See also Predictive policing, Law and jurisprudence, Predicting recidivism, Forensic science.
Friedman, B., & Ponomarenko, M. (2015). Democratic policing. New York University Law Review, 90(6), 1827–1907.
Argues that internal departmental policies guiding use of force, SWAT, investigative tactics, etc. are undemocratic, and that these policies should be decided by the same types of democratic processes as for other government regulations.
Lum, C., & Nagin, D. S. (2017). Reinventing American policing. Crime and Justice, 46(1), 339–393. doi:10.1086/688462
Proposals to improve policing:
Seven steps are essential to reinvention of democratic policing: Prioritize crime prevention over arrest. Create and install systems that monitor citizen reactions to the police and routinely report results back to the public and police supervisors and officers. Reform training and redefine the “craft of policing.” Recalibrate organizational incentives. Strengthen accountability with greater transparency. Incorporate the analysis of crime and citizen reaction into managerial practice. Strengthen national-level research and evaluation.
I also wonder whether accountability and public perception of police could be improved with Friedman’s “democratic policing” notion – is it easier to see police as procedurally just when the procedures are publicly written?
Notably, does not recommend major investments in forensics or investigation, because clearance rates have hardly budged in decades and there’s no indication that fancy forensics will fix it. Most crimes are solved by showing up while the perpetrator is still there, or by eyewitnesses, not by forensics, and more investment won’t budge the clearance rate much.
Lvovsky, A. (2017). The judicial presumption of police expertise. Harvard Law Review, 130(8), 1995–2081.
A detailed history of how police officers went from being treated by courts as unreliable witnesses requiring confirmation from experts (e.g. doctors on the effects of drugs, chemists on their identification) to being treated as experts on all aspects of crime, on the basis of their academy training and experience. Eventually, crimes which would otherwise be unconstitutionally vague (such as loitering for the intent of prostitution) were salvaged by assuming that a well-trained officer knew exactly what to look for.
My concern is: how does a police expert witness ever find out if their judgment is wrong? Correction is essential to prevent “expertise” from consisting of a mountain of confirmation bias, but when a defendant is convicted because the officer testified that their drugs were packaged for resale, there’s no opportunity to correct the record. (Of course the defendant says they were for his own use, because he’s guilty, right?) So officer expertise is validated by convictions, not by comparison with the ground truth, which is not known.
Also see reply: [To read] Friedman, B. (2017). Why do courts defer to cops? Harvard Law Review Forum, 130, 323–331.
[To read] Friedman, B., & Stein, C. B. (2016). Redefining what’s "reasonable": The protections for policing. George Washington Law Review, 84(2), 281–353.
Joh, E. E. (2016). The new surveillance discretion: Automated suspicion, big data, and policing. Harvard Law & Policy Review, 10, 15–42.
Suppose police have license plate readers, monitor social media, track gang memberships, and so on. Fourth Amendment analysis doesn’t enter into the picture, because these sources can be monitored before an investigation has even started; instead, we must worry about police discretion about when to start an investigation based on the data. If they have the power to look into anyone’s life based on public data, and do so in secrecy, how do we get accountability? Doesn’t really suggest any solutions, instead concluding with “Because policing is a democratic institution and not just a technological enterprise, those concerns should trouble us.”
See also Privacy.
[To read] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2017). Proactive policing: Effects on crime and communities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/24928
Comprehensive NAS report summarizing the research on proactive policing tactics, such as hot spots policing, problem-oriented policing, CCTV, stop-question-frisk, focused deterrence, and community policing.
Welsh, B. C., Farrington, D. P., & Taheri, S. A. (2015). Effectiveness and social costs of public area surveillance for crime prevention. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 11(1), 111–130. doi:10.1146/annurev-lawsocsci-120814-121649. http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-lawsocsci-120814-121649
Do measures like CCTV, better lighting, and extra staff (guards, parking attendants, etc.) reduce crime in public places? The evidence suggests
(See also Privacy and surveillance.)
[To read] Meissner, C. A., Kelly, C. E., & Woestehoff, S. A. (2015). Improving the effectiveness of suspect interrogations. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 11(1), 211–233. doi:10.1146/annurev-lawsocsci-120814-121657
[To read] Fagan, J., & Geller, A. (2015). Following the Script: Narratives of Suspicion in Terry Stops in Street Policing. University of Chicago Law Review, 82, 51–88.
Weisburd, D., Telep, C. W., Hinkle, J. C., & Eck, J. E. (2010). Is problem-oriented policing effective in reducing crime and disorder? Criminology & Public Policy, 9(1), 139–172. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9133.2010.00617.x
Systematic review of the (lack of) evidence surrounding “problem-oriented policing”, which deploys police to solve specific community problems rather than just to deter crime. Finds only a few rigorous studies despite POP being in fashion for decades, with modest effect sizes.
Goel, S., Rao, J. M., & Shroff, R. (2016). Precinct or prejudice? Understanding racial disparities in new york city’s stop-and-frisk policy. The Annals of Applied Statistics, 10(1), 365–394. doi:10.1214/15-aoas897
Shows how careful analysis of policing tactics must be to be meaningful. It’s interesting to see how a portion of apparent racial bias can instead be attributed to systematic unjustified frisks in certain high-crime areas which tend to be minority-majority; this suggests that predictive policing models designating areas as “high crime” could be misused quite extensively to justify searches that are usually fruitless. (Beyond this effect, there is also a clearly lower hit rate for blacks than whites, suggesting prejudice or other confounding.)
The idea of empirically testing which suspicious features (“furtive movements”, “suspicious bulge”, etc.) best predict true positives is really interesting. What other “gut feeling” judgments can we quantify and assess?
Nagin, D. S., & Telep, C. W. (2017). Procedural justice and legal compliance. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 13(1). doi:10.1146/annurev-lawsocsci-110316-113310
If police treat people in a “procedurally just” way – characterized by “dignity and respect, trustworthy motives, neutrality, and voice” – do people perceive the police as more legitimate, and hence commit less crime? A review of the evidence gives a firm “maybe, maybe not”; it’s difficult to build a good experiment here and the evidence is scattered. Tentative conclusions: unfair treatment has a significant negative effect, but fair treatment doesn’t have a huge positive effect. Studies of training methods to improve police procedural justice are promising but inconsistent and incomplete. Confounding and reverse causality haven’t yet been ruled out. Before we make broad public policy claims, we’ll need better evidence.
Fagan, J., & Richman, D. (2017). Understanding recent spikes and longer trends in American murders. Columbia Law Review, 117(5), 1235–1296. http://columbialawreview.org/content/understanding-recent-spikes-and-longer-trends-in-american-murders/
Analyzes the long-term trends in homicide and violent crime in the United States, identifying three peaks attributable to different drug epidemics and the differences between the epidemics leading to different types of crime. Discusses policing missteps that contribute to these, such as sweeps in high-crime areas which net mostly petty criminals but turn the community against the police, lowering clearance rates in more serious crimes; when serious crimes aren’t cleared, the community is even more convinced that the police don’t care, and so on, in a vicious cycle. Also discusses the police reaction to anti-police protests triggered by shooting incidents and alleged abuses.