Never Ready for Reform Part 6/X

Another report criticizing Chicago’s police department was published only a few years later. The Illinois Crime Report, which looked at the criminal justice system around the state, devoted an entire chapter (Chapter VIII) to policing in Chicago. Written by August Vollmer, a leading criminologist and police reformer of the period, the chapter assessed the department from top to bottom and made comprehensive recommendations.

The methods for selecting, training, and assigning officers should be changed, he claimed. So should the very organizational structure of the the department. Communication among officers and record keeping within the department had to be improved. Chicago police should cooperate with other departments in the state., under the control of a state bureau of police.

And, like so many reformers before him, Vollmer recommended that politicians and criminals had to be kept from influencing police decisions.


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Writer. Formerly civil rights attorney. Currently professor. Working on new book about mental disability and criminal law in the 20th century.

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