“The flow is not one way, (defense) institutions also return home transformed,” writes Stuart Schrader in his post Police Empire. Stuart helped us kick-off the month of September, picking up again with the theme of police militarization. Perhaps a surprise for many to learn, Stuart discusses how militarization and “blurred” policing boundaries are hardly novel developments. Though these topics reached an apex shortly after the death of Michael Brown, the tendency of police to apply foreign tactics in home territories has been happening for several decades.
Sasha Goldstein of the New York Daily News continued the militarization thread with the story of a Texas man who was shot by police recently at a Texas truck stop. Though some officers were armed with AR-15s, more attention was gained by the (now notorious) “fist bump” exchanged between two officers. The move was caught on video following the shooting. Despite being armed with a non-lethal BB gun, the man reportedly raised the replica and pointed it at officers before they open fired.
Between police militarization and never-ending streams about officer use of force, many are wondering what if anything is being done to ensure the effective monitoring of police in the field. If you are among those scratching their heads, be sure to catch NPR’s feature “Can Body Cameras Civilize Police Encounters?” Where the benefits of badge cameras are easily perceived by the public, the lesser-known “cons” (and implementation difficulties) are often overlooked. In addition to Ferguson, officers in several jurisdictions (including Florida and soon, Washington, DC) are already adopting the technology.
David Greene wins this week for favorite “off beat topic of September-so-far,” covering the mandate for NYPD officers to attend social media 101 training. In case you forgot, the reason behind the training stems back to the April 2014 twitter campaign disaster, #myNYPD.
And last but so-not-least, the folks at Anthropoliteia were pleased to offer not one but two new posts for your reading pleasure. The first, A new grammar of public security in Brazil, was featured September 1st in our Book Reviews section. Daniel Silva reviews Paulo Mesquita Neto’s “Essays on Civilian Security” (2011). We also welcomed back In the Journals, which offers a bi-monthly rundown of recent academic publications. Be sure to check out August’s highlights!
Did I miss something? No worries- it does happen on occasion. If you have any suggestions for DragNet, or if you want to call attention to a specific blog or article, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the words “DragNet” in the subject header and I’ll get on it!
Why has Brazil’s 1988 democratic constitution advanced in promoting broad civil and economic rights while leaving (almost) unchanged the regulation of the police and armed forces? What’s the impact of Brazil’s Human Rights National Program in recent efforts of democratizing Brazilian society and building up an alternative to a minimal neoliberal state? Why have some types of public security policies been defined without much clarity, especially those that target the non-white-elites? These are some of the questions that Paulo de Mesquita Neto – a Brazilian scholar in political science who prematurely died in 2008 – asks in this collection of essays that he gathered under the rubric of Essays on citizen security. The book as a whole bears the imprint of an author striving to combine the vocabulary and syntax of democratic rule with a scrutiny of public security in Latin America – a grammar not too simple to practice in a continent that during the 1960s and 1970s surrendered to several authoritarian regimes whose marks are still noticeable, if not overly prominent, in current political culture and public debates.
The book as a whole bears the imprint of an author striving to combine the vocabulary and syntax of democratic rule with a scrutiny of public security in Latin America
Whether you rely on Twitter, Facebook, Washington Post or Reddit for updates, chances are your August feed has been dominated by discussions surrounding the death of Michael Brown. Matt Thompson of Savage Minds touched upon the conflicting coverage of recent events in Ferguson (as well as the implications highlighted by news entities like The Washington Post and New York Times) in his entry, “What is a rioter?” Likewise, the short (and terrifyingly poignant) comic featured in Medium’s August 14th post expands upon the reality of modern police militarization. Among other problems, it emphasizes the role of basic training (or lack thereof) in the police use of military-issued equipment.
If militarization is of particular interest, be sure to check out Taylor Wofford’s piece in Newsweek. Although many associate the growing police use of military grade gear and weaponry with Ferguson protests, Wofford details how departments have been “silently preparing officers for battle” as far back as the early ‘90s.
The Economist’s post Cops or Soldiers? is also relevant to concerns about police militarization. More intriguing is the fact that the article was originally featured back in March (preceding the events in Ferguson). Although SWAT teams are implied as representing an important tool of departments, when and where such teams should be deployed remain key (unanswered) questions.
Of course, Anthropoliteia staff have not been silent bystanders to Ferguson discussions. Meg Stalcup offered insight about the series of events, providing the seldom-addressed topic of officer perceptions. Although the dynamic of officer-civilian relations remains mostly hostile, Stalcup posits that with officer’s “under threat perception, it’s not surprising, although unprofessional and deplorable, that officers menace the protestors they are supposed to protect.” Lastly, don’t miss Anthropoliteia’s second Ferguson post Blue on black violence and original crime: view from Oakland, California. Our developing forum featured Brad Erickson on August 21st. In his post, Erickson uses his own experiences researching the people and police of Oakland, CA to comment on the racial and militaristic implications of Michael Brown’s shooting.