“The African-American community — youth in the African-American community in particular — has something against law enforcement in many ways. They don’t like law enforcement, and they don’t think law enforcement likes them.”
As early as 1671, South Carolina established a watch consisting of regular constables and rotating citizens to guard Charles Town against potential problems including slave gatherings.
In the 1700s, South Carolina established slave patrols, i.e., slave police, to control and police slaves. By 1785, South Carolina incorporated the slave patrols into the Charleston Guard and Watch, the first modern police department because this force was authorized by Charleston to use force, had enforcement responsibilities, was the primary law enforcement agency for Charleston, and had a chain of command consisting of a captain and subordinates.
Throughout the pre-Civil War period, the slave patrols and police’s primary task was to control slaves. States passed laws allowing local officials to create slave patrols to control the slave population and suppress slave insurrections. As one slave patroller recounted, they were directed to search “the negro cabins, & take every thing which we found in them, which bore a hostile aspect,” especially firearm material.