Many thanks to NAASCA's Terri Lanahan, Butte, Montana,
for her research into the news that appears on
the LACP & NAASCA web sites.
How Britain tried to 'erase' India's third gender
by Soutik Biswas
Eunuchs in India
She lived in what was then the North-West Provinces with two disciples and a male lover, performing and accepting gifts at "auspicious occasions" like births of children and at weddings and in public. She had left her lover for another man before she was killed. British judges were convinced that her former lover had killed her in a fit of rage.
During the trial they described eunuchs as cross-dressers, beggars and unnatural prostitutes.
One judge said the community was an "opprobrium upon colonial rule". Another claimed that their existence was a "reproach" to the British government.
The reaction was strange considering that a eunuch was the victim of the crime. The killing, according to historian Jessica Hinchy, curiously triggered British "moral panic about eunuchs" or hijras as they are called in South Asia.
"She was a victim of the crime but her death was interpreted as evidence of criminality and immorality of the eunuchs," Dr Hinchy told me.
AFP The Hijra community of Mumbai in Andheri (surbub of Mumbai), Indian hijras, or eunuchs, adopted a feminine gender identity, women's clothing and other feminine gender roles on March 15, 2012.
Eunuchs describe themselves as being castrated or born that way
British officials began considering eunuchs "ungovernable". Commentators said they evoked images of "filth, disease, contagion and contamination". They were portrayed as people who were "addicted to sex with men". Colonial officials said they were not only a danger to "public morals", but also a "threat to colonial political authority".
For nearly a decade, Dr Hinchy, now assistant professor of history at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, trawled the colonial archives on eunuchs that provided unusually detailed insights into the impact of colonial laws on marginalised Indians. The result is Governing Gender and Sexuality in Colonial India, arguably the first in-depth history of eunuchs in colonial India.
Eunuchs often dress up like women and describe themselves as being castrated or born that way. A disciple-based community, it has important roles in many cultures - from sexless people guarding harems to singing and dancing entertainers.
In cultures in South Asia, they are thought to have the power to bless or curse fertility. They live with adopted children and male partners. Today, many consider eunuchs transgender, although the term also includes intersex people. In 2014, India's Supreme Court officially recognised a third gender - and eunuchs (or hijras) are seen as falling into this category.
Bhoorah was among the 2,500 recorded eunuchs who lived in the North-West Provinces - now India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Uttarakhand.
Years after her murder, the provinces launched a campaign to reduce the number of eunuchs with the objective of gradually causing their "extinction". They were considered a "criminal tribe" under a controversial 1871 law which targeted caste groups considered to be hereditary criminals.
The law armed the police with power of increased surveillance of the community. Police compiled registers of eunuchs with their personal details, often defining "an eunuch as a criminal and sexually deviant person". "Registration was a means of surveillance and also a way to ensure that castration was stamped out and the hijra population was not reproduced," says Dr Hinchy.
Eunuchs were not allowed to wear female clothing and jewellery or perform in public and were threatened with fines or thrown into prison if they did not comply. Police would even cut off their long hair and strip them if they wore female clothing and ornaments. They "experienced police intimidation and coercion, though the patterns of police violence are unclear", says Dr Hinchy.
The community reacted by petitioning for the right to dance and play in public, and perform at fairs. The petitions, says Dr Hinchy, point to the economic devastation caused by the ban on dances and performances. In the mid-1870s, the eunuchs of Ghazipur district complained that they were starving.
AFP An eunuch displays a placard during a silent protest in Bangalore, 23 June 2004.
Eunuchs have a visible presence in India
One of the most shocking moves of the authorities was to take away children who were living with eunuchs to "rescue them from a life of infamy". If eunuchs were living with a male child, they risked fines and jail.
Many of these children were actually disciples. Others appeared to have been orphans, adopted or enslaved as children. There were also children of musicians who performed with eunuchs and appeared to have lived alongside them with their families. Some eunuchs even lived with widows who had children. British officials saw the children as "agents of contagion and a source of moral danger".
"Colonial anxieties about the threat that hijras posed to Indian boys overstated the actual number of children residing with the community," says Dr Hinchy. According to records, there were between 90 and 100 male children found living with registered eunuchs between 1860 and 1880. Very few of them had been emasculated and most of them were living with their biological parents.
"The short-term aim of the law included cultural elimination of the eunuchs through erasure of their public presence. The explicit, long-term ambition was limiting, and thus finally extinguishing, the number of eunuchs," says Dr Hinchy. "To many high-ranking colonial officials, the small eunuch community endangered the imperial enterprise and colonial authority."
The British also began policing other groups which didn't fit the binary gender categories - effeminate men who wore female clothing, performed in public and lived in kin-based households, men who performed female roles in theatre and male devotees who dressed as women. "The law," says Dr Hinchy, "was used to police a diverse range of gender non-confirming people."
In many ways, the attitudes of the British and the English-speaking Indian elites to eunuchs echo aspects of Hindu faith that colonial rulers found abhorrent.
Indologist Wendy Doniger has written about the British rejection of the sensual strains of Hinduism as filthy paganism. However, religion was not a factor in the colonial rejection of eunuchs - it was more about "contamination", "filth", their sexual practices and public presence.
Yet, despite this dark history, eunuchs survived these attempts to eliminate them by evading the police, continuing to have a visible public presence and devising survival strategies. Dr Hinchy writes that they became skilful at law breaking, evading the police and keeping on the move. They also kept their cultural practices alive within their communities and in private places, which was not illegal. They also became adept at hiding property, so that police could not register it.
Their success is clear by the fact that despite being often defined as deviant and disorderly, Dr Hinchy says eunuchs "remain a visible presence in public space, public culture, activism and politics in South Asia".
In India, they continue to make a living by dancing at weddings and other ceremonies despite facing discrimination and living on the margins. Theirs is a stirring story of resilience and survival.
Community policing enhancing service delivery
LAHORE: Punjab Inspector General of Police Cap (retd) Arif Nawaz Khan has said that Punjab police is working to maintain law and order along with the speedy solution of the problems of public according to the principles of community policing which is also enhancing the service delivery and trust between public and police.
He expressed these views during a meeting with provincial ministers Nauman Ahmad Langrial and Sardar Asif Nakai. During the meeting law and order situation and issues of mutual interest were discussed.
The IG Punjab said SP complaints in all districts were working to resolve the public complaints with ensuring timely registration of FIR. He also informed the meeting about new projects and reforms in policing system. He said Punjab police has established Police Khidmat Marakaz in all districts where citizens are availing 14 different services about police under one roof.
Provincial ministers praised the security arrangements during Ramazan and said due to the effective actions by Punjab police the incidents of terrorism had declined significantly where as research on 8,787 IGP complaint cell and Khidmat Marakaz by renowned educational institutes was evidence of its success.
They said Punjab police was equal to developed forces of the world in terms of IT usage and the IT projects of Punjab police were worth adoption and replication by police forces of other provinces.
Jair Bolsonaro will not defeat crime in Brazil by tolerating militias
Like Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, he thinks more violence is the answer
Jair bolsonaro, Brazil's president, was elected last year on a promise to rid his country of a trio of plagues: economic stagnation, corruption and sickening violence. For residents of Rio de Janeiro, the last of these is most urgent. The number of murders in Rio state reached 40 per 100,000 in 2017, 14 times the rate in New York state. The government felt compelled to send in the army, temporarily, to quell the mayhem. Much of the city and its favelas are controlled by organised criminals, who are difficult to prosecute because residents are terrified to testify against them. Mr Bolsonaro is well aware of this. He was a seven-term federal congressman for the state of Rio de Janeiro and has deep personal ties to the city. Yet his prescription for fighting crime in Rio and places like it is clueless (see article).
Instead of bolstering the institutions of law and order so that they can restore calm and prosecute gang bosses, Mr Bolsonaro thinks the way to tackle violence is with more violence. He has allowed more Brazilians to own and carry guns, encouraging them to confront criminals themselves. He also wants to make it harder to punish police officers who kill suspects. Under one proposal, a judge could suspend a cop's sentence for homicide if he acted out of “excusable fear, surprise or intense emotion”. Yet how many cops do not experience “intense emotion” just before shooting someone? Unsurprisingly, the number of shootings by police has soared. In the first four months of this year, officers in Rio state shot dead nearly five people a day. That is more than all the police in the United States typically kill, while policing a population 19 times larger.
Australia's north needs a reserve police force
by John Coyne
Each of Australia's border security domains presents unique threats and operating challenges. Whether searching for illicit drugs in Sydney's mail centre, processing passenger arrivals at Melbourne's international airport or inspecting shipping containers in Fremantle, the job is difficult. For the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Border Force, the law enforcement challenge in Australia's north is all about the tyranny of distance.
Since 2016, the ABF, through its Maritime Border Command, has created a ‘ring of steel' around Australia's northern waters. Primarily focused on blocking people smugglers, the command's officers, supported by military and civil maritime-surveillance capabilities, have made a substantial contribution to thwarting other maritime crimes like illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. But they haven't stopped all crime.
As Australia's maritime domain awareness and response capabilities have improved, the onshore and nearshore eyes, ears and muscle in Australia's north have been wasting away.
Over the past century, Australians living in the north have played critical civil defence roles through coastwatch programs (see here and here), community reporting networks and membership in regional force surveillance units.
In 1988, Headquarters Northern Command (HQ NORCOM) assumed responsibility for planning, practising and conducting surveillance, reconnaissance, protection and civil support operations from north of 19° south in Queensland, the Northern Territory, and the Kimberley and Pilbara districts of Western Australia. For more than two decades, NORCOM played a central role in coordinating support for whole-of-government efforts to prevent illegal activities relating to fisheries, immigration and customs. Today, it performs a much more administrative role.
Over the past decade, regional surveillance capabilities provided by the North-West Mobile Force, the 51st Battalion Far North Queensland Regiment and the Pilbara Regiment have degraded, which has been reflected in their much-reduced availability to support ABF operational activities.
Both the AFP and the ABF have modest offices in Cairns and Darwin. While their officers are highly trained, there aren't many and yet they are responsible for some of the world's largest law enforcement operating areas.
Northern Australia's vastness creates three problems for ABF and AFP decision-makers. First, they need eyes and ears in communities spread across Western Australian, the Northern Territory and Queensland. These eyes and ears need to include citizens who are ready and willing to report unusual behaviour. And they need a mechanism for reporting their observations.
Second, both organisations need an enhanced capability in northern Australia to undertake covert surveillance of suspicious activity on and near the coast.
Finally, both the AFP and ABF need to be able to rapidly scale up the deployment of officers to respond to criminal activity in some of Australia's most remote locations.
An obvious answer to these problems could be reinvesting in regional force surveillance units and their community reporting networks. However, the Department of Home Affairs, and more specifically the ABF, have already been heavily criticised for ‘militarising' Australia's borders over recent years. The prospect of having soldiers sworn in as special constables to perform community policing or law enforcement operations in Australia's north is unlikely to draw much public support.
A far more attractive option is for the ABF and AFP to develop an auxiliary force or police reserve in Australia's north.
Since 1992, the NT government has operated a police auxiliary scheme to fill communication and frontline support roles in its police force. While not without training, these auxiliary police perform roles that are unable to be undertaken by public servants but don't require a fully qualified police officer. A Commonwealth scheme could build on these successes, by expanding the scope of work of auxiliary police officers.
Such a capability could also draw inspiration from the Indigenous ranger programs funded by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The Indigenous ranger scheme was established in 2007 through the federal environment department's Working on Country program. Today it supports Indigenous people in combining traditional knowledge with conservation training to protect and manage their land, sea and culture. In addition to its environmental, biosecurity and heritage benefits, the program has created more than 2,200 jobs.
A combined ABF and AFP part-time auxiliary force, composed of small detachments across Australia's north, could be used to establish a civil reporting network. This network could then provide a mechanism for reporting suspicious behaviour to state and territory police forces as well as the ABF and AFP in Darwin.
Under certain conditions, and with appropriate training, the auxiliary force could also be tasked to undertake surveillance patrols or specific covert surveillance operations. With higher levels of training, auxiliary officers could directly support law enforcement operations, or perhaps even act as a rapid first-response capability. Just as importantly, such a program would generate a wide range of community advantages, including job opportunities in areas with high levels of unemployment.
Police auxiliary programs have been operating in Canada since 1960. These programs are used, with great success, to supplement police forces with additional staffing, especially in isolated communities in the Arctic Circle.
There is more at stake here than the establishment of a new capability. There's a broader opportunity for Home Affairs to further define the north's role in Australian security. Through better whole-of-government coordination, improvements can be made in basing, logistics, domain awareness, and command-and-control structures. There's also an opportunity for Home Affairs and its portfolio agencies to generate social and economic benefits for communities right across the north of Australia.
A Scorecard for Police Departments
Here's a new way to help people evaluate the performance of the law-enforcement agencies that patrol their communities.
by CONOR FRIEDERSDORF
As the Black Lives Matter movement rose to national prominence in 2015, a small group associated with the push to end unnecessary police killings suggested 10 specific reforms that every police agency ought to adopt, hoping to inspire informed, constructive activism in communities across the country.
On Wednesday, Campaign Zero launched a new initiative grounded in a similar premise—that changing outcomes in a country with 18,000 law-enforcement agencies requires local reform efforts “in every jurisdiction,” and that people everywhere therefore need enough information “to effectively evaluate each law enforcement agency and hold them accountable to measurable results.”
But how to achieve that?
Campaign Zero's provisional answer is Police Scorecard, a new site that assigns grades to 100 large police departments in California. The organization chose that state because it collects and publishes more data on police agencies than most others.
Perhaps most striking in the statewide analysis: “Overall, half of people killed or seriously injured by police (49%) were unarmed.” And the deadliest locales:
Police in San Bernardino, Riverside, Stockton, Long Beach, Fremont and Bakersfield used deadly force at substantially higher rates than other major cities in California. San Jose and Los Angeles police used deadly force at 3x the rate of police in San Francisco and San Diego. And Oakland police had one of the lowest rates of deadly force, reflecting the substantial decline in use of force incidents that has followed DOJ mandated reforms to their use of force policies.
Carlsbad, a sleepy seaside municipality in North San Diego County, enjoyed the best-performing police department among those graded, while ultra-wealthy Beverly Hills performed the worst, according to analysis of data from 2016 and 2017.
In Oakland, 12,142 arrests were made in 2016.
Over two years, San Francisco had 778 civilian complaints of police misconduct. But just one in 13 was decided in favor of the civilian.
Costa Mesa, the municipality of 114,000 where I grew up, got a D+, even though it was one of only 15 police agencies included in the study that did not use deadly force in the period under consideration, in part because “police made 10.6x as many arrests for low level offenses as for violent crimes in 2016.”
Los Angeles got an F. In 2016 and 2017, there were reportedly 131 deadly force incidents, only one in every 24 complaints resulted in rulings favoring civilians, and police made 5.4x as many arrests for low-level offenses as for violent crimes.
At this early date, read Police Scorecard with caution.
As with efforts to evaluate colleges and rank them from top to bottom, the metrics are inevitably imperfect, and the outcomes are contestable. Police Scorecard omits some major policing agencies that contract with municipalities, like the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and its 9,400 deputies.
It is nevertheless a useful and constructive effort––as a blueprint for what could be built in other states, a resource for Californians wanting to learn more about local policing, and a launchpad for discussion among activists, wonks, journalists, elected officials, and others who can help refine its methodology.
If you live outside of California, urge your state to create something like the California Department of Justice's OpenJustice database. When data are available, projects like this one can follow. If you have a specific suggestion for improvement, email me.
Three Lessons From America's Legacy Cities
In the previous century, America's legacy cities experienced massive population growth, becoming centers of innovation known around the world. This status was then followed by rapid population decline, as a result of a shifting global economy. But even as many American communities struggled to adjust to the changing economic winds, many remain and have become centers of innovation and growth.
Perhaps no city has exemplified this better than the city of Pittsburgh. Last week, the National League of Cities (NLC) brought local leaders, including Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, from America's legacy cities and thought partners from the private and foundation sectors together to share stories of success and work through common challenges.
As Peduto shared in a presentation to the group, Pittsburgh has established a bold vision for the city, building on recent success and a wealth of community assets, while directly confronting the complex challenges that we all continue to face. But Pittsburgh isn't the only community with a comeback story to share. These three core lessons we learned over our few days together in Denver can be applied to all American communities.
Commit Time, Treasure and Talent to People and Places
For legacy cities to thrive, says Lansing, Michigan Mayor Andy Schor, the philanthropic and private sectors need to commit time, treasure and talent. On time and talent: local industries can support by donating their expertise and the time it takes to complete a project. Treasure is funding. Resources and investment are crucial to realizing your community's vision, but for places with limited budget, they can be hard to come by. Treasure can come from local businesses who see a future in your community.
Legacy cities are full of residents who have lived, worked and raised families as their community rose and fell. Their collective insight reveals an honest appraisal of the policies and practices that worked and ones that did more harm than good. When starting tough civic dialogues, such as tackling infant mortality or planning new economic development, start with residents and their stories.
Find Your Space Among Global Competition
During the massive economic growth of the last century, especially post World War II, many legacy cities prioritized building around just one industry. In today's global economy, that strategy has proven defunct. Instead, to compete in global and regional markets, legacy cities must become nimble.
Hartford, Connecticut is doing exactly that. The city is working to build an innovation ecosystem that is globally competitive as an insurance and manufacturing hub. Hartford took steps to realize this vision by gathering its legacy insurance companies to pool resources into a venture capital fund. This money will be used to bring in and learn from global competitors in the industry.
The city has also created a start-up seed fund to help manufacturers advance 21stcentury production. Lastly, Hartford is working to create a strong medical technology pipeline with neighboring universities like Yale, where students solving complex problems can test their products on a smaller market—while building a family and a future in Hartford. Scale and stay are Hartford's model.
You are a Member of Your Community
While leading the people of a legacy city, it is important for an elected official to show true vision and commitment. It is one thing to be a leader in name only, but communities are looking for a leader to be bold, try new things and embody the spirit of what legacy cities need.
Mayor Schor was the first mayor in 30 years to place his children into the Lansing Public School system. By doing so, the mayor showed his residents that he believed in his community. In addition, the city of Lansing was one of the first in the nation to pilot community policing, which can be a complicated and controversial policy. Public education and community policing can both be challenging issues to tackle, and Mayor Schor's dedication to and involvement in his community helped ease transitions and build support for his policies.
Councilmember John Kinnaird from Waco, Texas added that a shift in mentality has helped his Council feel more empowered. Elected officials, he said, went from saying “there is nothing we can do” to “let's see what we can do”.
Our communities have always been a place to reimagine, reinvent and inspire for the next generation. Just ask the current legacy residents: they are ready to do whatever it takes to solve their communities' problems.
Developing a ‘3C' Security Strategy for Sri Lankan
As Sri Lanka continues to make sense of the horrific Easter Sunday terror attacks, questions regarding the intelligence and state capacity issues that lead to this catastrophic event are being raised. It is now broadly accepted—including by the Sri Lankan government—that capacity and coordination gaps lead to the failure to act on the intelligence that was provided by various domestic and international agencies. While a proper review of the mechanisms that lead to this failure must be conducted, it is critical to examine ways in which Sri Lanka can prepare itself against future attacks.
Since the Easter Sunday attacks, the Sri Lankan military and the police have done a commendable job of preventing further attacks, and have apprehended several terror suspects. While the technique of apprehending suspects using a snowball method initially proved to be a success, the apprehension rate seems to have slowed somewhat. To achieve lasting peace and prevent future attacks of terror, a long-term, comprehensive security and intelligence framework is essential. To aid this long-term goal, Sri Lanka could look at a 3C (Capacity, Coordination, and Communication) strategy to develop a more robust counterterrorism framework. A practical ‘3C' security strategy could entail the improvement of the following four avenues to help revitalise the security architecture in Sri Lanka;
(1) widening international cooperation on global terror networks,
(2) community focused counter-terror policing,
(3) establishing a behavioural analysis unit, and
(4) maintaining Effective Command, Control and Communication.
(1) Widening International Cooperation on Global Terror Networks
The transnational—rather than the international—nature of modern Islamist-inspired terrorism means that disrupting terrorist networks has become more complicated. However, Sri Lanka should seek greater cooperation with and engage in greater intelligence sharing networks tracking global hotspots that provide terror financing, training and ideological support. This requires a multi-pronged effort that includes diplomatic, military, and political engagement with a wide variety of actors and agencies.
The age of compartmentalising security issues to specific government agencies and ministries is obsolete. In this respect, the department of immigration and emigration need to be reformed to strengthen Sri Lanka's border security needs. This can be done by utilising emerging technologies such as facial recognition, and increased international cooperation to access Interpol's terror and criminal no-fly list databases. In addition, significant capacity-building with international support to train airport security and border management officials is necessary.
The challenge in introducing such initiatives would be the harmonising of Sri Lanka's security needs with its economic interests, such as safeguarding the tourism sector. At Birmingham Airport in the UK, there is an emphasis on training of, not only regular border guard officials, but also clerks working in the commercial sphere such as vehicle rental agencies, to spot suspicious behaviour. This is done in manner so as to not inconvenience tourists and travellers. Furthermore, in order to decrease the levels of intrusion and passenger discomfort, plain-clothed police officers and technology could be utilised to increase security in a non-disruptive manner.
(2) “Community focused” versus “Community targeted” Counter-terror Policing
Instituting a credible security architecture that does not violate individual freedoms and civil liberties will continue to be a challenge for all democratic governments across the world. Therefore, it is vital that government measures taken to eradicate violent extremism are done in a manner that is efficient, targeted, and supported by evidenced-based policy making—as opposed to ad-hoc activities. In light of how the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ)—the group behind the Easter Sunday Attack—was able to blend in their religious community, there have been calls to monitor communities, their places of worship, and religious schools in the future. Monitoring extremist ideology requires a sophisticated level of community policing, but it is important to draw a distinction between community-targeted policing versus community-focused policing.
The key difference between the two concepts is the partnering of the community in focus with law enforcement. Community-focused policing could lead to a greater amount of information sharing and establish a positive relationship between the community and law enforcement. This approach would be particularly useful when implementing surveillance programmes. Frequent consultations with community leaders, in addition to understanding the complicated histories that pertain to ethnic, socio-economic, and political history, could arguably reap greater rewards than through the use of community-targeted policing.
Community-targeted policing that eschews trust, consent and confidence, on the other hand, may exacerbate the situation, and any potential grievances could be exploited by individuals that harbour extremist ideologies. Studies conducted in Australia, and the United Kingdom indicate that community-focused policing methods that are embedded with a strong sense of procedural justice (an emphasis on neutrality, fairness, and respect) stand a higher chance of Muslim communities' willingness to cooperate with police on counter-terror activities.
An example of a successful community-focused counter-terror policing initiative is the ‘Strategy to Reach, Empower and Educate Teenagers (STREET)' in the UK. Launched in 2006, it aims to reach youth particularly, those who are at risk of involvement in anti-social behaviour such as gang violence, or violent extremism. While the organisation works closely with different government agencies including law enforcement, STREET is administered by Muslims, thus increasing its legitimacy as a neutral and trustworthy organisation. Further evidence that community focused initiatives such as STREET work is attested by the number of individuals that reach out to STREET's mentors and counsellors through self-referrals, apart from police and social services.
After the end of the conflict with the LTTE in 2009, Sri Lanka's deradicalisation efforts had a narrow focus aimed at rehabilitating ex-LTTE youth cadres. However, Sri Lanka lacked a strategy to effectively counter radicalisation borne out of global violent extremist ideologies and movements such as ISIS. Therefore, it is vital that Sri Lanka looks to implement prevention programmes in partnership with community members and organisations of good standing to curb radicalisation, particularly among youth.
(3) Establishing a Behavioural Analysis Unit
The Easter Sunday Terror attack showed that, when it comes to Islamist inspired terrorism, potential terror suspects can come from a wide variety of socio-economic backgrounds. In contrast to the leftist insurrections that occurred in Sri Lanka in the 1970s and the 1980s, several suspects of the April attacks were financially secure and well-educated. These revelations made it difficult for people to understand the factors that lead to radicalisation, and why such risk factors were not readily identified. It also makes it harder to predict the make-up of a potential terrorist, as non-state violent extremists continue to evolve their behaviour and activities to avoid the detection of conventional law enforcement agencies. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Behavioural Analysis Unit could be a model that the Sri Lankan government looks to adapt and seek assistance from in training and developing capable home-grown behavioural analysts.
The Sri Lankan government could look into developing an advanced behavioural unit that employs not only the service of military officials, but psychologists and other academics as well, to help determine the psychological make-up of violent deviant behaviour to forecast early warning signs of radicalisation. Instituting a competent behavioural analysis unit will also require analysts who are proficient in the Tamil language and familiar with Islamic teachings and the modern currents of religious sectarianism.
Developing this capacity is not only beneficial when surveying future threat perceptions, but it could also help build confidence between the state and moderate leaders within religious and cultural groups. The unit's analysis could also be augmented through greater availability of technology to analyse the data and achieve better results within the intelligence cycle. To ensure the success of such an initiative, Sri Lanka should look to attract the most competent individuals and adequately reward such professionals to build a culture of deep expertise and professionalism.
(4) Maintaining Effective Command, Control and Communication
The Easter Sunday attacks demonstrated that even a country like Sri Lanka with decades of successful counter terror experience can be vulnerable to such an attack. To manage and prepare adequate responses in a similar scenario requires careful coordination and collaboration between high level key decision makers and those responsible at the ground level across the political and security nexus. During an incident, it is imperative that all state military and civilian agencies are able to operate under a unified command structure to maintain stability and increase the response effectiveness during a crisis. As with other principal forums on national security such as the White House National Security Council (NSC) in the US, or the National Security Committee in Australia, Sri Lanka's apex body on all matters pertaining to national security, the National Security Council (NSC), needs to function with the participation and inclusion of all key decision makers, as mandated in Sri Lanka's constitutional.
The need for cooperation between and inclusivity of the President and the Prime Minister, and regular attendance of other statutory attendees' of NSC meetings was also echoed in a recent Sri Lankan Parliamentary Select Committee's declaration (Diywanna Declaration) which proposed a ten-point plan to achieve lasting peace and security. Although this particular declaration is not legally binding, the declaration can be seen as a positive normative stance on how to improve effective command and control at the highest level of political decision making.
In addition to an effective command and control structure, there is a need for a cohesive framework at the operational level to manage and resolve potential crises. In the US, this framework is known as an Incident Command System (ICS). Implementing a similar contingency ICS framework in Sri Lanka can help keep the public informed at all times to reduce panic and mitigate social unrest at a time of a national crisis, while delivering all essential security and humanitarian needs. Other examples include the ICS framework proposed in Australia known as ICCS plus (Incident Command and Control System), which is particularly focused on improving the inter-operability functions of national and state police services. These models should be reviewed, and a localised framework could be introduced in Sri Lanka.
To ensure such a system is kept up-to-date with the evolving security needs of a country, it is vital that joint training is conducted to ensure the goals of close coordination are met during an actual incident. Any ICS framework naturally needs to be linked and harmonised with the decision-making process of the NSC. The main benefit of having an effective ICS in Sri Lanka would be that, once key decisions are made at the NSC in a timely and efficient manner, it would enable the various command levels in both law enforcement, the military, and other civilian agencies to execute all necessary plans, while minimising uncertainty on issues such as jurisdiction and agency role in times of a national emergency.
In an age where even a vehicle can be weaponised to stage acts of terror, it is difficult for any government to guarantee that acts of terrorism can be prevented. Despite the existence of the most sophisticated and vigilant security expertise, terrorists only need one opportunity to create the kind of horror Sri Lanka experienced during the Easter Sunday attacks. Therefore, more needs to be done in developing countries like Sri Lanka to prevent future attacks and build capacity. To this end, it would be prudent to further explore the 3C Security Strategy through more research and dialogue, with the aim of implementing a more effective, robust counter terrorism framework.
Community policing: Right of response
Dear Ben Okezie,
I read your thought-provoking security column of last week on community policing. My view is that the community policing initiative actually came about because of our “copy-copy” mentality in Africa.
The Black man does not engage in rational thinking. Community policing is well established and functioning well in the countries you mentioned in your write-up, but cannot take root in Nigeria for now, reason being that Nigeria is a federation with a unitary mode of administration. What do I mean?
In a federal arrangement, power is decentralised and the semi-autonomous regions or zones are made stronger than the centre.
In Nigeria, the reverse is the case. Much has been written on this issue and papers presented at conferences and seminars. If you visit a state like Anambra, you will notice that the Commissioner of Police could come from Kano, the Deputy Commissioner of police could be from Kwara State, while the divisional police officers (DPOs) are from states other than Anambra. How do you operate community policing in that kind of environment?
The scramble and desire to be posted to Anambra and indeed many (rewarding) state commands in the South East and South South is heightened by the clamour to exploit the resources of the toiling and hardworking people of the zones.
The word “Community” is derived from the Latin word, which means “commune.”
People in a commune know and interact with other members in a friendly and civil manner. I was once on a police training programme in England, where I met a Constable around the Surrey area who worked all alone covering an entire community. I asked him what his secret was. He said he was part and parcel of that community and knew everyone by their first names. Usually on a bike, occasionally calling at the homes of this elderly Ms. Jones or Mr. Evanson for tea, he endeared himself to the people. In return, he won their loyalty.
In Nigeria, on our highways, especially in the South East, as you approach a police point, you see policemen hanging their rifles across their shoulders while wielding clubs with which they smash windscreens, if the need be. They can afford to break windscreens, beat up innocent people and extort money from law-abiding citizens because they have no stake whatsoever in the community. Such a policeman only came to occupy the land, milk it for himself and his masters and move on. To him, community policing is rubbish. That is where we are.
In Nigeria, community policing cannot work, until the police force is decentralised and indigenes take up the enterprise of policing themselves. How can you send a man from Kankara in Katsina to Obegu in Abia State for police work? He can't just fit in.
The entire Nigerian system needs to be overhauled for you to even start thinking of the community policing thing.
For those clamouring for community policing, they should consider that the seeming intractable killings by herdsmen in Nigeria can be addressed within six months by a master stroke of amending the law on policing immediately. As politicians would say, it is doable, if only they can muster the will and burning desire to save the lives of poor peasant farmers struggling to eke out a living from overused farmlands all over the Middle Belt and the South.
A lot of our countrymen are pained and disturbed by the butchery of innocent citizens nearly on a daily basis. The rest of the world is hardly perturbed by what is happening as black lives hardly matter to white supremacists. If a tenth of what is going on here was happening in Asia, the Middle East or South America, one is sure that the UN Security Council would have met by now to discuss it. That is not to be because Black Africa is concerned. African leaders, by their body language, give the impression that the life of their fellow countrymen is worth next to nothing, hence, the contempt in which they held by the rest of the civilised world.
Imagine a Western leader calling African countries shitholes, whatever that means.
This is the time for us to be sincere or even try to appear so to solve problems created by us. How can hordes of murdering bestial gangs move about freely in communities, hacking people to death with glee and yet no viable solution has been brought to play in order to stem the bloodletting going on? Is it that some people are enjoying the killings and do not want them to stop?
It is madness, to say the least, that this kind of thing should be happening in the 21st Century of innovative scientific and technological revolution. So, what do I have in mind? It is as simply suggested by the heading if this article. It is the introduction of State Police.
Nigeria is about the only country that claims to run a federal system of government and at the same time has a national police force. Let us assume for the purposes of argument that there are 250,000 police officers serving in the Nigeria Police, covering the 774 local governments in Nigeria. How effective or efficient is this coverage? Police have become the butt of many jokes in Nigeria. This may not necessarily be their own making but because of the environment they have to contend with coupled with the unwieldy nature of its command and control; 12 zonal commands and 37 state commands (with the FCT Abuja treated as a state command). States that have 20 to 30 local governments may have up to 30 to 50 police divisions commanded by DPOs. There are minor out-stations and village police posts also under the police divisions.
If an order is issued in Abuja by the Police High Command, it is always assumed that the zonal AIGs and CPs disseminate these directives to the DPOs, who in turn pass this order to all officers and men, down to the village police post. This may not always be the case.Some of the members of the rank and file do not know the name of their Commissioner of Police. Some don't even know their DPO's name. There is general confusion in the top-to-bottom channel of communication. The process of feedback in bottom-up route is mainly flawed, introducing a clog in the smooth performance of the police system. No serving officer would like to stick his neck out to complain about the pervasive inefficiency in the system for fear of a backlash by the powers that be.
The Nigeria Police should be disbanded as a national force and in its place a new law should come into immediate effect for the establishment of State Police. Each state must have it's autonomous police service dedicated to the service of its citizens. A special crime squad patterned after the American FBI should be established for the investigation of federal crimes like organised criminal activities, drugs, currency and inter-state crimes. The details can be worked out and fine-tuned to meet our local circumstances.
Policing should be local. Locals must police locals. Strangers with different cultures and worldview cannot police locals of a different orientation and disposition. As soon as state police is in place, all that the wanton killings by marauding herdsmen would have died a natural death. We cannot be unmindful of allegations of collusion between security personnel and some unscrupulous criminals even as we write. This is possible because non-indigenous officers who have no stake in the development of an “alien state” don't give a hoot if tens or hundreds of poor villagers are slaughtered, including women and children.
It is only vipers and myopic local colonisers who will not see anything good in ensuring that equity and justice is enthroned for a stable and progressive polity. The masterstroke to stop the incessant killing of poor peasants by criminals trained by the late Gaddafi, as alleged, and some other foreigners from neighbouring countries. The Empire builders who want to expand their territories from the desert of Libya, Niger and Chad to the lush green vegetation of the South to the coast must be stopped.
We believe that the National Assembly can turn things around and help to stop the blood guilt that is hanging over the heads of many who by their actions or inactions made it possible for the carnage to get worse by the day. State police is the answer.
San Francisco is first US city to ban police use of facial recognition tech
Supervisors vote eight to one to restrict surveillance: ‘We can have security without being a security state
San Francisco supervisors have voted to make the city the first in the United States to ban police and other government agencies from using facial recognition technology.
Supervisors voted eight to one in favor of the “Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance”, which will also strengthen existing oversight measures and will require city agencies to disclose current inventories of surveillance technology.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who championed the legislation, said: “This is really about saying: ‘We can have security without being a security state. We can have good policing without being a police state.' And part of that is building trust with the community based on good community information, not on Big Brother technology.”
Two supervisors were absent for Tuesday's vote. The board of supervisors is expected to vote on the new rules a second time next week, when they are expected to pass again.
Critics argued that police need all the help they can get, especially in a city with high rates of property crime. That people expect privacy in public space is unreasonable given the proliferation of cellphones and surveillance cameras, said Meredith Serra, a member of a resident public safety group Stop Crime SF.
San Francisco could ban government agencies from using facial recognition technology
But those who support the ban say facial recognition technology is flawed and a serious threat to civil liberties.
Matt Cagle, a technology and civil liberties attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, said the legislation was a positive step towards slowing the rise of technologies that may infringe on the rights of people of color and immigrants. “Face surveillance won't make us safer, but it will make us less free,” Cagle told the Guardian after the proposal passed a committee vote last week.
The ordinance applies to a wider range of technology, including automated license plate reading and gunshot-detection tools. It also expands a 2018 law requiring the San Francisco public transportation system Bart to outline how it surveils passengers.
Speaking to the Guardian last week, Peskin said the new regulations were designed to address concerns about the accuracy of technology and put a stop to creeping surveillance culture.
He said: “We are all for good community policing but we don't want to live in a police state. At the end of the day it's not just about a flawed technology. It's about the invasive surveillance of the public commons.
Police chief warns criminals to stay away from Kano
by Abdulrasheed Bello
The newly posted Kano state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ahmed Illiyasu, on Friday declared that there is no hiding place for criminals in the as his officers and men are battle-ready to flush them out of the ancient commercial city.
In his maiden Press briefing in his office, the police boss said he is prepared to fight against all forms of violent crimes, drug abuse, kidnapping, banditry and the menace of street urchins.
“We will not accept any form of crime and criminality. As such, we sounding a note of warning to those who are nursing the idea of perpetrating any form of criminal activities to vacate Kano and move elsewhere, because I am telling them that there is no vacancy for criminals in Kano,” he stated.
According to him, “we will not fail the people and government of Kano state in our quest to make Kano safe for living and business transactions. You all are aware that Kano has a great history dating back to over 200 years. All we need is to continue to plan towards sustaining peace and order in this great state called Kano.”
He also pledged to use the policy of community policing, using traditional rulers, religious leaders, opinion leaders and other relevant stakeholders to combat crime.
CP Illyasu charged parents to imbibe the spirit of discipline and attitudinal change on their children, pointing out that there should be social re-orientation so as to help the youths abstain from crime and desist from drug abuse.
He added that, “our intention is to see that we protect the lives and property of citizens with respect to the Rule of Law. As such, we will not allow any infraction on the part of our officers and men.
“We will ensure that our men change their attitude for good in terms of policing the people. Our officers must be disciplined and they must not abuse the fundamental human rights of the people.”
According to him, “I will use the needed technological tools to ensure adequate policing of Kano state. Our men will engage in continuous training and re-training so that they will be in touch with the world best practices of policing.”
He, however, appealed for the full support of the media, describing them as very important component of crime-fighting, “I have always maintained cordial relationship with journalists and I want to say that without synergy between journalists and security agencies, crime-fighting will become a difficult task.”
New ACPD program brings back old-fashioned neighborhood policing
by Lynda Cohen
Albert Herbert remembers knowing the police officers who lived around him when he was growing up in Atlantic City.
“Because there were guys in the neighborhood doing the job, friendly, it kind of broke down the barriers,” he recalled Tuesday as he stood in Chelsea Heights, where he still lives and now patrols.
The Atlantic City police officer is one of 16 assigned to the new Neighborhood Coordination Officer Program, which has assigned two officers to each of the city's six wards along with four who will work homeless outreach.
Herbert and his partner, Jerard Ingenito, have a strong connection to their new beat.
Both men own homes in the neighborhood. Herbert grew up here. Ingenito has been here since 1999.
As they went on their inaugural rounds Tuesday, it didn't take long to bump into those they knew, including the officers who influenced them.
“What they did is they changed the perception,” Ingenito said as he stood next to Detective Joe Corson and retired Patrolman Connie Hackney.
“Every day you would see them coming around and they would stop and, ‘How's your mom? I heard she was sick,'” Ingenito continued. “And that's the kind of thing this program is trying to bring back. It's trying to bring back. That we need officers on the street, getting to know the residents.”
This is the first of what will be an expanded program, Police Chief Henry White promised as the officers were officially introduced in City Council chambers.
“What we're seeing here is exactly what's supposed to happen when everyone is working together,” White said, surrounded by officials including Mayor Frank Gilliam and Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner.
Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver was supposed to be an the announcement but was sick Tuesday.
“No one is more excited than I am,” said Lt. Will Santiago, who is leading the officers.
“As a young child walking the streets of Atlantic City, I was approached by police officers walking the beat, they instilled in me why I really wanted to become a police officer,” he recalled.
Residents will have these officers' cell phone numbers and be able to reach out to them whenever they need.
At least two of the officers speak Spanish. Officer Syed Shah, who is in Ward 5, speaks Punjabi, Urdu and Pashto.
Police designate service areas to respond to quality of life issues
The Claremont Police Department now has four service areas with a specific lieutenant assigned to each area to address specific concerns residents may have in their neighborhoods.
“The Claremont Police Department strives to provide excellent customer service to the citizens we serve,” the department shared in a press release. “In addition to responding to calls for service and crime prevention, we strive to develop permanent solutions to problems that impact the quality of life in neighborhoods.”
Service area policing allows residents to directly contact the lieutenant assigned to their area for non-emergency, quality of life issues. If a residents is experiencing long-term problems in their neighborhood, the assigned service area lieutenant can work with the neighbors to remedy the issue.
This citizen-friendly approach provides increased police accountability to citizens, more personalized service to residents and business owners, increased citizen satisfaction and communication and improved response to neighborhood quality of life issues.
If you are encountering an issue in your neighborhood, whether you are a resident or business owner, do not hesitate to contact the service area lieutenant assigned to your area for non-emergency problems that do not need an immediate response from the police. For emergencies, residents should call 9-1-1.
The city is portioned into four quadrants at Indian Hill Boulevard and Foothill Boulevard, which are identified as Areas 1 through 4. Residents use their home and/or business addresses to determine which lieutenant to contact.
Southwest of Foothill Boulevard and Indian Hill Boulevard.
Contact: Lt. Eric Huizar via email at email@example.com or call (909) 399-5400.
Southeast of Foothill Boulevard and Indian Hill Boulevard.
Contact: Lt. Jason Walters via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (909) 399-5400.
Northwest of Foothill Boulevard and Indian Hill Boulevard.
Contact: Lt. Mike Ciszek via email at email@example.com or call (909) 399-5400.
Northeast of Foothill Boulevard and Indian Hill Boulevard.
Contact: Lt. Karlan Bennett via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (909) 399-5400.
Policing is the Crisis
Even as a dwindling police force in Puerto Rico raises concerns over increasing violence, marginalized communities better served by alternative methods of violence and crime reduction are still vulnerable to state violence.
by Marisol LeBrón
In the year and a half after the passage of Hurricane María, much has been written about Puerto Ricans' feelings of insecurity and concern over rising rates of crime. Immediately following the storm, in December 2017 and January 2018, the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) saw an epidemic of “Blue Flu,” with thousands of police officers calling out sick on a daily basis in protest over terrible pay and conditions. The Blue Flu sick out, which was effectively a huelga de brazos caídos, exacerbated the already dwindling numbers of police out on the streets. Impacted like many other Puerto Ricans by the financial crisis, hundreds of police officers have been leaving the archipelago to take positions throughout the United States. For instance, in 2018, the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI) cited one officer's estimate that the Baltimore Police Department employed approximately 200 Puerto Rican officers. Following Hurricane María and the botched recovery efforts, one can safely assume that other departments' ranks are similarly swollen with disaffected police fleeing the situation in the archipelago.
One year after the PRPD's huelga de brazos caídos, U.S. and Puerto Rican media outlets ran stories that proclaimed that the archipelago was confronting a “security crisis.” The declaration was initially made by FBI special agent Douglas Leff in response to increasing frequency of violent acts, including killings, that were taking place in broad daylight in very public spaces. According to Leff, “When a citizen cannot walk the neighborhood without fearing a bullet, there is a security crisis.” Leff told El Nuevo Día that the FBI would be requesting more personnel and resources in order confront Puerto Rico's security crisis, presumably because the PRPD alone could not tackle these increasingly brazen acts of violence.
Taken together, this all seems to suggest that policing is in crisis—that the formal mechanisms of crime management and control are failing and that the state's security apparatus is increasingly absent in people's everyday lives. This crisis in policing, in turn, contributes to violence, crime, and fear for many Puerto Ricans. One could argue, however, that despite dwindling numbers, the police are just as present in the everyday lives of a variety of citizens and non-citizens and are present primarily as a repressive force. In that sense, declarations of a security crisis notwithstanding, not much seems to have changed between the police and the people following Hurricane María. Pushing against the crisis discourse being promoted by the state, I would argue, building from the crucial work of activists on the ground in Puerto Rico, that policing isn't in crisis. Rather, it is the police and their presence, as opposed to their absence, that has been and remains an instigator of crisis scenarios for many people living in Puerto Rico.
More Police, More Violence
To begin, it is worth stressing that there is no correlation between more police and less crime. Even Héctor Pesquera, the Secretary of Puerto Rico's Department of Public Safety, has said as much. As Pesquera told the CPI: “Is it fair to say that more police presence would prevent murders? No. When we had 17,000 officers in 2012 there were 1600 murders that year. It's got nothing to do with it.” Over the past three decades, Puerto Rico has had one of the largest police forces under U.S. jurisdiction. Indeed, at its height, the PRPD was the second-largest department in the U.S. outnumbered only by the New York Police Department (NYPD). During this same time, Puerto Rico has also had one of the highest homicide rates despite its large police force. More police did not keep thousands of Puerto Ricans from losing their lives to violence over the past thirty years.
The state's desire to cling to a bloated and largely ineffective police force is what has led to the security crisis that does exist in Puerto Rico, particularly for vulnerable and marginalized populations
In my own research, I have documented debates within the Sila María Calderón administration about dramatically reducing the size of the PRPD from 18,500 officers to approximately 12,000 officers through attrition and a temporary moratorium on recruitment efforts. When confronted with a rise in crime rates midway through her term, however, Calderón decided to change course and maintain the PRPD's high numbers fearing criticism that she was soft on crime would damage the image of the Partido Popular Democrático (Popular Democratic Party, PPD). This has been a consistent pattern among Puerto Rico's elected officials whether PPD or the Partido Nuevo Progresista (New Progressive Party, PNP). There is a tacit acknowledgement that more police do not reduce crime but signal instead a refusal to reduce the size of the PRPD or pursue alternative strategies of crime and violence reduction that do not center the police. The state's desire to cling to a bloated and largely ineffective police force is what has led to the security crisis that does exist in Puerto Rico, particularly for vulnerable and marginalized populations.
Activists in Puerto Rico have been challenging the facile notion that more police will make the streets safer and reduce the forms of harm that people are dealing with in their communities. Piercing the code of silence around police violence, Kilómetro 0 has been diligently tracking instances when police use excessive and deadly force against civilians. This year has seen a troubling spike in police officers deploying excessive and deadly force in the line of duty. In February, the police killed Anthony Maldonado Avilés, a 32-year old man from Jayuya who was acting erratically and brandishing a machete. On March 11, police shot Jorge Cordero Colón, a mental health patient from Maricao as he was in the midst of crisis. According to available information, Kilómetro 0 has documented four police killings of civilians so far this year and many more wounded during interactions with police. In this sense, the police are doing a poor job at keeping Puerto Ricans safe, especially those who come from vulnerable communities or those who are experiencing a mental health crisis. Indeed, the police seem to compound violence when called to respond to moments of crisis or incidents with the potential to escalate into violence.
The recent protests by feminists demanding an end to violence against women and gender non-conforming people have made this point explicit: the police themselves are often key instigators of violence. Police “protection” is literally harming and killing people. Activists working to end the femicides and other forms of gender-based violence in Puerto Rico point out that the police are not only ineffective, but are often complicit in a myriad of ways in perpetuating practices and logics that harm women and other vulnerable populations. Feminist activists have pointed our attention to numerous examples of the ways that the police facilitate and enact violence against women; from the fact that police don't take women seriously when they report experiencing violence, to the fact that the PRPD is home to a staggering number of domestic abusers and sexual harassers, to the fact the police recently pepper sprayed, pushed, and hit feminists peacefully protesting outside of the Fortaleza. This is the actual security crisis affecting women and gender non-conforming people in Puerto Rico who often cannot count on the “protection” of the police when they experience violence, and for whom the violence they experience may come at the very hands of a police officer.
Alternatives to Policing
This raises the question: if the police are themselves perpetrators and enablers of harm in people's lives, particularly those who find themselves on the margins due to race, class, citizenship status, gender, sexuality, and spatial location, then what is to be done to address the very real forms of violence that exist in our communities and the insecurity and fear that they breed? The answer, I believe, is that we must work to find alternatives to policing as we attempt to address the crises facing our communities. If we want to truly reduce violence in our communities, then we need to take seriously the police's role in perpetrating that violence and start to think beyond policing. The rise of a global abolitionist movement aimed at transforming our world in a way that renders police, prisons, and border enforcement obsolete provides us with guidance on how to create safer, more secure, and, most importantly, more just communities. But one doesn't need to look outside of Puerto Rico for inspiration. One need only look to the incredible success of Taller Salud's Acuerdo de Paz violence prevention program, which contributed to a remarkable decrease in violence in Loíza over the course of its pilot program.
In many ways, what contributed to the success of the Acuerdo de Paz program was its insistence on decentering the role of the police in addressing harm and replacing it with systems of community accountability. Recognizing that much of the “policework” that takes place in Loíza involves race and class-based discrimination and violence against residents, Acuerdo de Paz staffers committed themselves to the slow and on-going work of changing attitudes around violence and masculinity in order to reduce gang violence in the areas. Additionally, Acuerdo de Paz provided loiceños with concrete alternatives to calling the police during moments of conflict, focusing instead on building a community toolkit based in mediation and communication aimed at addressing and reducing the various forms of harm that individuals enact on one another. As the financial crisis deepened, it became increasingly difficult for Taller Salud to secure funding for the Acuerdo de Paz program despite evidence that suggested that model was achieving success in reducing community violence. Rather than fund a program with the potential to strengthen the local community and create long-lasting safety, the state will continue to send police into Loíza's vulnerable communities who will racially profile residents, harass public housing youth, dole out macanazos, and fracture families through arrest and incarceration. The outcome is that the state will continue to create rather that respond to an existing security crisis within vulnerable communities.
As Amárilis Pagán Jiménez, executive director of Proyecto Matria notes, “When a woman has to go to the police, it's because society has already failed, and that's something we have to be very clear about. The justice system is not a system for the prevention of violence. It isn't the police who prevent violence. The police intervene and investigate, but it is the community that prevents [violence].” Feminists in Puerto Rico are leading the way in not only identifying the actual forms of insecurity that people face, but they're also challenging us to think about how to build community capacities that move us beyond the thin veneer of safety offered by the police in order to actually alleviate that insecurity in a lasting and meaningful way. If the state is actually concerned about addressing what security crisis may exist in Puerto Rico, then they should take heed.
Marisol LeBrón is Assistant Professor in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to arriving at UT, Dr. LeBrón was an Assistant Professor of American Studies at Dickinson College and a Postdoctoral Associate in Latino/a Studies in the Global South at Duke University. Dr. LeBrón received her PhD in American Studies from New York University and her bachelor's degree in Comparative American Studies and Latin American Studies from Oberlin College. An interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. LeBrón's research and teaching focus on social inequality, policing, violence, and protest. Her book, Policing Life and Death: Race, Violence, and Resistance in Puerto Rico (University of California Press, 2019), examines the growth of punitive governance in contemporary Puerto Rico. Dr. LeBrón has published her research in a variety of venues including Radical History Review, Journal of Urban History, Souls: A Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, NACLA Report on the Americas, and the edited volume Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter. Dr. LeBrón's next project, tentatively titled Shared Geographies of Resistance: Puerto Ricans and the Uses of Solidarity, explores the role of Puerto Rican activists in international radical politics and freedom struggles over the course of the twentieth century. Drawing from rich archival data, this project will document how Puerto Ricans in the archipelago and in the diaspora have connected their struggles against U.S. colonial rule with other struggles against colonialism, racism, and military violence taking place around the globe.
Police misconduct may spread like a contagion, new study suggests
by Catherine Matacic
In the late 1990s, Los Angeles Police Department detectives in California uncovered one of the biggest policing scandals in modern U.S. history. More than 70 officers in the antigang unit of the city's Rampart Division were accused of stealing drugs, robbing banks, beating suspects, framing defendants, and—in a separate civil suit—conspiring to murder rapper Christopher Wallace, aka The Notorious B.I.G.
Researchers have long studied patterns of misconduct in such “rogue units,” to see whether they can identify how misbehavior spreads from one officer to another. Now, a team of economists says it has gone even further and measured, for the first time, the influence that misbehaving officers have on one other.
The approach is “promising,” says Robert Worden, a political scientist who studies criminal justice at the State University of New York in Albany, who was not involved with the work. But he's skeptical that it reveals anything about how police misconduct really spreads. “It's really hard to pull together that kind of data,” he says. “There's no magic bullet.”
To find out how co-workers and friends influence each other, researchers typically look for patterns in the data: If a person has many obese friends, for example, there's a good likelihood that they will gain weight. Dozens of studies have uncovered this kind of “peer network” effect for everything from smoking rates to test scores to productivity. (One study shows a whopping 12% increase in productivity when workers are surrounded by hard-toiling colleagues.) But these studies all share a weakness—even though they can show how people change in the presence of others, they cannot ultimately explain what caused the changes.
Edika Quispe-Torreblanca didn't set out to pin down that causal link. Instead, the economist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom—then a graduate student at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom—was invited to look for trends in 4 years' worth of data from London's Metropolitan Police Service. When she and her adviser, University of Warwick economist Neil Stewart, asked the deputy commissioner what the department worried about most, the answer was simple: misconduct.
“Legitimacy is crucial for the police,” Quispe-Torreblanca says. Stewart puts it more bluntly: Everybody—janitors, electricians, professors—cheats a little bit. But, “There aren't many people with the power to imprison somebody. If you're going to give people that kind of power, you don't want them abusing it.”
To find out how “bad apple” officers affected their colleagues' behavior, Quispe-Torreblanca and Stewart pored through the personnel files of 35,924 officers and staff, of whom nearly 15,000 had at least one complaint lodged against them. Some complaints were serious. Others involved improper logging of evidence or use of computer databases to do things like “looking up your sister's new boyfriend to see if he's a decent sort of chap,” Stewart says.
To show true causation, the pair couldn't simply log all cases of coincident bad behavior. It's possible, for example, that staffers with certain personality traits would gravitate toward certain units, or that a specific environment—such as a high-crime neighborhood—might make officers more likely to engage in misconduct.
So the researchers came up with what Stewart calls an econometric “trick.” For every person in the database who had served with different sets of colleagues, the researchers looked at two things: the numbers of complaints lodged against the person's first and second group of co-workers. If the numbers were higher than the average across the entire data set and went up in lockstep as an officer moved from the first to the second group, the researchers could assume the relationship was causal—and that the linking officer was somehow responsible.
Sure enough, the scientists found that for every 10% increase in complaints against the first set of colleagues, complaints against the second set of colleagues went up by nearly 8%, they report today in Nature Human Behavior. That means that “police misconduct spreads … like a contagion,” writes Ojmarrh Mitchell, a criminologist at the University of South Florida in Tampa, in an accompanying editorial.
But Worden says the underlying complaint data make teasing out solid results impossible. “[The researchers] treat all complaints the same regardless of the source … or charge,” he says, noting that some complaints are unsubstantiated, whereas other instances of bad behavior may never make it into the database.
In addition, he doubts that experienced officers would be as susceptible to peer effects as their younger colleagues. “The socialization that officers undergo is more intense in their first year on the job. … By the time they've been on the job 3 to 5 years, they seem comfortable with their work.” So the authors' argument, he says, “just doesn't entirely ring true for me.”
Nevertheless, Stewart says the new method could be used to study all sorts of other questions about peer effects, including how political attitudes spread through social networks. But for now, he and Quispe-Torreblanca are focused on an upcoming visit to discuss their results with Scotland Yard: “I'm not sure there's an earth-shattering result that will cause the police to change everything they do,” Stewart says. “But they're all very keen to have no misconduct.”
Survey: Portland police response to people in mental health crisis is ‘poor,' but officers do good job fighting crime
The survey, done by DMH Research company through a mailing to 6,500 random residential addresses in the city between Jan. 25 and March 3, is a requirement of the federal agreement. Only 21 percent of surveys mailed, or 1,380, were returned.
by Maxine Bernstein
Five years after the city promised to improve its officers' handling of people suffering from mental illness, 42 percent of the people who answered a community survey rated the Portland police response as poor or very poor.
Among respondents who said they have a personal history of mental health issues or a family member who suffers from mental illness, 56 percent described the bureau's response as poor.
More than four in 10 residents also indicated they thought Portland police used more force than necessary when dealing with people in a mental health crisis or people of color.
The survey was done by Portland-based DMH Research through a mailing to 6,500 random residential addresses in Portland between Jan. 25 and March 3 and is a requirement of the city's 2014 settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
The city released the results a week before lawyers from the city and Justice Department are set to return before a federal judge reviewing the case.
Only 21 percent of surveys mailed, or 1,380, were returned.
The settlement followed a federal investigation that found Portland officers too often used stun guns or excessive force with people having a mental health crisis. It called for significant changes to police policies, training and oversight, including offering more extensive crisis intervention training to officers.
"Managing public perceptions related to the work we do and how we do it is one of our biggest challenges," Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said in a prepared response to the survey.
The chief noted the Justice Department recently found that the Police Bureau has substantially complied with required reforms on crisis intervention, but that its work continues. The bureau also is working with outside social service agencies to try to reduce police response to mental health crisis calls that don't warrant officer involvement, she said.
“We continue to assess and train our staff to have the tools they need to handle these calls with compassion. We are a learning organization and are constantly striving to improve,'' according to the Police Bureau's written response to the survey results.
All officers undergo 40 hours of crisis intervention training and 146 Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team officers get a total of 80 hours of such training, according to the bureau. Outlaw cited the recent successful five-hour effort by police to talk a man in crisis down from a construction crane in Southeast Portland and encounter in the last week when officers pulled someone attempting suicide back in through a window.
“These are only two examples of many with similar outcomes due to the work of compassionate PPB officers,'' the chief said. “We are encouraged to hear that those who directly interact with us believe they were treated fairly and we will continue to strive for excellence."
Close to half, or 48 percent, of the residents who responded found that police do a good or very good job fighting crime. Most said they'd report a crime they witnessed in their neighborhood or would work with police to identify an offender.
But a consistent theme came out in the survey that residents have repeatedly voiced to city and police leaders: Members of marginalized communities reported more negative views of the Police Bureau and less positive interactions with officers.
About 23 percent agreed that Portland police may stereotype people because of their race or ethnicity.
In other survey questions:
-- 78 percent said they had not seen foot patrols in their neighborhood in the past year.
-- 30 percent said they feel safe walking alone in the city's downtown at night, slightly below the 32 percent from a 2016 survey. That's in contrast with 59 percent who said they would feel safe walking alone at night in their neighborhoods.
-- A third said they had contacted Portland police to report a crime or seek help, and most of those who did said they were treated fairly.
“Overall, results suggest that Portland residents hold a positive view of Portland police when it comes to fighting crime. They remain concerned about how police may treat people of racial and ethnic minority groups and those with mental health conditions,” DMH Research wrote in its report.
“People within those marginalized communities have elevated concerns about police behavior and lower levels of trust that they will be treated respectfully.”
Lawyers for the city and Justice Department will return June 6 before U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon to update him on how the city's approach is working to involve the community in overseeing police reforms.
The judge in January gave only "conditional'' approval to the city's creation of a new Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing, a group of volunteers formed to help oversee the reforms. It held its first public meeting in November. Its predecessor disbanded in January 2017 amid acrimony and lack of support.
Apps That Blast Out Crime Alerts Don't Have to Rattle You
Neighborhood-watch networks are on the rise, even though crime is not. Here's how to put the data into perspective.
by Brian X. Chen
My phone recently buzzed with an alarming notification: Police officers were responding to a shooting about a mile away.
A few hours later, another alert popped up, letting me know that two men were fighting in an alleyway nearby. Then my inbox loaded an email with a message that a neighbor had found a man trying to break into his house.
The notifications arrived because of two apps I was using: Nextdoor, a social network for neighbors, and Citizen, which delivers alerts on local crimes in progress. Both are among the most downloaded news apps today, according to App Annie, the research firm.
They are also part of a crop of apps that focus on keeping people informed about their neighborhoods, a category that is likely to grow. Last year, for instance, Amazon acquired Ring, which makes a doorbell that doubles as a security camera. The retail giant recently posted a job listing for someone to manage a team of news journalists who would write crime alerts for an app.
The seemingly constant barrage of news about criminal activity could lead people to conclude that the world is far more dangerous than it ever was. The reality is that the violent-crime rate in the United States has fallen sharply — by about 49 percent from 1993 to 2017, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Property crime has also declined significantly.
“Seeing a lot of crime reports isn't something that gives you any context,” said Rachel Thomas, a professor for the University of San Francisco's Data Institute and a co-founder of Fast.ai, an independent lab that focuses on artificial intelligence.
So how do we best use these neighborhood networking apps without succumbing to anxiety and paranoia? After all, the apps can be useful for learning about community events or getting recommendations for local businesses, like plumbers and electricians.
In recent weeks, I tested several of the apps and spoke to data experts to gain a perspective on how to use community data in a productive and healthy way. Here's what I learned.
Look at the business model
Scanning dozens of crime-related alerts won't tell you much about the state of crime in your neighborhood. So look elsewhere for additional context, like a company's business model, Dr. Thomas said.
For example: Amazon's Ring offers Neighbors, a free app for getting a comprehensive look at potential criminal activity nearby. When you set it up, you see a map of your neighborhood, with color-coded icons labeled crime, safety or suspicious. Residents in the area can contribute to the map by posting videos recorded with their Ring doorbells to document break-in attempts, for example, or by writing posts about police activity.
By default, Neighbors displays crimes posted over the last 30 days. That shows an accumulation of incidents, which can unnecessarily give people the impression that their area was being swarmed by criminals.
For Amazon, this may not be a bad thing, as it may help sell more Ring doorbells. But for the rest of us, a 30-day view may overstate what a neighborhood's crime level looks like day to day.
So I recommend setting the filter on such apps to look at content posted over the last day only. When I changed that setting, the number of crime postings in my neighborhood dropped to zero. It was a useful reminder that the number of daily incidents is low.
A representative for Amazon's Ring did not comment on the suggestion that the Neighbors app created the impression that a neighborhood was more dangerous in order to sell doorbells. However, the company noted that not everything posted to Neighbors was dangerous — people could also find information about lost pets and updates about street closings, for example.
Graze in moderation
Do you really need a constant update on crime news? Unless you work in law enforcement, the answer is probably not.
So treat crime news as you would any type of media: Check the apps when doing so may actually be productive and healthy. If crime news makes you stressful, don't look at the apps late at night before bed. And disable the constant notifications and emails.
That's what I did with the Citizen app. After using it for a day, I disabled notifications so that I couldn't be alerted about every nearby crime in progress.
Instead, I checked the app only when it made the most sense. This week, when stopped at a red light, I saw two men fighting at a gas station. I clicked on the Citizen app, which showed that the altercation had already been reported to the police. So instead of pulling over and calling 911, I moved on.
Resist dwelling on the negative
Many people have a negative bias. We gravitate toward reading negative news stories, and when something bad happens, we are more likely to talk about it than when something good happens.
Keep that in mind when perusing neighborhood networking apps. The general news feed on Nextdoor shows an array of posts on topics like lost pets, used furniture for sale, a handyman's offer of services and, occasionally, a crime.
The crime-related posts may be all you remember, but they are rare. Only 4 percent of posts on Nextdoor are related to crime and safety, said Sarah Friar, the company's chief executive.
“If you spend more time in the overall feed and ask yourself, ‘What do I hear in here?' — 96 percent of all the posts are about other things,” she said.
Are you the product?
Because many of these neighborhood-watch apps are free, you have to wonder what they are doing with your data. When tech products cost you nothing, companies often make money in other ways, like sharing data about you with advertisers.
Citizen was a different matter. I realized that when users sign up for the app, it required them to constantly share their location data. The company said sharing this data lets you receive real-time notifications for nearby crimes in progress. In a future software update, it said, the use of location data would allow it to send fewer and more relevant notifications to keep people safe and informed.
Users can later opt out of sharing their location if they decide to turn off notifications. But the company did not comment when I asked about why its opt-in approach to location sharing was so aggressive. So until Citizen changes its data collection practices, I plan to delete it.
South Los Angeles Man Sentenced to Over 10 Years in Federal Prison for Receipt of Child Pornography
by Nicola T. Hanna, United States Attorney, Central District of California
LOS ANGELES – A federal judge has sentenced a South Los Angeles man to more than 10 years in federal prison for receiving child pornography he obtained over a peer-to-peer computer network.
Fernando Vasquez Garcia, 31, was sentenced on May 24 to 121 months in prison, which will be followed by a lifetime period of supervised release. In addition to the prison term, United States District Judge André Birotte Jr. ordered Garcia to pay $1,000 in restitution to one victim and a $5,000 special assessment pursuant to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.
Garcia pleaded guilty on February 22 to one count of receiving child pornography. When he pleaded guilty, Garcia admitted obtaining videos and still images from a peer-to-peer network that depicted, among other things, a 10-year-old being forced to have sex and children under the age of 2 being used for sex acts.
When he was juvenile, Garcia had an adjudication for committing a lewd act on a child, according to court documents. Prosecutors argued that the juvenile offense, combined with the child pornography offense, demonstrated a “well-documented and lifelong sexual interest in, and obsession with, children.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation into Garcia.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kathy Yu of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section.
Thom Mrozek, Director of Media Relations