An Enduring Legacy

A black and white photo of Herman Goldstein from 1989, provided by the UW Archives. Herman is smiling at the camera while wearing large-framed glasses, a tweed suit jacket, and striped tie.
Herman Goldstein, 1989 – UW Archives

Historical documents from Herman Goldstein’s personal collection are now available in Digital Repository.

Over 850 historic documents from Herman Goldstein’s personal collection, including many items related to his work with the Chicago Police Department in the early 1960s and his creation of the concept of prob­lem-oriented policing, are now available on University of Wisconsin Law School’s Digital Repository.

Before Goldstein passed away in January 2020, the Law Library worked closely with him to preserve his scholar­ly work, including finding a permanent and safe home for his papers, explained Kris Turner, associate director of public services at the Law Library.

“Herman’s family kindly donated over 30 boxes of his papers to UW,” Turner continued. “Of these thousands of items, one of Herman’s friends and colleagues, Sergeant Jim Dexheimer of the Madison Police Department, with input from the Law Library, selected the more than 850 items that form the heart of the digital collection.”

These items are unique and shed light on the development of the internation­ally renowned policing concepts that Goldstein spearheaded, as well as other materials of interest to researchers of UW Law School history and American policing development in general.

Goldstein joined the UW Law School faculty in 1964 after spending four years in Chicago as the executive assistant to the Chicago Police Department superin­tendent O.W. Wilson. He is credited with introducing more just and effective strat­egies for police to carry out their duties.

Spanning more than 50 years, Gold­stein’s work covered the most import­ant aspects of policing in democratic societies: the broad nature of the police function, political accountability of the police, the exercise and control of police discretion, the control of police misconduct, the many dimensions of police administra­tion that affect police effective­ness and fairness and, ultimately, his comprehensive proposal for improving policing through a problem-oriented approach.

It also included two ground­breaking books and many articles on policing reforms.

“Professor Goldstein’s books on policing are renowned classics of his field, and his work continues to inform and advance contemporary thought and best practices on policing.” — Former UW Law Dean Margaret Raymond

For his contributions to the field of modern policing, Goldstein received the 2018 Stockholm Prize in Criminology, an international award that has been called the Nobel Prize of criminology. In awarding the prize, the Stockholm jury not only praised Goldstein’s body of work but also commended its accessibility to broad audiences.

During an interview at the time, former UW Law Dean Mar­garet Raymond said Goldstein is an important part of the Law School’s story because his work embodies its focus on learning, teaching and studying the law, not just as it is written but as it is experienced.

“Professor Goldstein’s books on policing are renowned classics of his field, and his work con­tinues to inform and advance contemporary thought and best practices on policing,” she said.

Goldstein died in 2020 at the age of 88, though his legacy continues to shape young lawyers’ thinking, said Cecelia Klingele, associate professor at UW Law.

“Herman’s legacy endures not only through the work of his former students and mentees but also in courses taught at the School today,” said Klingele. “Students read Herman’s work — which is as relevant now as it was when first published — in criminal procedure when examining the role of police and the importance of guiding and regulating police discretion. Herman’s thoughtful, practical and grounded approach to important questions about state power, public safety and basic fairness resonates.”

It’s hard to overestimate the impact that Goldstein had on criminal law scholarship in gener­al and policing in particular, said Turner.

“Professor Goldstein’s work is an amazing example of UW’s Law-in-Action philosophy,” he said. “People from all walks of life have read or cited Professor Goldstein’s work and papers, ranging from police officers to tenured profes­sors to international associations of criminology to small-town mayors. The breadth of interest in Professor Goldstein’s work is, in my opinion, one of the strongest testaments to the importance of this freely accessible collection.”

Goldstein’s works are avail­able in the UW Law School Digital Repository.

By Kassandra Tuten