Herman Goldstein: Friend and Mentor

with herman goldstein
Herman and I at a meeting in Washington, DC, Spring, 1993.

“Herman Goldstein is, quite simply, a legend in his – or any – time. Law enforcement officers, whether they know it or not, engage in police work every day that has been profoundly influenced by the critical thinking of this one unassuming man. It is no overstatement to say that much of the ‘revolution’ that has taken place in policing over the past 20 years is attributable to Goldstein.” (Law Enforcement News, Rosen, 1997)

A  colleague of mine, Michael Scott, who currently is serving as a criminal justice professor in criminal justice at Arizona State University, is a former Madison police officer, police administrator and founder of the Problem Oriented Policing Center. He has written a glowing and appropriate tome to our dear friend, Herman Goldstein in the recent international edition of “Police Practice and Research.”

My years in Madison was not only enhanced by Herman’s friendship and willingness to mentor an embattled police chief in my early years, but he and Frank Remington played a major role in my coming to Madison in 1972.

I had often thought about whether someone would do the necessary and important work to try and capture Herman’s stellar and most-influencing life in American policing which now has stretched on for over 60 years! Mike has more than met my expectations.

I will begin with Michael’s introduction and urge you to read the entire article from the attached link.


Pioneers in Policing: Herman Goldstein

Michael S. Scott 

“The strength of a democracy and the quality of life enjoyed by its citizens are determined in large measure by the ability of the police to discharge their duties.” (Goldstein, 1977)

Prof. Michael A. Scott

“From among all he has published, the above simple sentence captures the importance and focus of Herman Goldstein’s career. Written as it was thirty-five years ago, it would be as true and important had it been written one-hundred and thirty-five years ago or were it to be written one-hundred and thirty-five years in the future.

“As one reflects upon democracy’s growing pains in today’s developing world, one is eager to determine the essential elements of a successful democracy. To be sure, well-written constitutions, an abiding respect for the rule of law and for basic human rights, competent bureaucracies, vibrant economies, and balances of internal political power would all be counted among the essential elements. Goldstein reminds us that the quality of domestic policing is also of utmost importance. And yet, this essential element of democracy has largely been overlooked and neglected for much of American history, and at considerable cost to American democracy.

“American police were stunted as an institution, born as a working-class occupation, not as a profession. It took a great reform movement to make them something other than foot soldiers of local political machines, although even as that reform movement was underway in the 1960s and ‘70s, it left American police more oppressive, reactionary, ineffective, and unaccountable than was good for a democracy, in part because some police agencies remained largely unaffected by any reforms, and in part because the magnitude and complexity of the needed reforms were so great. Even where vital police reforms were enacted, such as bringing labor-management relations into balance, restraining use of force, insulating police from political interference, improving personnel and training, raising wages and benefts, and establishing written policies and procedures, much remained wanting of the American police institution.

“In the 1960s and ‘70s, American police seemed at war with the public. For its part, the public, especially minority groups, felt alienated from and oppressed by police. For their part, police felt great frustration in carrying out their duties, as they understood them, without the public support and understanding to which they felt entitled. As these tensions between police and public reached a crescendo, Goldstein offered explanations and prescriptions that remain valid today…”

To link to this article CLICK HERE.

1 Comment

  1. The police have been at war with the striking American workers, progressive, socialists, liberals, and communists since the 19th century. they also have been at work with minorities particularlyAfr0-American since the beginning and ending of slavery.


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