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Article

Community Policing in Comparative Perspective  

Jacques de Maillard and Jan Terpstra

Community (oriented) policing has become one of the most popular models of policing worldwide. After its initial implementation in many Western countries, community policing has also been transferred to transitional societies, which often lack strong democratic traditions. The international diffusion of community policing should not make us forget that community policing comes in all shapes and sizes and is highly varied in its operations. After having defined the concept and analyzed its rise in Anglo-American countries, this diversity is illustrated by scrutinizing its implementation in different national configurations: a continental European country relatively open to Anglo-American influences (the Netherlands), socially homogeneous countries with a high level of trust in the police (the Nordic countries), a centralized country with an administrative Napoleonic tradition (France), and postconflict societies (South Africa and Northern Ireland). These various national trajectories highlight the common drivers and barriers in community policing reforms: political priorities (through emphasizing crime fighting or zero tolerance policing), socioeconomic disparities and ethnic tensions (which may imply a history of mistrust and vicious circles between the police and some segments of the public), professional identities and interests (disqualifying community police officers as “social workers”), and organizational resources (managerial procedures, lack of training and human resources) that may hinder the reform process. These diverse experiences also draw attention to the variety of context-dependent factors that impact the fate of community policing reforms. Political climates, police–government relations, socioeconomic inequalities, and police traditions may differ, which requires further analysis of the various political, historical, socioeconomic, and cultural contexts of specific community policing reforms.

Article

Global Developments in Policing Provision in the 21st Century  

Clifford Shearing and Philip Stenning

Significant developments in our understandings of, and thinking about, “policing” have occurred in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. These have been reflected in redefinitions of the words “police” and “policing” that scholars use when writing about it. By the middle of the 19th century the word "police" in English was understood to refer to the state-sponsored institution responsible for order maintenance, crime control, and law enforcement, and its officers; and the word policing referred to what its officers did to achieve these objectives. Police were typically referred to as “the police,” indicating that they uniquely performed this role. But in the decades after the Second World War, scholars and consultants brought the world’s attention to a dramatic growth in nonstate institutions that were fulfilling similar roles; they were referred to as “private security.” Research revealed that private security were undertaking the same tasks and responsibilities as the police were but doing so in different ways, with different objectives, and different means. They more often saw their role as loss prevention—rather than crime control—and did not see presenting offenders before the criminal justice system as a good way to achieve that. Rather, they developed ways of achieving order and preventing losses that drew on the power of their clients—for instance to exclude troublemakers from their property—rather than the kinds of legal powers relied on by the police, which they typically did not have anyway. Policing scholars began to talk of “private police” and “private policing.” What is more, research revealed that within a couple of decades of the end of the Second World War, private security personnel had come to outnumber public police personnel, in some countries by as much as 3 to 1. It also became apparent that even within government there was an increasing number of organizations and personnel, other than “the police,” such as customs officials, tax inspectors, and so forth, who could also be considered to be doing policing. Many police researchers redefined themselves as policing researchers, interested in studying all these different public and private organizations and personnel who seemed to be doing policing, and what their relationships with each other were. By the 1990s, in light of these research findings, policing scholars began to talk about plural policing provision, rather than just about the relationships between “private security” and “the police.” A whole lot of new questions arose: Who is doing policing? What are the different ways of doing it? In whose interests is it being done? What are the implications of this for policing policy? How can policing provision be effectively governed given its prolific diversity? How are developments like globalization and technological advances impacting the challenges faced by policing providers? And which providers are best placed to meet which of these challenges? And finally, is policing just about addressing human threats to safety and security ? What about threats to safety and security arising from natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and droughts, or other manifestations of climate change such as global warming? Or from pandemics and the like? Or from the development of artificial intelligence? In short, what do “policing” and policing provision mean in the 21st century? And how will we understand and think about them in the future? Certainly not as we understood them in the middle of the 20th century.

Article

Militarization of Law Enforcement in America  

Frederic Lemieux

Police militarization refers to the process by which law enforcement agencies (LEAs) increasingly acquire and use military-grade equipment, tactics, and training in their operations. This includes the use of weapons, vehicles, and tactics that were previously associated with military operations, such as armored vehicles, assault rifles, and Special Weaponry and Tactics teams. Militarization of the police can also refer to adopting a more aggressive and confrontational approach to policing, which emphasizes the use of force and intimidation to maintain order, rather than community engagement and problem solving. This approach can lead to a breakdown of trust between law enforcement officials and the communities they serve, and can exacerbate tensions between police and marginalized communities. The increasing militarization of police forces in the United States can be traced back to the 1980s, when the U.S. Congress passed the Military Cooperation With Law Enforcement Act, which allowed the military to provide local LEAs with surplus military equipment. This program was expanded in the 1990s and 2000s, with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the 1033 Program. These policies and strategies directly contributed to the use of aggressive and lethal tactics by LEAs in the United States and abroad.

Article

War, Police, and the Production of Global Social Order  

Nicholas Walrath and Travis Linnemann

The year 2020 saw police militarization again thrust into debates regarding the nature and extent of police violence. Critics of police militarization suggest that as departments have assumed military weaponry and tactics, the institution has drifted from its original mandate of crime control and public service, portending lethal consequences for the most vulnerable. While these critics trace its origins to the advent of SWAT, No Knock raids and other tactics born of the war on drugs, what is misread as the “blurring” of military and police is in fact symptomatic of a much older process of pacification, whereby both the war power and the police power are enlisted to discipline surplus populations and establish market conditions in the interests of capital. From this position, policing has not been poisoned by the practices of war, nor have the boundaries between foreign and domestic muddied, but rather military and police are mutually constitutive and parts of a continuum of state violence. Here the “iron fist” of open violence and repression and the velvet glove of “community policing” work in conjunction to facilitate the conditions of liberal social order.

Article

Cyberpolicing  

Jin R. Lee

Cybercrime is generally understood as behaviors that involve the use of virtual environments and/or networked computer systems to generate harm. This broad definition of cybercrime captures a variety of different online behaviors, including interpersonal violence offenses such as cyberbullying and online harassment, as well as those involving the unauthorized use and access of computer systems such as malware dissemination, ransomware, and distributed denial of service attacks. Cybercrimes are policed by both law enforcement (e.g., local, state or provincial, federal) and extralegal agencies. Local law enforcement agencies are composed of police officers, who are generally tasked with maintaining public order within a specific municipality or county, including investigating crimes, apprehending offenders, and implementing crime prevention mechanisms (e.g., educating the public on available resources; proactive neighborhood patrol) within their local jurisdiction. State and provincial law enforcement agencies are larger police forces that are generally responsible for conduct that occurs within their wider state and provincial borders, including conducting highway traffic control and providing forensic services to smaller local agencies residing within their state or province. State and provincial agencies often become involved only when local forces are limited in their resources to adequately respond to an incident or when local jurisdictional conflicts exist. Federal agencies operate at the highest level of law enforcement, because they deal with crimes that involve homeland security. In fact, federal agencies can obtain cooperation among several national jurisdictions depending on existing political ties and extradition agreements. Several extralegal agencies (e.g., Internet Crime Complaint Center; Computer Emergency Response Teams) are also active in responding to cybercrime incidents. These agencies, which may develop from either public or private sectors, generally perform acts that support law enforcement, including facilitating communication and information sharing between victims and law enforcement agencies. Despite efforts to sanction online offenses, research suggests that cybercrimes present several challenges for law enforcement agencies across all levels of government. First, cybercrime offenders often anonymize their attacks and offline identities, making arrests and criminal prosecutions extremely challenging. Second, even if offenders and their actions are identified, agencies are limited by their geographic location and jurisdiction. Third, the technical nature of cybercrime means that victims may not be aware of their victimization until months after the attack, which may affect the identification of digital evidence necessary to prosecute an offender. Fourth, law enforcement officers may not possess the knowledge and expertise needed to secure and investigate a digital crime scene adequately. One approach that could improve how cybercrimes are enforced and regulated is the paradigm of evidence-based policing (EBP). EBP is a collective effort involving law enforcement agencies, academic researchers, and industry personnel/practitioners, whose central focus is to develop a robust evidence base that can identify current and emerging problems in policing, examine possible solutions to these problems using rigorous scientific methods, and monitor these solutions over extended periods of time to ensure successful outcomes are maintained. Knowing which operational practices work best in different situations will not only lead to a more intentional use of officers’ time and agency resources but also strengthen public perceptions of law enforcement in responding to cybercrime calls for service.

Article

Hate Crimes in a Cross-Cultural Context  

Keller G. Sheppard, Nathaniel L. Lawshe, and Jack McDevitt

Hate crimes are criminal offenses that involve elements of bias based on some individual characteristics of the victim, including race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and religion. The passage of laws criminalizing or enhancing the punishment for crimes featuring bias motivations has been met with intense controversy. In addressing criticism of such legislation, proponents of these laws highlight the considerable harms caused by hate crime. These incidents are considered especially heinous as they not only violate the civil and human rights of the immediate victim but also send a message of fear to the entirety of that victim’s community or social group. Prior scholarship on these offenses have employed numerous theoretical frameworks—psychological, historical, sociological, and economic theories—to describe why perpetrators target victims based on perceived group identity. Other work has provided insight into the causes of hate crime by considering factors distinguishing bias-motivated offenders from other criminal offenders. Conflicting legal definitions of hate crime add to the complexity of its conceptualization. At the international level, hate crime statutes are strongly influenced by the different social, cultural, and historical contexts across nations. Hate crime laws differ markedly across countries with respect to the specification of protected groups’ identities, treatment of hate speech, legal standards for establishing bias motivation, and utilization of hate crime statutes for criminal prosecutions. These differences, coupled with nationally distinct methodologies for recording bias-motivated incidents, have stymied attempts to engage in cross-national comparisons of the quality and extent of hate crime.

Article

Proactive Policing and Terrorism  

Badi Hasisi, Simon Perry, and Michael Wolfowicz

Over the last few decades, one of the most pressing issues for governments, societies, and the law enforcement agencies that serve and protect them has been the threat of terrorism. Given that these changes represent a relatively new area for police, it is important to understand how terrorism is best policed and what approaches, strategies, and tactics are most effective. While the evidence base is still in its developmental stages, the evidence that does exist suggests that proactive policing strategies already employed against other forms of crime are the most useful and effective for policing terrorism. Policing efforts that focus on high concentrations of crimes at places (“hotspots”), or among the high-risk offenders, and employ problem-solving perspectives and use community-based strategies show consistent evidence of effectiveness and improving relations between the police and the public. Based on this evidence, policing agencies that undertake proven, proactive strategies toward policing terrorism are better able to incorporate their new role and focus within their broader law enforcement functions. By doing so, policing agencies can expand their role and function in a way that draws on their experience and strengths, rather than “reinventing the wheel” and overstretching resources. Additionally, policing agencies from different countries can draw on their own experience and local knowledge in dealing with other forms of crime, as well as the experience of other agencies and countries, in order to develop a comprehensive and multidimensional approach to policing terrorism.

Article

Police Corruption  

Leslie Holmes

Police corruption is ubiquitous and is a serious problem for numerous reasons. One is that police officers are often armed and can therefore pose a physical threat to citizens in a way that most other state officials do not. Another is that citizens typically expect the police to uphold the law and be the “final port of call” in fighting crime, including that of other state officials: if law enforcement officers cannot be trusted, most citizens have nowhere else to turn when seeking justice. Leading on from this, if citizens do not trust the police, they are much less likely to cooperate with them, resulting in higher unsolved crime rates. Yet according to Transparency International’s 2017 Global Corruption Barometer, more people pay bribes to law enforcement officers globally than to any other public officials, rendering the police the most corrupt branch of the state in many countries. Police corruption assumes numerous forms, from relatively benign but irritating demands for bribes from motorists to improper procurement procedures and—most dangerously—collusion with organized crime gangs in the trafficking of drugs, weapons, and humans, and occasionally even in contract killing. One other form of miscreancy was identified in the 1980s as largely peculiar to the police, namely “noble cause corruption.” This term, also known as the “Dirty Harry problem,” is applied when police officers deliberately bend or break the law not for personal benefit but in the belief that this is ultimately for the good of society. Many factors drive police corruption, including inadequate salaries, frustration with the leniency of the courts, opportunity, envy (of wealthy criminals), and simple greed. Combating it is no easy task, but methods that have significantly lowered corruption rates in countries such as Singapore and Georgia include reducing discretionary decision-making, radical restructuring, risk assessments, greater use of psychological testing, improving working conditions, lifestyle monitoring, civilian review, and introducing anti-corruption agencies that are completely independent of the police. But police corruption is ultimately a “wicked” problem, meaning that it is so complex and changeable that it can never be completely solved; the best that can be hoped for is that it will be brought down to manageable proportions.

Article

Marginalized Women, Domestic and Family Violence Reforms and Their Unintended Consequences  

Ellen Reeves and Silke Meyer

In the last 50 years, a wide body of research on domestic and family violence (DFV) has emerged, much of which focuses on the victim-survivor experience with the criminal justice system. DFV is an area of rapid law reform, most notably in Western nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, as legislative bodies attempt to align policies with emerging knowledge and best-practice principles. Policy and law reform, however, have seen a tension between limiting and enhancing victim autonomy in the criminal justice system process. For the most part, policies have focused on the former, reflecting the understanding that DFV is a crime against the state, thus rendering a victim’s ability to choose how they wish to seek protection a secondary priority. For some women, a mandatory criminal justice system intervention may be a useful tool in seeking protection and addresses past limitations of legal responses to DFV, wherein the violence committed by men against women was largely ignored. However, for many other women, engagement in the criminal or civil justice systems may both enhance risks to safety as well as further engrain disadvantage. While DFV policies have been well intended and reflective of the growing shift toward recognizing DFV as a significant public health issue, the same policies have largely ignored the voices of marginalized women and the ways in which “choice” may manifest differently for different women. There are often unintended consequences of DFV reforms relating to justice responses, which disproportionately affect some victims. Thus, a more nuanced approach in police and court responses to DFV is important to minimize adverse effects on victim-survivor voice and help-seeking.

Article

Procedural Justice in the Criminal Justice System  

Elise Sargeant, Julie Barkworth, and Natasha S. Madon

Fairness and equity are key concerns in modern liberal democracies. In step with this general trend, academics and practitioners have long been concerned with the fairness of procedures utilized by the criminal justice system. Definitions vary, but procedural justice is loosely defined as fair treatment and fair decision-making by authorities. In the criminal justice system, the procedural justice of authorities such as police officers, judicial officers, and correctional officers is evaluated by members of the public. Procedural justice in the criminal justice system is viewed as an end in and of itself, but it is also an opportunity to yield various outcomes including legitimacy, public compliance with the law, cooperation with criminal justice officials, and satisfaction with criminal justice proceedings and outcomes.