Here is your weekly research brief with some of the latest research in the field of race and racism. Given the recent attention on police brutality as a form of racism, and the call among many activists for body cameras (or, OOVCs -“on officer video cameras”), I thought I would take use today’s research brief to share some of the relevant research. One special note about this research brief: below I include a report from “The Police Foundation” that strongly supports the use of OOVCs. This report has been reported on by the Guardian and the New York Times, but beyond that, I cannot vouch for it since I do not know who or what is beyond the foundation publishing it and it hasn’t been subjected to the usual peer review. That said, I thought people might be interested in reading the actual report since it is getting a good deal of attention.
Race, racism and policing:
- Bhattacharyya, Gargi S. Dangerous Brown Men: Exploiting Sex, Violence and Feminism in the ‘War on Terror’. Zed Books, 2008. Abstract: Why is the public presentation of the war on terror suffused with sexualised racism? What does this tell us about ideas of gender, sexuality, religious and political identity and the role of the state in the Western powers? Can we diffuse inter-ethnic conflicts and change the way the West pursues its security agenda by understanding the role of sexualised racism in the war on terror? In asking such questions, Gargi Bhattacharyya considers how the concepts of imperialism, feminism, terror and security can be applied, in order to build on the influential debates about the sexualised character of colonialism. She examines the way in which western imperial violence has been associated with the rhetoric of rights and democracy – a project of bombing for freedom that has called into question the validity of western conceptions of democracy, rights and feminism. Such rhetoric has given rise to actions that go beyond simply protecting western interests or securing access to scarce resources and appear to be beyond instrumental reason. The articulations of racism that appear with the war on terror are animated by fears and sexual fantasies inexplicable by rational interest alone. There can be no resolution to this seemingly endless conflict without understanding the highly sexualised racism that animates it. Such an understanding threatens to pierce the heart of imperial relations, revealing their intense contradictions and uncovering attempts to normalise violent expropriation.
- Brunson, Rod K., and Jody Miller. “Young Black Men and Urban Policing in the United States.” British journal of criminology 46, no. 4 (2006): 613-640. Abstract: People of colour living in disadvantaged urban communities have been shown to be the disproportionate recipients of both proactive policing strategies and various forms of police misconduct. As a consequence, a growing body of research has begun to examine the relationship between blacks’ experiences with the police and their perceptions of police legitimacy. While urban minority young men are primary recipients of proactive policing efforts, few studies have examined in depth their particular experiences with the police. Drawing from a broader qualitative study of violence in the lives of African-American youths from a distressed urban community, this paper examines 40 young men’s experiences with and perceptions of police harassment and misconduct. Our findings highlight young men’s sense of themselves as symbolic assailants in the eyes of the police, suggest the importance of measuring the impact of accumulated negative experiences to better understand minority/police relations, and add additional currency to recent findings on the significance of procedural justice. (locked)
- Cashmore, Ernest, and Eugene McLaughlin, eds. Out of Order?: Policing Black People. Routledge, 2013. Abstract: First published in 1991, this book evaluates and compares the problematic relationships that have sometimes existed between police and Afro-Caribbean people in Britain and in the United States of America. Contributors from both sides of the Atlantic assess conflicting claims from police and black communities, as to whether some police are racist or too brutal in their operations. Although this book was written in the early 90s, many of the issues discussed remain interesting and relevant to our society today. (locked)
- Rowe, Michael. Policing, Race and Racism. Taylor & Francis, 2004. Abstract: Over recent years race has become one of the most important issues faced by the police. This book seeks to analyse the context and background to these changes, to assess the impact of the Lawrence Inquiry and the MacPherson Report, and to trace the growing emphasis on policing as an ‘antiracist’ activity, proactively confronting racism in both crime and non-crime situations. Whilst this change has not been wholly or consistently applied, it does represent an important change in the discourse that surrounds police relations with the public since it changes the traditional role of the police as ‘neutral arbiters of the law’. This book shows why race has become the most significant issue facing the British police, and argues that the police response to race has led to a consideration of fundamental issues about the relation of the police to society as a whole and not just minority groups who might be most directly affected. (locked)
- Shalhoub‐Kevorkian, Nadera. “Racism, Militarisation and Policing: Police Reactions to Violence against Palestinian Women in Israel.” Social Identities 10, no. 2 (2004): 171-193. Abstract: This article moves beyond the discussion of police racism to a broader account of the militaristic racism of policing in Israel. The highly permeable boundaries between the military, society and the political conflict all affect how violence against women is policed. Focusing on case studies of police officers’ perceptions of abused Palestinian Israeli women — members of an ethnic and indigenous minority — this paper considers key features of the policing of violence against women in a militaristic context and during a continuous political conflict. Police officers’ philosophies and actions in law enforcement concerning violence against women are critically scrutinised. The findings indicate that while some aspects of cultural difference between the indigenous ethnic group and the majority are relevant to policing, focusing predominantly on the ‘cultural characteristics’ or ‘ethnic traditions or rituals’ of the policed population and denying the effect of the political conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as a factor in the militarisation of policing can reinforce rather than ameliorate ethnic prejudice, racism and discrimination. (locked)
Cameras and policing:
- Ariel, Barak and Tony Farrar. “Self-Awareness to Being Watched and Socially Desirable Behavior: A Field Experiment on the Effect of Body-Worn Cameras on Police Use-of-Force.” (Report of The Police Foundation, 2014) This randomized controlled trail represents the first experimental evaluation of body-worn video cameras used in police patrol practices. Cameras were deployed to all patrol officers in the Rialto (CA) Police Department. Every police patrol shift during the 12-month period was assigned to experimental or control conditions. Wearing cameras was associated with dramatic reductions in use-of-force and complaints against officers. The authors conclude: “The findings suggest more than a 50% reduction in the total number of incidents of use-of-force compared to control-conditions, and nearly ten times more citizens’ complaints in the 12-months prior to the experiment.” (OA)
- Goold, Benjamin J. “Public area surveillance and police work: the impact of CCTV on police behaviour and autonomy.” Surveillance & Society 1, no. 2 (2002): 191-203. Abstract: Drawing on a recent study of the impact of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras on policing practices in a large English police force, this paper considers whether the presence of surveillance cameras affects the working attitudes and behaviour of individual police officers. In particular, this paper asks whether CCTV makes the police more accountable or more cautious in the exercise of their discretion in public spaces. Although noting that in certain circumstances CCTV may inadvertently help to reduce incidences of police misconduct, this paper concludes by arguing that more needs to be done to prevent the police from interfering with the operation of CCTV and gaining unauthorised access to potentially incriminating video evidence. (OA)
- Harris, David A. “Picture This: Body Worn Video Devices (‘Head Cams’) as Tools for Ensuring Fourth Amendment Compliance by Police.” Texas Tech Law Review, Forthcoming (2010). Abstract: A new technology has emerged with the potential to increase police compliance with the law and to increase officers’ accountability for their conduct. Called “body worn video” (BWV) or “head cams,” these devices are smaller, lighter versions of the video and audio recording systems mounted on the dash boards of police cars. These systems are small enough that they consist of something the size and shape of a cellular telephone earpiece, and are worn by police officers the same way. Recordings are downloaded directly from the device into a central computer system for storage and indexing, which protects them from tampering and assures a defensible chain of custody. This article explores the good that BWV can do for both the police and members of the public, particularly how these recordings might play a role in assuring that officers comply with Fourth Amendment search and seizure rules. Field tests of BWV in Britain have shown that police used the devices to keep records and record evidence, and that the devices were a uniquely effective bulwark against false complaints. Coupled with a requirement that every citizen encounter involving a search or seizure be recorded, and a presumption that without a recording the factfinder must draw inferences in favor of the defendant, BWV can help resolve disputes over search and seizure activities, and give the public a heretofore unattainable degree of assurance that police officers enforcing the law obey it as they do so. While BWV is certainly no panacea, and presents significant issues of tampering and reliability, it can help bring accountability and rule following to an aspect of police behavior that has largely proven resistant to it. (OA)
- Young, Jacob TN, and Justin T. Ready. “Diffusion of Ideas and Technology: The Role of Networks in Influencing the Endorsement and Use of On-Officer Video Cameras.” Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice (2014): 1043986214553380. Abstract: On-officer videos, or body cameras, can provide objective accounts of interactions among police officers and the public. Police leadership tends to view this emerging technology as an avenue for resolving citizen complaints and prosecuting offenses where victims and witnesses are reluctant to testify. However, getting endorsement from patrol officers is difficult. These incongruent cognitive frames are a cultural barrier to the utilization of innovative technologies. Understanding the mechanisms that lead to the deconstruction of these barriers is essential for the integration of technology into organizations. Using affiliation data collected from a large police department in Southwestern United States over a 4-month period, we find that interactions with other officers provide a conduit for facilitating cognitive frames that increase camera legitimacy. (locked)
Happy reading! Let me know if you’d like your publication to appear in an upcoming Research Brief by using the ‘contact’ form.