The American police have a long history of relying on violence. In Chicago, however, the widespread use of deadly force did not date to the rough-hewn, early days of nineteenth-century policing. Rather, an analysis of more than 300 killings by Chicago policemen from 1875 through 1920 reveals that the frequent resort to deadly force began during the Progressive era. In this period, a formal shoot-to-kill, law-enforcement strategy developed in response both to a local crime wave and, ironically, to reformers' demands for more vigorous and more professional crime fighting.

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