Institute of Governor/Police Chief in Governance System of Russian Empire of the Late 18th Century – 60s of the 19th Century (on Materials of Volyn Hubernia)
The purpose of the research paper is to highlight the functioning of the governor (horodnychyi)/police chief (politsmeister) institute from the end of the 18th century till the reform of the local police in 1862.
The scientific novelty. Conclusions are made about an individual approach to the appointment of governors/police chiefs in the settlements where rapid economic development, population size, etc. were the determining factors. The powers of those officials and their specific tasks in Volyn hubernia are analyzed. An analysis of staffing issues is made as well; period of service and career growth opportunities are determined.
Conclusions. During the first half of the 19th century, the supreme power was seeking effective mechanisms for managing cities and towns given their growing role in the economic life of the empire. That resulted in the adoption of a whole series of laws that regulated the functions of the governor/police chief and approaches to their appointment. They had wide-ranging powers in the areas of urban construction, food supply, and the fight against epidemics, but police functions were always predominant. Eventually, a decision was made to reorganize the local police, in which there was no place for the governor, unlike the police chief, whose necessity was justified by the unequal development of cities and towns.
In the internal hubernias, such (police chief) appointments were extraordinary, in contrast to Volyn hubernia, where the management of towns required special supervision by the authorities, taking into account the proprietary nature of the povit centers, the regulation of the Jewish ethnic group residence, the remnants of Magdeburg law, and the large military presence, which required additional control by the authorities.
It was in the context of integration intentions that those officials were assigned a key role – the widest powers in the town, closest to the population, especially where there was neither a magistrate nor town duma. That was reflected in the staffing of the corps of governors/police chiefs. Preference was given to former military personnel, for whom that position could become a kind of career boost: from a collegiate assessor to a court councillor. The period of service in different periods ranged from 3.3 to 4.6 years. To prevent officials from ‘staying too long in one place’ and not to ‘get acquaintances’, the authorities performed frequent staff reshuffles. According to the results of the audit by Senator Emanuel von Sievers, all officials were replaced, which indicated a flexible policy in managing the captured region.
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