The Third Wave of Policing: A New Era

Julius Givens
13 min readJul 27, 2020
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is sprawled across the booking desk at a police station as his stunned wife, Coretta, looks on. Photo by Charles Moore, 1958

244 years ago we created a document asserting our own right to choose our own government. 231 years ago that government was established, on paper, under the pretense that justice was superior to all else. Unfortunately, “we” is a misnomer and the government that was established fell short, on justice.

At the conclusion of this introduction is a three-part series of writings suggesting what the Third Wave of Policing should look like to ensure the three most important aspects of modern day policing: police effectiveness, police accountability, and public trust.

A couple years ago I had the good fortune to be invited to lunch with Steve Case, founder of AOL and author of The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future. During lunch Steve spoke at length about him and his peers building the foundation of the internet — getting folks online as the first wave of technology. The second wave, Steve explained, saw companies like Google and Amazon build on top of the Internet to create search, social, and shopping capabilities, while apps like Snapchat and Instagram leveraged the smartphone revolution. Finally, Steve explains the third wave noting that it would be entirely up to us to decide but that we should expect it to be the “internet of everything.”

Understanding this framework will be useful as I suggest how the The Third Wave of Policing should look. In my estimate, the first Wave of Policing took place from 1704 to 1900 with the overall intent to maintain control of the general public. This period introduced volunteer town patrols and privately paid patrols in the north. The south introduced slave catchers that patrolled towns and wooded areas alike searching for runaway slaves and intimidating those already held in servitude. After 1865 however, those slave patrols turned into intimidation squads meant to scare newly freed African American citizens.

The Second Wave of Policing took place from 1900 until 2014 and policing pivoted to become a tool for policy makers. During the anti-labor movement at the turn-of-the-century, municipality paid police departments were often called to break up labor strikes and labor strategy meetings. Further, paid departments, especially in southern states, were used to spy, disrupt, and arrest Civil Rights protesters. This period also saw an…

Julius Givens

A Chicago Police Officer committed to the three most important aspects of policing: Public Trust, Police Accountability, and Police Effectiveness.