Saw the OETA production, "Dead or Alive" at this link: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7778352833297958508 .
Toward the end of the program Dee Cordry mentions that the reason that there are so few problems with law enforcement in Oklahoma as compared with other states, is due to the decisions made by the 19th & eartly 20th Century lawmen such as the "Guardsmen."
It seems to me that he hit on something very fundamental in the why of the way enforcement agencies handle their business.
I wonder if he would care to elaborate further on this subject?
During the time period of Judge Parker's service as the federal judge in Fort Smith, the behavior of the deputy US marshals changed. Parker instructed them to bring in the outlaws to face justice and to prevent their escape. It meant "dead or alive." It was a serious, deadly business and over 100 of these lawmen were killed in the line of duty during Parker's 20+ years as judge over the Indian Territory. Certain lawmen such as Heck Thomas became well known as "man hunters" who were experts in bringing in the desperate outlaws. Heck Thomas and others moved on from Indian Territory to Oklahoma Territory and brought with them a behavior or standard of conduct that included not backing down in the face of danger.
Another characteristic that came about was an amount of "fairness" offered the outlaws, a chance to surrender. These lawmen were prepared to use deadly force if necessary, but, only if necessary.
Today we take it for granted that a peace officer will exercise these characteristics, but those standards of behavior didn't just happen by accident. The tough, violent conditions of the Oklahoma and Indian Territories demanded harsh action by public officials such as Parker (known as the Hanging Judge) and by the lawmen who carried out their orders. They exercised the kind of judgement that we have come to expect from our policemen today.
It could have turned out very different. The incident known as "The Seminole Burnings" and also the Tulsa Race Riot in the 1920's show that the urge to take the law into your own hands existed.
Considering everything, we are fortunate to have the level of professionalism found in Oklahoma's lawmen. It is my observation that we owe it to the judgement shown by those territorial lawmen.
It seems to me that this quality, of both the lawmen and the politicians who controled them, led directly to the low level of corruption found in Oklahoma LE agencies. The less one can confront and deal with lawbreakers directly, the more one has to find a way to accomodate them--to compromise with them.
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