The Hidden Hand of the Baltimore Police Department: The Fraternal Order of Police

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Foley, Joseph, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Harold, Claudrena

This thesis argues that the Fraternal Order of Police in Baltimore plays a key role in limiting police accountability, advancing the economic and political interests of the law enforcement profession, and shaping the discourse and politics of crime in urban America. The Order’s massive growth and expanding agenda from 1966 to 1988 proved to be crucial years in the growth of the U.S. carceral state.

As I argue, Baltimore functioned as a microcosm and even a catalyst for much larger national issues including police expansion and systematic oppression. With its close proximity to Washington D.C. and support from leaders like Spiro Agnew and former Police Commissioner Donald Pomerleau, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) was one of the nation’s first departments to utilize federal funding and training. Pinpointing this multi-faceted model of carceral expansion in Baltimore reveals how similar processes have been replicated in urban spaces including Washington D.C., Detroit, Chicago, Orlando and New Orleans. By the 1970s, Baltimore had a black majority — making it an ideal space for groups like the FOP to perpetuate the urban tropes of black criminality and white flight in conjunction with political efforts.

MA (Master of Arts)
FOP, Carceral, Policing, Baltimore, Fraternal Order of Police, Police Militarization
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