September 22, 2012

Brief History of Security

unsecureEven though security today encompasses various high-tech equipment and specialized training, it started from very humble beginnings. According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model, a person’s basic needs break down into eight specific categories. After fulfilling the primary biological needs at the basis of the model, man craves safety as the second category. This craving encompasses protection, stability, and security. In medieval times, journeys outside the protected village walls were fraught with danger, so wealthier citizens employed armed men for protection. During this timeframe, people relied on their basic societal structure for security and lacked an organized police force. Back in 1285, England passed the Statute of Westminster. This formulized the watch and ward system, which required every able man to pursue criminals when somebody raises a "hue and cry."

By 1700, the social structure of rural Middle Ages England was breaking down through increased urbanization. Urbanization brought a set of different problems, since large cities lacked public law enforcement agencies to respond to the increased violence. The growing populace required a dedicated security force to efficiently enforce the societal laws. Sir Robert Peel’s London Metropolitan Police Act established a professional public police force, and major metro areas within the Western world followed suit. Unfortunately, during the 19th and early 20th Centuries localized security created jurisdiction issues. Additionally, local police were often ill equipped and lacked training. Private security stepped up to fill the void. Many people skeptic of law enforcement capabilities turned to Pinkerton’s Protective Police Patrol or similar agencies. During this era, many investigative and protection businesses started by men with little to no security experience or training, began popping up across the United States.

Within the early part of the 20th Century, the United States went through a national heightened emphasis on government security, which pushed the spotlight onto the public sector security. During this timeframe, the U.S. formed a national law enforcement entity, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which had broader jurisdiction lines to chase running fugitives. Gradually, investigative and police techniques and training developed, increasing police departments’ effectiveness. Private security shifted its focus more towards asset protection.


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Johnson, B. (2004). Principles of security management. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson-Prentice Hall.

Keena, L.D. (2009) CJ100 Introduction to criminal justice: History of law enforcement. Southeast Missouri State University. Retrieved from

McLeod, S. A. (2007). Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved from