Keeping order in the city is the oldest of police duties. In the 1820s, the Policía de Buenos Aires adopted the image of a watchful eye as their emblem, placing the symbol on their medallions, badges, and letterhead. This institution “never slept.” Watching the city by day, watching it by night, the police attempted to give the appearance of being the ubiquitous eyes of authority. This chapter focuses on the crisis and subsequent resurrection of this ideal during the first decades of the twentieth century. It traces this history into the 1930s, when the police began using the new technologies—radios and patrol cars—that fundamentally altered methods of perceiving and collecting information on urban life.
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