This article employs pro-feminist approaches to explore the historic failure of the Eugene Police Department (EPD) to confront interpersonal violence against women. I tap a variety of sources including oral histories, crime statistics, newspaper reports, city council meeting minutes, divorce case data and police department annual reports to construct a history of policing in post World War Two Eugene, Oregon. I argue that the rationalization and professionalization of the EPD were profoundly gendered processes, not in any conspiratorial sense, but in the sense that they framed sources of social danger and social harm as public rather than private. Public foci such as traffic safety and the danger presented by tramps, tended to obscure the threat posed to women by the men they knew. In the light of the historically enduring passivity of police to interpersonal violence against women, I call into question the appropriateness of the teleological notions of “rationalization” and “progress” which underpin much police history.
- Domestic violence
- Police history
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science