Questions about police behavior has been one of the major themes of the COVID era, notably all the videos showing cops killing unarmed Black people, plus daily reports about abusive officers. In the earlier part of the 20th century the policing involved wielding a wooden or metal club as an instrument of enforcement, and not always in the name of the law. By the 1940s, police departments started to come under some civilian scrutiny and reports were written advocating more humane procedures. In 1960, The National Association for Mental Health produced its first edition of How To Recognize And Handle Abnormal People, a manual for police on how to identify and behave with an “abnormal person” from the mentally ill to civil protesters.
As I read some of the descriptions, I realized that they could have been describing me.
One of my favorites is the chapter on “The Sex Offender“, which begins with:
“Many normal people experiment with unusual types of sexual stimulation, particularly couples who have been married a long time. And they usually do so in the privacy of their home. But if they should be caught in the act, their behavior would be a misdemeanor in some states. From a medical point of view, those people who may be normal in all respects except sexual behavior are said to have distortion (or perversion)…“
It makes for fascinating reading. You cannot borrow my copy, but I found you a first edition on Amazon for just $899.99.