty place. But at least this shows us that England's answer to criminals is prison. It may not be a nice place, but criminals are there to be punished for their crime, not to have luxury accommodations and have an easy prison life. America and England both deal with criminals in a different way, which way is the best way is not clear, but both countries believe there should be justice, and individuals set out to achieve that goal. ...read more.

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