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“Let us state this unequivocally: originating in slave patrols, policing is inherently rooted in white supremacy and cannot be reformed,” read the latest iteration of this canard, in a recent letter from a group of black students to the administration of Duke University. “Now, we must imagine a world beyond police and prisons, one that seeks to heal and rebuild our communities from generations of systemic violence.”
They’re wrong, of course. Modern American law enforcement can claim descent from British policing as it was organized, two centuries ago, by Sir Robert Peel. Peel (whose Christian name is the inspiration for “Bobbies”) was an indefatigable advocate for professional, humane, community-oriented policing.