Friday, 31 July 2015

Community Policing: at home and abroad

on ANP
In this ongoing series on quant peace research, in addition to examining international conflict issues, I want to explore the domestic issue of police militarization.  And due to the fact that policing has been one of the two most successful drivers curtailing terrorist activity in the past (not military action), it seems critical to evaluate how current policing can advance counterterrorism aims or at least partner with local communities affected by the war on terror in a constructive manner. (The other component has been politicalization fyi.)

In considering current US policing, why has a strategy that asserts a military presence or lethal force too frequently won out over one which emphasizes negotiation and community policing? While the jarring and violent negative consequences of these tactics have been receiving increased media attention, the focus of this research is on what can be learned from analyzing other challenging environments that have struggled with the implementation of community policing within a militarized context.  Based on discussions with colleagues who have operational experience in several conflict and post-conflict policing contexts (Nicaragua, Sudan, Kenya, and Afghanistan), I am gathering and synthesizing information about how their experiences are similar and/or different to my local police in terms of training and their day-to-day environment.

The police force in each case study is confronted by their own challenges, environments, and populations; however, even small details and insights can generate improved security.  

In the case of the US, two key goals could be:
1.  Addressing the domestic repercussions of our own post-war status such as returning veterans that may have PTSD or other issues that could involve emergency services (imagine the police called to a situation where a veteran is having a metal health crisis but also armed… is this time for SWAT or negotiation with police and health care workers?)  

In the case of my local environment, 1 in 16 members of the metro population was a veteran according to 2010 census data.  (Imagine your own household and neighbors to either side... is that close to 16 individuals?)

2.  In relation to terrorism dissolution (tbd in a subsequent post), one of the two things that has been proven successful in combating terrorism is community policing... as opposed to militarized policing.  Is this emerging challenge integrated in training or a broader mission strategy?  How about in other countries that are currently at war as well as dealing with terrorism?  How does each case study's approach support ongoing and future counterterrorism efforts?

Several of these countries are dealing with violent conflict and terrorist threats or, as in the case of Nicaragua, are post-war environments, and exemplify a system that was developed with violence and crime prevention in mind.  (How is crime prevention measured you might ask.   Good question and one of the many things I’m reading about.)  Most of the case study countries have enlisted international consultants to train their police forces.  In Nicaragua, for example, they have had a training partnership with Sweden.  In Afghanistan, the US is often enlisted as the international consultant; however, the strategies the US helped develop for the ANP are markedly different from those the US pursues at home .  There might be an obvious answer to why those differences exists, but it is valuable to reflect on what purpose they serve and how successful they are.  

Basically, mountains of reports and government data to read, potential field visits, and some exciting synthesis potential for quant peace analysis! (What did you do on your summer vacation?)

To begin with some stats about the local environment that police are engaging with here in Indianapolis, IN
                                                                    City                               State


Veterans, 2009-2013

White alone

Black or African American


Hispanic or Latino*

* Hispanics may be of any race, so also are included in applicable race categories. 

Language other than English spoken at home, % age 5+,   2009-2013

Bachelor's degree or higher, percent of persons age 25+, 2009-2013
Persons below poverty level, percent, 2009-2013

What can we infer from any of these numbers?  How does this environment and population compare with the other case studies?  More to come in the next posts....

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