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As societies became more urban and cities grew, maintaining security became a major priority for governments. Although threats in the ancient world and late antiquity were seen as external, it was also internal unrest that threatened cities and kingdoms. The development of policing was an important change that allowed cities to become safe enough to grow and prosper, but that history and its origin are complex.
In Mesopotamia and Egypt, by the 3rd millennium BCE, local officials appeared to have been tasked with rounding up criminals and bringing them to justice. The appearance of the first law codes during this time suggest crime was prevalent in cities and as urban places grew we begin to see an enforcement body, entrusted to local government officials, in charge with bringing in criminals and others who might have committed given crimes.<ref>For more on Mesopotamian and Egyptian policing efforts, see: Stevens, D. J. (2009). An introduction to American policing. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, pg. 41.</ref>
To a large extent, policing remained ad hoc for much of the Medieval period. In the 17th century, with religious wars rampant in Europe, new forces were created that became responsible for policing in England and France. The term "police" is used during the period of the English Civil War, which was a force that protected citizens and maintained order during a period of instability, where its role also included enforcing the decrees of Parliament. In Paris, the first dedicated police department was created in 1667. The responsibility of the department was to protect citizens and remove any threat of disturbances. Similar to what happened in Rome, it was population increase and rise of crime that led to the development and impetus to create a more organized force to police the city. The police were led by a police lieutenant who was assisted by commissioners that maintained control of different districts within Paris. This system by the late 17th century was extended to the entire country, creating effectively the first national police force.<ref>For more on how Paris developed its policing, see: Roth, M. P. (2011). Crime and punishment: a history of the criminal justice system (2nd ed). Australia ; Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, pg. 210.</ref>
In Britain, unofficial positions such as watchmen in towns, that had developed in the Medieval period, began to become more formalized in the 18th century, where watchmen began to be paid, making them formal government enforcers (Figure 1). The position of constable became more professional and became an official government position. The night watchmen became regulated through an act of Parliament by 1737. The act specified how many constables should be on duty during any given night for the city of London. The Bow Street Runners effectively became London's first paid police force in 1749. This was a group of men who would use funds given by the government to help solve crimes and keep peace. This force had an office where citizens would come to report offenses. In effect, the police force acted more like detectives, while constables continued to serve as something comparable to police patrols. This change made policing become distinguished as different branches that involved investigation of unsolved crimes and more common protection.<ref>For more on policing changes in the 18th century in Britain, see: Beattie, J. M. (2012). The first English detectives: the Bow Street Runners and the policing of London, 1750-1840. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.</ref>
By the early 1800s, London became the largest city and had continued to grow. Its existing policing was severely constrained for the growing population. The Metropolitan Police act of 1829 established London's police force, which became known as Scotland Yard (Figure 2). The police in London were distinctly organized to look different from the military, where they were not issued weapons and had very different uniforms. The 1835 Municipal Corporations Act then began to broaden policing throughout Britain by expanding policing to 178 boroughs, creating now a national effort for policing. This and the French model then became the models in which other states began to develop their major urban and national policing forces.<ref>For more on the development of the Metropolitan Police, see: Shpayer-Makov, H. (2011). The ascent of the detective: police sleuths in Victorian and Edwardian England. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.</ref>