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date: 04 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the meaning of “public-oriented policing” has changed, with great variations between countries. This essay critically analyzes the dichotomy that has often been established between police–public relations in Anglo-American contexts as the model of public-oriented “democratic policing” and police–public relations in continental Europe. Using examples from Britain, the United States, France, and Germany, this essay argues that interpretations by historians and police scholars of the nature of police–public relations have been fundamentally influenced by the political regime they served, and that the positive appreciation among scholars for the principles behind the Anglo-American ideal of police–public relations has often been accepted uncritically. Examples from France and Germany open wider questions about the impact of democratization on police–public relations, the effects of locally organized police on even-handed and responsive policing, and the influence of militarized policing on violence in police–public relations.

Keywords: police–public relations, democratic policing, police legitimacy, comparative analysis, historical interpretations

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