Interrogations

Interrogations: Heath Cabot and William Garriot on Policing and Contemporary Governance

Palgrave MacMillan (2013)

Policing and Contemporary Governance: the anthropology of police in practice. William Garriott, editor (Palgrave MacMillan 2013).

The editors of Anthropoliteia would like to introduce yet another in our series of new features: Interrogations, an interview series with authors and other people of potential interest to our readers.  The term ‘interrogation’ comes  the Latin inter “between” and rogare “question”.  It thus originally meant something like “to question between” (as opposed, for example, to examiner “to test, try, torture”).  Our plans for the series, which will edited by Kristen Drybread & Johanna Romer, are aimed at exploring this sense of the term.
We are happy to present to you the first in this series,  a conversation between Heath Cabot & William Garriott focused on Garriott’s edited volume Policing and Contemporary Governance: The Anthropology of Police in Practice (2013).

Heath Cabot: How did you come to this project: both the book, and looking critically at the anthropology of policing more generally? How do you situate it within the larger context of your work?

William Garriott: My book, Policing Methamphetamine, is where I first began working with the police concept. This generated a more general interest in the topic of police and policing. I soon met other anthropologists who were likewise engaged in the study of police. After a panel on policing at the AAAs, I was approached by Palgrave Macmillan about doing an edited volume.

One thing that distinguishes my work from many of my colleagues is that I have not focused on the police per se–that is, the uniformed officers that we typically think of when we hear the word “police.” For me, policing is a much broader enterprise. The uniformed police force is just one component, albeit a privileged one.

HC: If not the uniformed police officer, which kinds of persons comprise your understanding of policing?

WG: When we look at police more broadly—say at the level of policing or police power—then it starts to expand the number and kinds of persons involved. Activities such as licensing, record keeping, and other forms of administrative regulation may also be seen as constitutive of “police.” And that’s just at the level of the state. A full appreciation of police power goes beyond persons altogether.

A full appreciation of police power goes beyond persons altogether…. even some of our most cherished, intimate relationships are implicated in police

One point of reference for me is the legal concept of the police power. In the US context, this is, in essence, the state’s lawmaking or regulatory authority itself—“the Legislature’s power to enact rules to regulate conduct, to the extent that such laws are ‘necessary to secure the health, safety, good order, comfort, and general welfare of the community,’“ as one recent court opinion has it (Goodridge v Department of Public Health).

This, of course, harkens back to the earlier, broader definition of “police” that I reference in the introduction to the edited volume, and that scholars such as Mariana Valverde and Markus Dubber have recently reengaged in their “new police science” project. The court case I just referenced was concerned with marriage—marriage between couples of the same sex, in this case, but in order to make a ruling the authors of the opinion felt it necessary to articulate how marriage functions as a product and site of the police power more generally, of the state’s powers, interests and obligations as previously defined. So, from this perspective, even some of our most cherished, intimate relationships are implicated in police.

Heath Cabot

Heath Cabot teaches anthropology at the College of the Atlantic. (photo courtesy AllegraLab)

HC: Can you tell us more about what you mean by policing in practice? One of the more elegant aspects of your introduction is the genealogy you conduct of the concept (as opposed to purely the figure) of “police” in modernity. You show that the concept was, perhaps originally (if we can speak of such a thing), tied to the regulation of governance, and broader aspects of the social realm, such as cleanliness, productivity, and order. The figure of the officer is, you show, a fairly recent and specialized aspect of this. Yet, many current anthropologists interested in policing are interested in police, per se: to what extent does the uniformed officer correspond to these longer term formations of governance, and to what extent does policing, as a global form, innovate upon the genealogy that you develop?

WG: The volume makes the case that it is important to locate the modern figure of the police officer—and the mode of power this figure represents—within the genealogy of the police concept. Acknowledging the earlier, broader definition of police allows for a study of police officers that places them within a wider governmental milieu. This encourages us to look at the relationship between police officers and, say, zoning laws or public health programs, as well as, say, culture, as Erik Haanstad and Jeffrey Martin do in their chapters. At the same time, it is important to look at the figure of the police officer in its specificity. This is also a point the volume tries to make. Taking seriously the specificity of the modern police officer, as law enforcer, peace officer, violence worker, or what have you, forces us to take a different perspective than one purely informed by the earlier understanding of the term.

This different perspective is particularly important as we see the modern concept of policing, as something done primarily by uniformed police officers with a mandate to maintain “law and order,” etc., begin to reach the status of a global form utilized in diverse contexts. The UN, for instance, has spent the past decade working to expand its police force so as to better meet its traditional mandate within a changing world. What I hope other observers of contemporary police will ask is, Why is it that this particular institution has come to be seen as so relevant and necessary to the exercise of power today? What about it, in its specificity, has made it seem so essential?

HC: Great point that police as an institution is not simply restricted to state based governance. Where else do you see policing at work in contemporary formations of power? I am thinking specifically of my own work on border regimes in Greece, and how EU interventions sometimes buoy up but in many cases challenge state sovereignties. When does policing reinforce, and when does it challenge, the state? And to what extent has policing linked not just to penal practice, but also to the enactment of peace, humanitarian practice, and even care?

William Garriott is Assistant Professor in the Law, Politics and Society Program at Drake University. (photo courtesy Drake University)

WG: The UN police force referenced above provides one example of what you’re talking about. Interpol provides another interesting example. This is the focus of Meg Stalcup’s contribution. She notes the paradox that Interpol is not a police force in any conventional sense of the term, yet its own self-representations position it as the premiere global crime fighter. But to the extent that Interpol is engaged in “global policing,” it is through its role as a coordinator. The coordination of people—primarily domestic police officers from countries around the world—and information are two of the primary police functions it serves in this regard. This particular niche that Interpol has come to occupy is the result of the challenges of global policing and governance in our current political context where state sovereignty remains a powerful organizing principle. Thus, even as Interpol draws on the conventional image of the “crime fighter” to buttress its position as a police organization, the actual activities in which it is engaged may have the effect of modifying our understanding of what it means to “police” and “fight crime,” particularly on a global scale.

HC: Can you tell us more about what it means to take seriously the specificity of the modern police officer, from an ethnographic perspective? In the book, it becomes clear that this is not just a matter of “studying up” – or exploring the subjectivities and experiences of particular police. Though that, of course, may have a place… What are some of the specific methodological and ethical approaches and challenges that frame the ethnography of police in practice? Any particular ethical dilemmas or struggles that have emerged from your own ethnographic practice that might be illustrative?

WG: This issue runs throughout the book. One of the biggest issues, of course, is the issue of violence. Police have a unique capacity to employ violence, which can often put the ethnographer in difficult and even dangerous positions. The contributors to the volume encounter and react to this issue in different ways. Benjamin Penglase talks about being caught between the police and the “criminals” in the Brazilian favela where he carried out his research, neither of whom were particularly appealing interlocutors with which to identify. Teresa Caldeira illustrates what I would call a “lateral” approach to the study of police violence in Brazil. She uses statistics, media accounts, and interviews with the policed population to generate a holistic and highly nuanced understanding of the causes and consequences of police violence.

Kevin Karpiak offers an ethnographic perspective on the ethical conversation surrounding the use of force (amongst other things) in the context of actual police training among police in France. Beatrice Jauregui offers the most direct discussion of this issue, asking, after witnessing a rather brutal interrogation, whether ethnographic engagement with police constitutes a kind of “dirty anthropology” precisely because of the kind of ethical issues it raises. Finally, Philip Parnell’s chapter includes an interesting moment in which he discovers he cannot take pictures of the dwellings in urban Manila in which his interlocutors are residing. This was because their residence there was often not legal. They worried the picture would document their occupancy, draw attention from the government authorities, and result in the demolition of the building. Thus the ethnographer, here, had to avoid inadvertently being incorporated into the state’s own policing projects.

HC: I have just returned from a trip to Athens, the site of my own research (some of it involving policing). And I spoke with some of my interlocutors about how the increasing presence of the uniformed (and armed) police officer – on street corners, at airports, in public spaces — has become less a symbol of order and more an indication of the general disorder of both the Greek state and Greek society. One might argue that this is the case in other sites as well. How does that fit with your understanding of the relationship between order, disorder, and policing?

WG: Great question. Certainly police are a source of disorder in some communities. Benjamin Penglase’s chapter on the policing of Brazilian favelas shows precisely this. It may also be that police presence has come to signify danger more generally. I am reminded of when I arrived at a train station in the US that was overrun with police, including the explosives detection squad, bomb sniffing dogs, officers in riot gear, etc. It was not a reassuring scene to witness moments before boarding the train.

HC: I guess I am also asking how the semiotics that shape policing have or have not changed – or may be changing — in contemporary governance, amid increasing global fears around extra-state violence? On the one hand, we see that policing has become increasingly taken for granted as not only a legitimate but necessary aspect of forms and practices of governance. On the other hand, though, it seems to me that the increasing visibility of police – and other aspects of securitization – throw into relief the underlying aspects of disorder on which this institution is based.

WG: Indeed, and this is why it is not surprising that both John Comaroff in his foreword, and Joe Masco in his afterword, engage with Walter Benjamin’s discussion of police in “Critique of Violence.” Masco notes, “The very need for police is evidence for Benjamin of a failed social contract and the continual postponement of a truly just society” (265). So, for Benjamin, the use of police by a particular regime signifies that it is force, rather than justice, that is maintaining its authority. It is not hard to find examples of police performing this function in the contemporary world. In fact, the news is so often filled with stories and images of protestors facing off with police officers that this scene of “clashes with police” has become something of a cliché, so much so that it is “readable” across cultural and political contexts. All of this relates back to the question of violence in the context of state power and democracy—a theme which many of the contributors use their engagement with police to address.

Politeia was very much an expression of how the whole social order was constituted. It also refers to the way in which someone conducts their life. VERY distinct from the meanings of krateia (territory and the state) and kyvernisi (government).

HC: A final, more personal point: your discussion of the Greek is relevant. Politeia was very much an expression of how the whole social order was constituted. It also refers to the way in which someone conducts their life. VERY distinct from the meanings of krateia (territory and the state) and kyvernisi (government). In Greece now, I find that the household is very often the metaphor through which politeia is represented: through the Oikos, the house and the family. IE, the then prime minister said, with regard to the austerity measures, that we must “nikokirepsoume” (“clean house”). It invites us to think about the slippage of public and private in aspects of contemporary governance. What do you see as the relationship between public and private in the current “global” concept of police?

WG: I am reminded here of Markus Dubber’s work on the police power. Though writing about the US, he traces the concept of police to the patriarchal management of the household by the householder. For Dubber, this is an essential and constant aspect of the police power. And it deserves critical attention because such power is virtually limitless and largely discretionary. To the extent that Dubber’s analysis is correct, I think it encourages a focus on how such power manifests itself in diverse contexts today. The household provides an interesting site where the older, more general notion of police-as-governance might meet the more recent, specific notion of governance-as-police. Sticking with the US, changes in the response to domestic violence come to mind. What just a few decades ago was seen as a private matter has now been more formally criminalized and thus made a matter of police intervention.

HC: Where do you see the ethnography of police and policing headed? What about in your own work?

WG: It is an exciting time to be engaged in the ethnography of police and policing, particularly as an anthropologist. Anthropologists, of course, are not the only ones engaged in the ethnographic study of police, but they do face unique challenges. One key issue is that the “counter-hegemonic” orientation of much anthropology, if I may put it that way, has made police a somewhat problematic object of study.

the “counter-hegemonic” orientation of much anthropology… has made police a somewhat problematic object of study…. But it is for precisely this reason that anthropologists are poised to make a unique contribution to the ethnography of police and policing.

But it is for precisely this reason that anthropologists are poised to make a unique contribution to the ethnography of police and policing. I think the process of adapting standard disciplinary techniques and training to the study of police will be productive both for anthropology and for the wider scholarly study of police.

Moreover, the uniquely central place of ethnography to anthropology puts anthropologists in a privileged position to think through the question of what it means to do ethnography in the context of police—both for our understanding of police and for the practice of ethnography.

Each chapter in the edited volume deals with this either explicitly or implicitly. Likewise, Didier Fassin recently convened a conference at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton on “Ethnography and Policing” that took up this issue.  There is an edited volume planned. I’m excited both to read it myself, and to see how it is received within anthropology and the wider field of police studies. Indeed, my own work at the moment includes continued reflection on police and policing as an object of ethnographic investigation and anthropological analysis. As noted above, police and policing are somewhat troublesome objects for anthropology—productively so, in my opinion.

 

Heath Cabot teaches anthropology at the College of the Atlantic. She is the author of On the Doorstep of Europe: Asylum and Citizenship in Greece.
William Garriott is Assistant Professor in the Law, Politics and Society Program at Drake University. In addition to editing Policing and Contemporary Governance, he is the author of Policing Methamphetamine: Narcopolitics in Rural America and co-editor (with Eugene Raikhel) of Addiction Trajectories.
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Dossiers, From the Field

Economies of Security and Care in Catalonia, Spain

The editors of Anthropoliteia welcome Johanna Römer with a Dossier in our From the Field section.

Police Marcha Dignidad

Police presence at the Marcha por la Dignidad. Photo courtesy of Lee Douglas.

 

“The history of prisons in Spain?” a Catalan prison guard asked me, a man in his mid-forties, his hands resting on a heavy leather belt. “Everything has already been written. Our vocabulary, our forms of punishment – even the word cell itself, all come from Catholic and monastic practices.”

He turned to face the thick glass wall of the bunker.

“I spent years teaching…in law enforcement, in the private sector, and now I just want to be here, with these guys [inmates], where I can have peace and quiet,” he said, nodding towards a small group of men talking softly around a checked tablecloth whose color was imperceptible through the glass.

“Look at that. No one makes problems.”

While monitoring the inmates through the glass, the guard narrated other stories of prison work; but his last seemingly unremarkable comment, “no one makes problems,” stayed with me.

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Commentary & Forums, Dossiers, From the Field, Security in Brazil: World Cup 2014 and Beyond

The Brazilian Military, Public Security, and Rio de Janeiro’s “Pacification”

The editors of Anthropoliteia welcome Stephanie Savell with the latest entry in our forum Security in Brazil: World Cup 2014 and Beyond.
Army soldier addresses resident of Complexo do Alemão. Photo: Bruno Itan.

Army soldier addresses resident of Complexo do Alemão. Photo: Bruno Itan.

The Brazilian army and marines have in recent years played a more visible role in the provision of public security in Rio de Janeiro. The army currently occupies the sprawling set of informal neighborhoods, or favelas, known as Complexo da Maré, a “temporary solution” timed to accompany World Cup events in the city. The occupation, intended to repress the local control of drug trafficking gangs, will be followed by the installation of more permanent “Police Pacifying Units,” or “UPPs,” as part of Rio’s favela “pacification” program.

Between 2011 and 2012, the armed forces similarly occupied the favela Complexo do Alemão, where I lived for a year conducting ethnographic research (2013-2014). Here, based on that research, I examine the significance of the army’s participation in public security.

Many insiders and keen observers of security in Rio were quick to tell me that the army’s deployment in police pacification is not a trend – Alemão was unique, they said. But in addition to the current deployment in Maré, there are other indications to the contrary. In recent years, the constitutional clause, Garantia da Lei e da Ordem (GLO), or “Guarantee of Law and Order,” which allows for the use of the military in public security operations, has been continuously elaborated and refined. Under former President Lula’s administration, and now under Dilma Rousseff, the military has been used for an increasing number of situations, from pacification to oil auctions to the Pope’s visit and the World Cup. These are not isolated events; they invite us to question the military’s provision of public security and how it is understood, especially by security forces and by the urban poor whose neighborhoods the military patrols. Continue reading

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DragNet

DragNet: June 15 – 30, 2014

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After months of debate, the ACLU released previously sealed records regarding the cell phone-tracking tool in use by several departments.

 

The topic of surveillance packed a powerful punch this month, with the court releasing documents regarding Stingray technology capabilities. After months of debate, the ACLU released previously sealed records regarding the cell phone-tracking tool in use by several departments. The publication comes nearly 3 months after initial buzz about the tool that circulated after a suspect’s phone was used by police to track him to his apartment prior to obtaining a warrant. The more notable specifics of the technology can be found here.

The problem of prison over crowding is presented by Alyse Berenthal’s article in Anthropology News this month. As an anthropologist interested in the ethnographic aspects of justice, Berenthal spent time working with people in self-help legal clinics. By restricting definitions of justice to the individual level, Alyse work offers insights to the pitfalls of an over burdened justice system.

The truth is in the data.   The proof is in the series of graphs presented by Nicole Flatlow in Think Progress’ article about the existential growth of the US prison population. States like California are so over-populated with prisoners that courts have ordered that prisons take steps to reduce inmate populations. Local jails are feeling the pain of overcrowding, with large volumes of low-risk or offenders awaiting trial making up a large proportion of total prisoner populations.

Also in surveillance is Kirsten Weld’s post about the institutionalization of intelligence gathering by the US. From the Spanish-American War, to FDR’s administration, to the aftermath of 9/11: it becomes apparent that data mining is nothing new to the US’ administrative history. Whether or not the US has a right to act as “global policeman” has yet to be determined by both the law and its citizens.

Stingray technology was not the only cause of raised eyebrows this month. James Eyers of Financial Review put tap-and-go credit card technology under scrutiny in a post from earlier this month. Some departments are criticizing tap and go transactions; pointing to higher theft and break-ins by criminals looking for this specific type of credit card. Banks are standing by their anti-identification policies, stating that crime inevitably changes alongside technological innovations and they as a financial entity cannot be held accountable.

First shared in May, Mother Jones’ post by Katie Quandt was popular again this month. Entitled “What it’s like to visit your mother in prison on mother’s day”, Quandt reflects about the impact of her foster sister’s incarceration on her role as a mother. The article comes shortly after Sesame Street’s recent initiative to talk about challenges children with parents in prison face, citing that 1 in 28 children fall into this category (with that stat increasing to 1 in 9 children among African American children).

Have plans to lounge beachside this summer? If so, you can’t miss David Thompson’s “must read” journal articles for Spring 2014. Catch up on the latest in anthropology and policing in scholarly publications here.

Border Criminologies announced their recent initiative to first digitize and eventually physically document material works by UK immigrants. The archive is intended to act as a reminder of the creative process of individuals even during times of extreme stress and uncertainty. It serves to emphasize the role of material culture in criminology.

Should community policing lead the way in 2014? Steve Early advocates for this approach in In These Times pose on June 23rd. He attributes the more “reactive policing” approaches to post-9/11 emphasis on response. Would regular officer assignments result in higher reliability ratings from the public? Should community relationship building be instated to replace reactive responses?

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Commentary & Forums, Dispatches, From the Field, Security in Brazil: World Cup 2014 and Beyond

The Other Side of the Bay – Social Consequences Across from Rio de Janeiro

The editors of Anthropoliteia welcome Nick Wong and Stuart Davis with the latest entry in our forum Security in Brazil: World Cup 2014 and Beyond.
Photo by Nick Wong CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

A young boy playing in Fazenda dos Mineiros. Many of the toys provided to the children are donations from church organizations and other social programs aimed at helping these communities. They are insured to be in good working condition before donation, but due to the large demand for toys, children remain with the same toy for years. Photo by Nick Wong CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Our first contact with the Fazenda dos Mineiros community was by chance encounter. We were invited to visit the home of a friend, Gilberto Lima, a community leader who works in Rio de Janeiro and São Gonçalo on children’s rights, among other issues of social justice. Gilberto was the uncle of a friend back in the US who helped one of us prepare for our respective Fulbright terms, and for hospitality’s sake, he invited us over for lunch. What we didn’t know was how much the visit would influence our nine months in Brazil.

Located 15 miles across the Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro’s historic downtown, the city of São Gonçalo has followed a much different path than its famous neighbor.[1] Continue reading

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In the Journals

In the Journals, Spring 2014

Welcome back to In the Journals, a round-up of some of the latest publications tackling questions of crime, law and order, justice, policing, surveillance and the state. Should you find yourself with some reading time over the summer, here is a selection of some recent articles and reviews from recent months that grapple with these themes from different perspectives.

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DragNet

DragNet: June 1 – 15, 2014

"The challenge of on-officer cameras is the tension between their potential to invade privacy and their strong benefit in promoting police accountability," ~ACLU

“The challenge of on-officer cameras is the tension between their potential to invade privacy and their strong benefit in promoting police accountability,” ~ACLU

June kicked off with a post by Scott Shafer of NPRNews regarding the drastic increase in California parole rates. Where previous years saw less than a 10% release rate for “lifers”, 2013 recorded a near doubling of this statistic. California governor Jerry Brown has reiterated that crime type is no longer as much of a determining factor for parole as is the level of threat an inmate poses to the community.  For more about the parole increase, check out Matt Levin’s article about lifers freed from prisons as well as his timeline cataloging the history of California parole trends.

“To the radicalized youth who demonstrated in 14 Brazilian state capitals on May 15, the World Cup represents a fundamental flaw in the Workers’ Party (PT) project,” writes Rodrigo Nunes in a news post from Aljazeera. While your friends are busy blowing up your Facebook feed about the soccer of World Cup, Brazilians continue to show outrage that the event has brought their country few winners, but many losers. For more about the political implications of the World Cup, check out Werner Krauss’ article on the Huffington Post.  Here, he dissects the event from a structural-ritual perspective. Anthropoliteia also featured a post from Meg Stalcup in our continuing coverage of the World Cup.

It’s not just police getting virtual these days- so are crime scenes. In a personal favorite post by Kashmir Hill of Forbes, Hill recounts the Internet trail left behind by Santa Barbara Shooter Elliot Rodger. The troubled youth produced several YouTube videos documenting his gradual decline into criminal violence.

What would Jeremy Bentham and Michel Foucault have to say about Lebanese prison systems? Yazan al-Saadi’s post on Al-Akhbar evokes this and other questions about surveillance and control. The original panopticon envisioned a top-down power structure wielded by authority figures over non-authority figures.  In the context of Lebanese prisons, however, this concept is turned on its head as it is the prisoner who seemingly wields ultimate control.  Also in surveillance, the wife of ex-IRA prisoner Anthony McIntyre has requested a formal investigation by the US state department after sensitive information from a phone call with the US embassy appeared in a popular tabloid a few days later.

An unlikely economical analysis of police body mounted cameras appeared in The Motley Fool’s investing section.  Ryan Lowery reflects on the potential profitability of the leading police tech companies (including TASER and L-3 Communications) that produce the majority of the equipment.

Issues of excessive force, surveillance and militarization come to a head in Kent Paterson’s post on CounterPunch. Using recent examples of militaristic responses by members of the Albuquerque police department, Paterson builds up to a broader discussion about the impact of police technologies on aggressive responses and use of force by US police departments.

Juvenile detention centers in California will be receiving $80 billion in coming months to rejuvenate current facilities. Several proposals for amenities and new features reinforce a community-based emphasis.  Officials hope the restructuring will help to solidify rehabilitation as a prevailing theme.

Tina Dupuy authored an engaging piece about casual vs. institutionalized racism in AlterNet this month. Why does the US rally more readily against casual comments than it does to institutionalized forms of racism (such as the prison system)? And further, does/can one form of racism lead to the other?

“Ban them, ban them all with a carve out for hunting weapons,” says Scott Martelle from LA Times Opinion. Referring to his admittedly minority stance on gun control in America, Martelle proposes the next steps for eliminating gun violence in America.

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DragNet

DragNet: May 16 – 31, 2014

militarization of US police

“An armored military assault vehicle was donated to the department by the US military, fueling discussions about whether there should be (or is) a separation of US police and US military.”

The U.S. isn’t the only country experiencing a stark growth in prison populations. While true that the US has the highest proportion of its citizens behind bars, Brazil and China are among other countries recording higher prison population numbers. In honor of the 40th anniversary of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975) the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History will be hosting a global conference for social sciences and humanities researchers to discuss the rising role of the prison in the modern age.

A supposedly “shifting” image of the typical heroin user in the 21st century strikingly resembles the rich, white, socialite users of 1880s Boston. A feature by Adam Rathge appeared in Points Blog; chronicling the shift of opiate usage by race and social class during this time frame. Special attention is paid to the impact of state legislation and local law enforcement initiatives prior to the passing of official federal mandates. In other opiate-related news, the question as to whether heroin use should be pursued as a crime versus an illness is being debated in states such as Rhode Island. With this past January seeing a more than doubled rate of lethal heroin overdoses, the state is pushing to equip officers with Narcan to better prevent heroin-related deaths. Read the interview with the state’s Director of Health, Dr. Michael Fine, for details.

$6.2 billion (to most of us) is quite a large sum of money. This is precisely the amount allocated to US police departments by the 41 million speeding tickets issued in any given year. What would happen to law enforcement budgets if cars were (almost magically) able to “drive themselves”? Google’s driverless cars are raising precisely this question among law enforcement officials and civilians alike.

Have you suddenly started noticing people talking a lot about Netflix’s newest series, Orange is the New Black? Even without being caught up, you can still enjoy a roundtable discussion inspired by the show that was hosted by the folks at Public Books.

Is live monitoring of surveillance cameras the way to ensure “effective panopticism”? Syracuse Chief of Police Frank Fowler seems to think so. Earlier in May, Fowler proposed that officers should evolve from their current, reactive use of cameras to respond to crimes that have already committed. Fowler argues that live monitoring of surveillance feeds by officers will convert cameras into a proactive policing tool.

If you’re planning a summer vacation that requires a considerable amount of time in the car, plug into NPR News’ RSS feed we shared last month. A myriad of police-related podcasts are featured, and are sure to make the ride feel faster. In case you exhaust that list, we recommend Archipelago’s feature on policing in downtown Oakland. Listen to Bryan Finoki, Nick Sowers and Javier Arbona as they explore the hyper-policed areas of the former Occupy movement.

Originally published 35 years ago, Policing the Crisis regained the spotlight in our Book Reviews section in May. Merijn Oudenampsen discusses how the book’s message has evolved since its first publication and applies its take-aways to the current climate of Dutch politics.

Speaking of anniversaries, 2014 also marks 10 years since Jacque’s Derrida’s passing. Anthropoliteia circulated information about an upcoming gathering of Derridian legal scholars organized by Critical Legal Thinking. Speakers include Aggie Hirst and Cathering Kellogg.

In other news, Hamtramck, MI police inspired mixed emotions upon the debut of its newest “addition”. An armored military assault vehicle was donated to the department by the US military, fueling discussions about whether there should be (or is) a separation of US police and US military.

Macedonian police also made headlines in May, with ethnic rioting in Skopje provoking criticisms about excessive use of force. Thanks to Tweeter Chris Diming, who provided an additional post from the Independent Balkan News Agency.

Do anthropologists belong in police departments? Anthropoliteia’s newest regular feature –Practicum- debuted with a post from our new author Jennie Simpson. Tune in to read Jennie’s reflections and experiences about what its like to be a social scientist working for/with departments.

 

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Practicum

New Feature: Practicum– Applying Anthropology to the Study of Policing, Security, Crime and Criminal Justice Systems

Police Call Box, Washington, DC © Jennie Simpson 2014

Police Call Box, Washington, DC © Jennie Simpson 2014

Welcome to the new bimonthly feature, Practicum on Anthropoliteia! I am your host and will be guiding this journey into an exploration of the intersections of applied and practicing anthropology with the study of policing, security, crime, and criminal justice systems. Today’s column focuses on mapping out the unique niche of applied work in policing. Comments are welcome!

A year ago, I was asked by a former chief of police now active in policy and research to write a white paper mapping out what a “police anthropologist” might look like, replete with arguments on how anthropologists could contribute both to the study of policing and to police departments. I spent many hours reflecting on my own work with police agencies and imagining how I could translate anthropological aims and methods into work with police agencies. The result was a thoughtful exercise in outlining how anthropologists might be integrated into the world of policing, in which I argued:

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