Police history and the question of gender: The case of eugene, oregon in the post world war two era

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-338
Number of pages26
JournalPolicing and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1995



  • Domestic violence
  • Gender
  • Police history
  • Professionalization
  • Rape
  • Rationalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Sociology and Political Science

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