In the News: Budget Cuts and Community Policing in the UK

UK officials embark upon immense budget cuts that will greatly impact policing.  Last week Greater Manchester Police excited public attention by Tweeting every call they received in 24 hours. The Chief Constable said he wanted to show that the police don’t just deal with crime and instead play a larger role in the community.  Yet, in the face of impending budget cuts, many feel crime-fighting should constitute the majority of police officer time.  Nick Herbert the Coalition’s Conservative police minister, argues that “Labour’s wasteful legacy,” has allowed for a proliferation of bureaucracy and unnecessary policing costs.  He asserts that police will be able to catch more criminals with a smaller budget and fewer officers.  Jan Berry, outgoing head of the UK’s Police Federation, echoes Herbert’s sentiments over police inefficiency, reporting this past week that up to 1/3 of police time is wasted on red tape.  Ultimately she contends that “Too much attention is given to crossing Ts and dotting Is and not enough to getting it right first time.”

First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, argues that police cuts are necessary, but contends that cuts will affect police bureaucracy -not street policing.  In a recent speech, he emphasized that “if it comes down to a choice between cops and bureaucracy, between bobbies on the beat and the boundaries of police authorities…it’s policemen first, safety first, communities first.”  Strathclyde Chief Constable Steve House, Scotland’s most senior officer, paints a very different picture of policing after the cuts.  He has warned that state spending cuts could drive his force back to the “bad old days” before his community policing revolution.  Scotland is expected to reduce its budged by 25% over the next five years, which House says will force him to take officers off the beat and put them back into patrol cars if spending is slashed as expected.  He argues this change would reduce community members’ sense of safety, noting that “If [the police] have to retreat to the bad old days when all [they] do is put out squad cars racing from job to job with blue lights and sirens that then will just make the public uneasy because they don’t see cops walking, they don’t see them on bicycles, which is what gives them confidence.”


In the News: Police Corruption, Civil Unrest, and Excessive Force

A bit of policing news from around the globe…

This year Costa Rican officials embarked upon a crackdown on corruption among the Policia de Transito, or traffic cops.  So far, 50 corrupt officers have been detained, caught by undercover officers paying mordidas, or bribes, with marked bills.  The majority of cops apprehended had been working in the police service for 10-15 years, suggesting the practice of asking for payoffs in exchange for not giving out traffic tickets may be deeply entrenched in police culture.

While Costa Rica works to rid their police of corruption, a recent Egyptian court ruling has banned Egyptian police from patrolling Cairo University’s campus altogether.  In place of police, the University will deploy civilian security guards.  Check out activist and blogger Hassam El Hamalawy’s analysis that frames the court decision within the context of civil protest and police use of excessive force here.

In France, police and protesters clash as the government attempts to regain control of oil refineries.  Just hours before the Senate vote on the controversial pension reform bill, “helmeted riot police in body armor shoved striking workers aside to force open the gates of the Total SA refinery at Grandpuits,” one of 12 French refineries that has been shut down by union strikers for days.  Protesters symbolically burned a coffin after the police intervention.


Criminology student becomes the chief of police

It’s a remarkable turn of events that Marisol Valles Garcia, a 20-year-old criminology student, has taken on the position of chief of police in Praxedis G. Guerrero, a small town in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, bordering Texas. Praxedis G. Guerrero is located in the Juarez Valley, 35 miles southeast of Ciudad Juarez, called “the bloodiest city in Mexico”, with a reported 2,500 people killed in cartel-related violence so far this year. At night, drug gangs take over, and most of the police buildings in surrounding towns have been abandoned.

Marisol Valles Garcia was the only applicant for the job according to most news outlets, although the UK Guardian reported that the town’s mayor, Jose Luis Guerrero, said she was the most qualified of a handful of applicants. The Guardian added that in many parts of Mexico, it is “considered tantamount to a death sentence”. Valles Garcia’s plan is to have a dozen or so mostly female, unarmed officers “out there going door to door, looking for criminals, and (in homes) where there are none, trying to teach values to the families”. This plan is both touching and pragmatic, as the force currently consists of “13 agents, nine of them women, with one working patrol car, three automatic rifles and a pistol”.

Valles Garcia told CNN en Español, “The weapons we have are principles and values, which are the best weapons for prevention” and “[o]ur work will be pure prevention. We are not going to be doing anything else other than prevention”.

According to CNN, Valles Garcia “aims to establish programs in neighborhoods and schools, to win back security in public spaces and to foster greater cooperation among neighbors so they can form watch committees”.

I wonder how the reported plan for an unarmed, mostly female patrol was developed. Yes, it is pragmatic, but since Valles Garcia has also been assigned two body guards, and there’s been a fair amount of media attention, presumably other resources could have been appropriated for the town. So let’s say it is a choice. There’s a long history of unarmed patrols of course – does anyone have those references handy? In March 2010, there was the “Female approach to Peacekeeping” article in the NYTimes, about an all-women United Nations police unit from India, in Liberia. I did a quick search for precedents as well and saw that Manila had an “all-women mobile patrol” group that monitored malls during the Christmas season. Actually, most of the stories on women police officers were from India, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

That an untested college student was the best option, considering the crime and violence in the region, surely says something – about her stunning bravery, about the failure of traditional approaches, about the desperate conditions there. There’s nothing to say that Valles Garcia didn’t just decide to do this on her own though. Maybe she is drawing on ideas from her criminology classes.


In the News: Prisons, Police Interrogations, and Customs and Border Protection at the Supreme Court (?)

Getting some momentum into the semester, here’s a few bits of news from around the internet tubes:

Dr. Jonathan Simon, UC Berkeley, talks with George Kenney on Electric Politics: Rewiring the American Regime about his new book Governing Through Crime, which focuses on the growth of the U.S. prison system in conjunction with the ever-growing “security mindset” that has crept into nearly all aspects of American society.

Professor Kassin speaks briefly about the role of police in obtaining false confessions (especially in relation to youth and other vulnerable populations), police interrogation techniques (including lying to  suspects), and the difficulty of discerning false confessions from real confessions.

U.S. Supreme Court petitioned to hear a mother’s case against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) after her 4th generation, U.S. citizen daughter is deported to Mexico with the child’s undocumented father.  The petition followed a judgement handed down by the U.S. Court of appeals for the 5th circuit stating that while the court did not “condone the Border Patrol’s actions or the choices it made,” the mother could not bring suit against CBP because BP agents were entitled to use their discretion in the matter.


Recent Magazine Articles on Incarceration

Ran across this recent piece and thought I’d post it.

Prison Without Walls appears in this month’s Atlantic. It is written by Graeme Wood and discusses the use of home monitoring/electronic ankle monitors. Of note I think is the discussion including some that “correct” elements of the text. A few months back the Economist also ran some work on prisons (Joys of Overcrowding)which also generated a few interesting comments.

I find these types of pieces (and the online comments)  useful teaching tools. Are there other recent pieces that are on people’s radar?


L’anthropoliteia In the News (12-février-2012)

That’s right, since I haven’t done one of these in a while, since my stock of saved links has become overwhelming and since a string of news events this week has got my mojo running, I’ve decided to do a Franco-centric version of Anthropoliteia In the News… so here goes:


A teenage girl was held in police custody for anywhere, from 7 and a half to 11 hours, after being involved in a fight outside her school in the 20th arrondissement of Paris.  Police took her from her home without letting her change out of her pajamas, leading to the media explosion of what I’m calling “pyjama-gate”.

[rant button on]

As could probably be expected from these sort of media affairs, there has been a proliferation of punditry and position taking only tenusously connecting to reality or real political seriousness.  It looks like if there’s any real movement that results from this, it will involve re-examining the use of “garde a vue” detention practices by police officers.

On the other hand,  the obsessive repetition of the detail of the girl’s pajamas in the story seems completely non-random in a country that is going through a parallel obsession over of the burka/veil/hijab/head scarf/any-“ostentatious”-religious-sign.  If I were to try to bring the quickly accumulating scholarship on the veil controversy to bear on this issue, I would say that this is the flip side, or at least another angle on, the contradictions of French republican democracy as played out upon female bodies.

… so color me Joan W. Scott, with an important addendum: in the framing of the voice *against* state intervention, the state is imagined as police.  In the framing *for* state intervention, state as “protector of women” and “guarantor of secular equality” there are many governmental institutions imagined and invoked (school, post-office, bus drivers, banks) but almost never the police.  There’s an important point to be explored there…

[rant button off]

Survey on ethnic and racial composition of French police

As I’ve discussed over at my personal blog, a survey was published suggesting that almost 10% of French police are “issued from immigration” (itself a tricky term in need of significant unpacking). This was big news because, on the one hand, these kind state-run surveys of race & ethnicity are extremely rare and politically contentious in France; and, on the other, not many people thought the numbers would be even that high.

“Welcome to Le Jungle (again), now leave (again)”

First there was the Red Cross center at Sangatte, which housed immigrants looking to make their way from France to the UK.  Then, in 2002 this center was closed down, causing the quasi-organic  growth of a much-criticized quasi-detention center/refugee camp known as “Le Jungle”.  Then,  last September, this was also closed down and bulldozed over.  From this rubble, an organization known as No Border took over a wharehouse where it housed about 100 refugees from Afghanistan.  That is, until now.  The BBC reports that French police created a security perimeter and eventually moved in to expel the remaining activists and refugees.

The spokesman for Sarkozy’s UMP party defended the move by denouncing “the manipulation of migrants by anti-globalization associations…. [who] feed on human misery in order to defend their extreme ideology,” echoing vice-president of the Front nationale Marie Le Pen’s criticism of No Border as “facilitating illegal immigration through illegal and violent actions”.  For his part, former Socialist Prime Minister Laurent Fabius suggested that while France couldn’t naturalize everyone, those who couldn’t be accepted should be treated in a “more European” manner.

Quick Hits

  • TF1 News reports that, in the 2010 report of the Cour de Comptes, a sort of  budgetary and auditing office of the French government, the Police Nationale are criticized for its extravagant use of funds, especially around the use of unmarked police vehicles.  In addition to the sheer increase in number of the vehicles (1,469 in September 2008 versus 1,218 in January 2003), the court alleges that these vehicles are often “luxurious” and “over-equipped… to an unjustifiable degree” while at the same time they’re driven overly recklessly (each vehicle being involved in an accident on average every 15 months) and being requisitioned for the personal use not only of police officers, but former Presidents and Prime Ministers (read between the political lines here) as well.
  • On the other hand, the municipal police in Toulouse have been trying out the use of Segway vehicles, or “gyropodes” as they’re called in French.  This gave the opportunity to publish some killer stats, which include:
    • the total costs of these vehicles amounts to about 5 euros a day, calculating the electricity cost at about 2.50 euros per 1000 kilometers
    • policemen using the vehicle cover 9x the area, deploy 4x faster and have 15x the contact with the population (don’t ask me how the calculate that last one, especially because whatever that contact means it includes interacting with someone standing 20cm about the ground)
  • Even though they don’t directly refer to this specific 20cm, in an interview with Le Monde criminologists Sebastian Roché and Jacques de Maillard (who make frequent appearances in my own dissertation, both as solo acts and as a tag team) decry the increasing distance in France between police and the people they’re supposed to be policing.  The idea behind the police de proximité was not only a move towards preventative policing, but towards a less centralized and hierarchical structure within the police itself.
  • Finally, Claude Bartolone, deputy of the Socialist Party (PS), accused Minister of the Interior Brice Hortefeux of trying to create a  “police without policemen” through his use of video surveillance… Which,  those of us who have read too much Foucault, would say is of course kind of exactly the point

As always, if you have any news you’d like added, let me know in the comments section or contact me


More on Racial Profiling Allegations in Lake County

From the Lake County News article by Elizabeth Larson:

Deputy’s association calls racial profiling allegations false; sheriff plans to release documents
Written by Elizabeth Larson
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
LAKE COUNTY – On Monday, the county’s sheriff’s deputy association called allegations of racism and racial profiling within their ranks untrue.

Following an emergency meeting held Monday morning, the Lake County Deputy Sheriff’s Association issued a statement in response to allegations made in the Bay Area media by Deputy Francisco Rivero and former department members Kip Ringen and Brian Lande.

“These false allegations are an insult to the hard working men and women of Lake County’s law enforcement,” said association President Gary Frace in the written statement.

On Monday Rivero, Ringen and Lande all stood by their comments.

Their allegations – that some of the agency’s deputies have made arrests and traffic stops based on race – were the focus of a television report last week. Rivero said the interviews they gave were filmed in May.

The claims were cause for alarm from fellow deputies.

“On behalf of the Lake County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, we adamantly deny the allegations made by Frank Rivero, Kip Ringen and Brian Lande that racism and racial profiling are rampant within the Lake County Sheriff’s Department,” Frace’s statement said.

“The Lake County Deputy Sheriff’s Association members are extremely competent and professional men and women who strive to serve the community each and every day,” the statement continued. “We are dedicated to working with the administration and the community to establish a safe and secure place for the residents and visitors of Lake County.”

The statement went on to insist that association members “do not condone any racism, racial profiling, or discrimination of any kind and will not tolerate any such action.”

It also noted that the group is consulting with its attorneys regarding the claims and will comment further in the near future pending an investigation.

In a separate action, Sheriff Rod Mitchell said he’s planning to respond to the allegations by releasing on Tuesday documents and a time line of events to show how his agency has dealt with the issues.

Mitchell said the sheriff’s office has investigated every incident of alleged racial profiling that’s been raised, with one still under investigation that’s based on the statements of Solano County defense attorney Nick Falloy.

Falloy claimed to have seen a deputy slap a Hispanic man on the back of the head during an arrest he witnessed while on a ride-along with his longtime friend, Lande. That incident, Mitchell alleged, wasn’t reported until 10 months later.

Rivero, who was surprised to hear of the deputy association’s statement and the emergency meeting, said he stands by his assertions, including that fellow deputies have called him racial epithets including “wetback.”

One fellow deputy also allegedly called Rivero – whose family came to the United States from Cuba when he was a child – a “Cuban drug dealer.”

Rivero said he’s concerned that if deputies will say those things to one of their own, they’ll do worse things to the Hispanic community at large.

Both Rivero and Lande said a few deputies also were known to make anti-gay remarks.

Rivero and Lande said they’ve seen Hispanics called “Joses.” Rivero said he’s seen Mexicans handcuffed to a deputy’s patrol car. Lande said a deputy specifically instructed him to profile Hispanics.

In addition, Rivero contended that the association meeting was called incorrectly, but Frace said, based on the bylaws, the board can call an emergency meeting at any time.

A regular meeting of the general membership is scheduled for Tuesday, Frace said. It’s 65 members include deputies, first line supervisors at the rank of sergeant and investigators with the Lake County District Attorney’s Office.

Frace said deputies are starting to second-guess themselves on the streets because of the allegations and the publicity they’re generating. That second-guessing, he said, could impact deputies’ safety.

Deputy Michael Sobieraj, who has been with the department eight years – first as a correctional officer and more recently as a deputy – said he’s never seen the kinds of racism alleged in his time there.

Sobieraj said they had a few days’ notice that the report was coming out, and that it was upsetting to watch.

Adding to the situation is that Rivero is challenging Sheriff Rod Mitchell in next year’s election, as Lake County News reported in September. His run for sheriff is aimed at changing the atmosphere, Rivero said.

“My concern is people need to be treated fairly and without prejudice,” Rivero said. “We wield a lot of power here.”

Concerns raised about how complaints were made

Rivero accused Frace and the association of making the Monday statement as a way of hurting his campaign for sheriff, claiming that the association’s board is pro-Mitchell. He also accused Frace of trying to talk him out of running.

Frace, a deputy of four years and president of the association for the past year, said he has no issue with Rivero seeking the sheriff’s job, and that he didn’t try to talk Rivero out of anything.

“What we have a problem with is Frank continually runs us into the ground, in his actions and words,” said Frace.

Rivero said he thinks only a “handful” – or as many as half a dozen – of the department’s deputies are part of the problem. “I never said it was everyone,” he explained, adding he also didn’t say the issues were “rampant.”

Ringen estimated that as much as a third of the deputies are somehow involved in unfair treatment.

Another concern for the deputies association, said Frace, is that Rivero never brought his reports about racism and racial profiling to them. Neither did Lande, nor did Ringen, who preceded Frace as the association president, Frace said.

Rivero concurred that, “officially,” he didn’t take his concerns to the association. He said he did take the matter to the sheriff personally and, when he couldn’t get anywhere, he went to the county’s administration and the Board of Supervisors, which resulted in an investigation.

Mitchell countered that Rivero never came to him about the allegations, but went to the board on March 27, several weeks after he was passed over for promotion in a sergeant’s test.

Lande, who Mitchell said gave a resignation letter dated March 20 before leaving for another law enforcement agency, joined Rivero in that complaint to the board.

That complaint included allegations by Falloy, who Lande had invited on a ride-along around Memorial Day of 2008, Lande said.

They were at a sobriety checkpoint when Falloy allegedly witnessed a deputy slap a Hispanic man in the back of the head during an arrest. Lande said he didn’t personally see the incident.

Mitchell questioned why Lande waited 10 months to make that complaint. “When did Falloy tell Lande, when did Lande tell anyone else?” he asked.

Lande admitted that the sheriff is right – it was many months later before he made the report. That’s because he was afraid of retaliation.

Falloy “wanted to say something immediately,” but Lande said he asked him not to. “I was still on probation and afraid of losing my job,” and had already made an internal affairs complaint against another deputy for safety concerns, Lande said.

Because of making that complaint, Lande was told he would never make the SWAT team.

Lande said he feels guilty because he didn’t speak up sooner.

Ringen, who was aware of deputies targeting Hispanics, said he didn’t report it to senior officials because he claimed everyone knew it was going on.

Mitchell agreed that Ringen never reported racial profiling during his time with the agency. “That was never something he ever mentioned.”

He questioned when Ringen became aware of the issues leading to the race-based allegations he’s making and when he decided to report them. “Those are the key questions,” he said, noting peace officers have a duty to report crimes and civil rights violations in a timely manner.

This past April 15, Ringen – who just turned 57 – retired after nearly 27 years with the sheriff’s office.

At the time of his retirement Ringen said he had been on administrative leave for just over four months.

While he said he hadn’t previously reported racist remarks, he said he did take information about the race-based harassment against Rivero to the sheriff’s administration on Dec. 4, 2008.

Shortly after taking that action, Ringen said he was placed on leave with internal affairs investigations leveled against him accusing him of calling a fellow sergeant a name and not following a direct order.

“I wasn’t going to continue to go through the humiliation of what Mitchell was putting me through,” said Ringen, explaining that he decided to retire. “The hunt was on.”

During the summer, Ringen – who had considered running for sheriff – decided instead to endorse Rivero. “I believe that Frank is truly a better candidate and I think he has a lot more to give the citizens of Lake County.”

He said that shortly afterward he received a call from a friend who was a district attorney’s investigator, telling him he could no longer come into the office to visit. “I’ve been basically cut off from law enforcement in Lake County,” Ringen said.

Sheriff: Investigations have taken place

Rivero is one of two people in the sheriff’s office who have filed complaints with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as Lake County News has reported.

Everyone – including Rivero – is limited on what they can say about the EEOC investigation at this point, but Rivero stated in a previous interview with Lake County News that the issues involved lack of merit-based promotions at the sheriff’s office and mistreatment of minorities by certain deputies. He indicated that he’s willing to sign a waiver to have the information released to the public.

Both Ringen and Lande said they gave statements to the EEOC on Rivero’s behalf.

County Counsel Anita Grant told Lake County News on Monday that the report the county completed earlier this year on Rivero’s complaint was sent to the EEOC, which will decide at some point if further action is taken.

While she said the report may be disclosable at some point, it can’t be released publicly while the EEOC investigation is taking place, and she has no time estimate for completion based on the EEOC being “woefully understaffed.”

Rivero also complained to the US Department of Justice. A US Attorney’s Office spokesman could not be reached for comment late Monday. Rivero said he was told by an individual within the DOJ’s Civil Rights division that the matter was being looked into.

Mitchell said his department has a long history of responding to complaints and making sure they’re appropriately investigated.

He said he went to Rivero this past May 18 for information about his allegations, and initially was put off.

Mitchell said every issue brought to his attention was investigated, including charges that deputies were targeting Hispanics for selective enforcement at driving under the influence checkpoints. There were resolutions and the resulting discipline was appropriate, he said.

One investigation remains open, said Mitchell – that regarding what Falloy said he saw during the ride-along.

Since the television broadcast there are new allegations. Mitchell said his department is exploring claims that Ringen himself made inappropriate comments.

Since the allegations have gone public, Lande said he’s been receiving hateful e-mails making personal attacks on him. “I knew that might happen.”

Lande said all he had wanted was an investigation.

“My hope is just that this will stop, not that it’s going to turn into a shouting match,” said Lande.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .


Police speak out against racial profiling in Lake County, California

Mad props to fellow Anthropolitician Brian Lande (socdeputy to ya’ll) who, along with some former colleagues of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, spoke out on KGO-TV (that’s ABC channel 7, to y’all in the Bay Area) against the systematic racial profiling practices that have become part of the department’s habitus

You can see the full video after the break

Continue reading


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.

Blotter, DragNet

Policing and the Recession

In response to Kevin’s inquiry as to whether or not there was any reporting being done on the impact of the recession on policing, I have posted the following articles:

Budget cuts that are the result of the recession have lead to departments cutting training. The California Peace Officers Association (a bargaining collective) was receiving so many inquiries from departments about the consequences of cutting training that they put out the following memo (mjm-duty2train). has a whole section of its webpage dedicated to policing in an economic crisis:

including the following article:

From the AP on cutbacks in the prison population intended to save dollars:

An article from on the how competition between police departments, corrections, and parole affects incarceration:

From the Chicago Tribune on how the recession is leading to departments to cut positions, over time, and even how long officers run the engines of their cars: