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I was recently reading about conflicts between Clodius and Pompey. Clodius first but subsequently Pompey as well, used - what I would characterize as - armed gangs. The power of these gangs was such that Clodius was able to intimidate the Senate.

This and other instances of mobs careening through Rome led me to wonder why the Senate never established a police force? It seems hard for the modern mind to imagine a city half the size of Rome, today, without a police force.

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    Because Robert Peel hadn't been born yet: "Peel entered the Cabinet for the first time as Home Secretary (1822–1827), where he reformed and liberalised the criminal law and created the modern police force, leading to a new type of officer known in tribute to him as 'bobbies' and 'peelers'" - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Peel and historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/Sir-Robert-Peel – Pieter Geerkens May 20 '16 at 21:56
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    This is kind of a counterfactual; they didn't set up a police department because (a) police departments hadn't been invented yet, and (b) they didn't think they needed one; their system of tribe and clientilism worked fine. They were fantastically proud of the fact that they had laws and the laws were (theoretically) available to the people. It is hard to imagine for the modern mind because they aren't modern; they were modern for their time. As a historian I once knew said, "The past is an alien land." – Mark C. Wallace May 20 '16 at 22:00
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    Police is a very recent invention. There was no police in England as late as the beginning of 19 century. – Alex May 21 '16 at 4:00
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    @PieterGeerkens Yes, and IIRC, British police ranks - constable, inspector, superintendent etc - were chosen deliberately to avoid any quasi- military connotations. – TheHonRose May 21 '16 at 10:51
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    @PieterGeerkens - The Romans had the Vigiles and the Cohortes Urbanus, whose duties correspond more or less with modern policemen, with added fire-fighting responsibilities. They were set up by Augustus, so they're out of the scope of the question, tho. – RI Swamp Yankee May 24 '16 at 19:37
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The fact is that even if police were to even have been an idea at the time, they weren't needed because in both the Republican (506 BC-27 BC) and Imperial (27 BC-AD 1453) eras, the primary forms of law enforcement were through the city guard, rumourmongers, informers, and the courts of the city and Empire.

If you want an example, look at Jesus' trial, where a combination of rumourmongers (Pharisees) and an informer (Judas Iscariot) brought Christ to Pilate, who acted as judge while using the Jerusalemites as a jury (the court.). The guards escorted Jesus and humiliated Him. Another example would be Saint Paul, where rumourmongers sent him to prison (run by the city guard), where he requested a trial in Rome (to spread the faith in Italy) for a court as a Roman.

Though these are all Biblical (though factual), they provide a picture of Roman law enforcement during the early years of Empire. By its end, in 1453, you were suspect if you were a Latin, Sunni, or spoke with a Turkish accent. Also, if you were a traitor, either you were executed publicly, or you were blinded, castrated, or both, and released to either die of infection, or live as a bitter embarrassment and example to all of what crossing the Romans (however limited they were by 1453) could bring.

Tsar (King) Samuel or Simeon (not sure which one) learned this when Basileios II successfully conquered the First Bulgarian Tsardom (Slavic successor the Khanate of Bulgharia by adopting its endonym while not Turcifying) and his entire army by the hundreds save one out of a group of 100 where blinded entirely, while the remaining soldier was left with on eye to return his hundred to Bulgaria.

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    Started well but veered wildly off-topic... – DevSolar Aug 2 '16 at 9:55

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