The Police as a Social Service in Early Twentieth-Century Toronto
AbstractThis article examines a neglected aspect of police history, the provision of social welfare services. The Toronto Police Morality Department, prior to the formation of a family court in 1929, played an important dispute resolution role for working-class families which included the adjustment of domestic quarrels and the collection of support payments. Police stations were used to provide shelter to thousands of transients, a service that had little direct link to crime control. The hiring of policewomen in 1913, although a token effort, was a manifestation of the contemporary social service and moral purity movements. Social service, if relatively undeveloped compared to the police institution's more coercive operations, helped to maintain police legitimacy.