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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Dispatches

An encounter with “Sky Watch” on a block in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

The editors of Anthropoliteia would like to welcome a special guest post from Orisanmi Burton as part of our series of anthropological reports From the Field
Figure 1: Surveillance Cameras on Gates Avenue

Figure 1: Surveillance Cameras on Gates Avenue

The first thing I noticed when I reached the corner of Gates Avenue and Lewis Avenue in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY was the pair of surveillance cameras perched conspicuously overhead (Figure 1). Each was approximately 15 inches long and five inches wide. Their white color contrasted sharply against the red brick of the building next to me, as if they were designed to be noticed. But their gaze was not trained on me. Instead, they were pointed toward opposite ends of the street corner. I then noticed a second pair of cameras about 300 feet from the first. One of them pointed directly at me. The other had an altogether different design, a sphere suspended in the air. I imagined a camera inside of it that could rotate 360 degrees. Thick black cables sprouted from the back of the devices, extending across the length of the building like arteries. Continue reading

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Blotter

Anthropoliteia In the News (through 11/13/09)

To quote Timbaland, “It’s been a long time/ Shouldn’t have left you / without a dope beat to step to”

That’s right, it’s time for one more pre-AAA Annual Meetings edition of Anthropoliteia In The News.

Cultural Anthropology & Security

Thanks in part to one of our co-Anthropoliteia-ers, Michelle Stewert (along with Vivian Choi), we not along can enjoy a special “virtual issue” of the journal Cultural Anthropology on the theme of “security” but we can look forward to a discussion with several of the authors at this years Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association.  The event will be called “Thematizing Security” and will be held Friday December 4th at 12:15pm.  Discussion participants will include Didier Fassin, Ilana Feldman, Andrew Lakoff, and Joseph Masco

Policing the Rio Olympics

In the wake of being awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics, a violent outburst between police and drug gangs which left two dozen dead has garnered increased international scrutiny for Rio police forces, NPR reports.  Chief among the Rio police’s strategies are community-policing style attempts to integrate the police force into the poorest and most troubled areas.

Whether these strategies will actually reduce violence is unclear.  As one woman lamented,   “The violence you are seeing on TV which happened last weekend you have almost every day. If not in this favela, you have it in another favela.

“Nation’s Top Cop”

Former Boston, New York City–and now Los Angeles–police chief Bill Bratton stepped down from his position as the nation’s “top cop”  in order to work for a private security consulting agency.  Bratton has been closely associated with both the “zero tolerance” and “broken windows” philosophies of urban policing. On his last day he addressed the LAPD via radio dispatch, repeating his motto, “cops count, police matter” to the listening troops.

(Not) Famous Last Words

Claire Cameron at the New York Times wrote a haunting piece using the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s database of death row executionee’s last words.

The Clock Is Ticking

Anthropoliteia-er Meg Stalcup writes, over at On the Assembly of Things, about the release, by the US Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, of “The Clock Is Ticking,” a progress report on what has happened with the recommendations made in the 2008 World at Risk publication.

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