So considering that, it is obvious that we can only look at the cultures that directly influenced our system of policing to find the most obvious origins to modern American law enforcement. That takes us back to after the rise of Great Britain, sometime during the 12th and 13th centuries. As the English began to gain territory and the population grew, the realization came to the throne of Great Britain that for overall control to be maintained, then some of that control must be delegated down among the territories. They were first divided to represent family groupings and when those groups could not be established easily, they relied on population numbers to determine the parameters. Thus the term “tithing” was coined, which was meant to represent ten people. They also used a term like “ten tithing” which meant one hundred people. Eventually these families or village groupings came to be known as shires, and for a time the shires were asked to try to police themselves by whatever means necessary.
Every shire had a different way to try to control its citizens, but without consistency among the methods, the outcome was less than desirable. Simply put, the shires were not successful in policing themselves. Eventually the royal representative, or Earl, would have to appoint a person in each shire to do the law enforcement work, a person referred to as a shire reeve, or later, sheriff. The sheriff had many duties aside from enforcing the laws of the land, but only two of those duties serve distinct relevance here. The sheriff had the ability to form militias if needed to protect the territory. At the time, that was a new concept to people and was hard for them to accept that level of control, especially when it came to possibly getting drafted into service. The other duty the sheriff had was to collect taxes from the people, and give that money up to the royal leadership. Eventually that duty became the priority of the sheriff because he usually was paid a percentage of the taxes he collected, so that job took precedence above the other responsibilities. In fact, the problem got so bad that changes were eventually required because the sheriff began to neglect his other duties, because he was too busy collecting taxes.