Police are expected not only to maintain order and contain crime, but to establish the limits of permissible conduct in a society. In many societies the mandate of the police extends beyond the criminal to encompass the drunk, the prostitute, the delinquent, the ex-offender and the drug addict. The Soviet militia shared such an expansive mandate with its counterparts in other countries, yet several distinctive features characterized Soviet efforts to control and define deviance. Many activities that in other societies are entrusted to social workers or separate branches of the judicial system, for example, were performed by the militia and community organizations in the Soviet Union, making militiamen “social workers with sticks.” The Soviet militia used a more systemized approach to track deviants and delinquents in their communities than do western policemen, maintaining detailed files on individuals with known police records. Their designated counseling role allowed policemen to enter homes and schools in order to obtain information on deviants who had not yet violated criminal law without having to obtain prosecutorial permission. The supremacy of the state over the citizen-and concomitant lack of legal restraints-on the militia made many citizens in the USSR both willing and unwilling collaborators in police operations to identify and root out deviants. Militiamen’s disdain for the deviants, moreover, who were most frequently handled by general and not specially trained police units, often led to outright abuse of suspects.