On Academic Writing and Style: A sociologist’s response to an anthropological account. PDF
PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review. Vol. 33 (S1), May 2010.
The more jargon and sociobabble we anthropologists, sociologists, and ethnographers spew out--the more we strive to define ourselves as literate scribes in an academic temple--the more irrelevant we become.
Aping quantitative science is not the answer. Imagine if all poetry had to conform to the structure of a haiku. ... [Who] would remember "Casey at the Bat" if it were written like this: mighty casey swings – oh two two on down by two – no joy in Mudville.
I just wish more academics would worry about the Elements of Style as much as they obsess over the whims of anonymous reviewers and straitjacket themselves with journal orthodoxy.
Why You Never Chase. Full Text
West Side Spirit. February 26, 2010.
Karen Schmeer’s death is more than a simple tragedy. Karen wasn’t just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Karen might be alive if police did not bend or break the exact rules put in place to prevent this kind of senseless death.
The NYPD pursuit policy is based on the only effective way to reduce the danger of a car chase: don’t do it. For police, it's as simple as it is unsatisfying.
Juking the Stats. Full Text
Copinthehood.com. February 17, 2010.
Sergeants, lieutenants, captains and inspectors feel intense pressure to produce ever better stats. To some extent this can be good. Police are paid to work. But the pressure to produce more with less is as overwhelming as it is unrealistic. Mind you, the orders never come from above to just make numbers up, but when commanding officers talk about “productivity,” the rank-and-file hear “quotas.”
From Amsterdam: Lessons on controlling drugs. Full Text — PDF
Washington Post. October 25, 2009.
In Amsterdam, the red-light district is the oldest and most notorious neighborhood. Two picturesque canals frame countless small pedestrian alleyways lined with legal prostitutes, bars, porn stores and coffee shops. In 2008, I visited the local police station and asked about the neighborhood's problems. I laughed when I heard that dealers of fake drugs were the biggest police issue -- but it's true.
Angels in Blue: The Virtues of Foot Patrol.PDF
The American Interest. Sep/Oct, 2009.
The pattern today is when police start driving, they never "walk foot" again. That represents a loss for community and police alike. Foot patrol officers knew their neighborhood because in a real sense they were part of it. Beat cops watched people grow up, get jobs, or get in trouble.
Just as overtime pay drives discretionary arrests, extra pocket money would change the very culture of patrol. Officers need to want to walk foot, and more money is a way to make them want it. Only with willing officers does foot patrol bring the best possible benefits.
It's Time to Legalize Drugs. Full Text — PDF
Washington Post. August 16, 2009.
Only after years of witnessing the ineffectiveness of drug policies ... have we and other police officers begun to question the system.
Drug manufacturing and distribution is too dangerous to remain in the hands of unregulated criminals. Drug distribution needs to be the combined responsbility of doctors, the government, and a legal and regulated free market. This simple step would quickly emiminate the greatest threat of violence: street-corner drug dealing.
A Cops' Eye View of the Gates' Arrest. Full Text — PDF
Baltimore Sun. July 31, 2009.
Every police/public confrontation ends up in one of three ways: the suspect 1) leaves the scene, 2) defers to police authority, or 3) gets locked up. Mr. Gates couldn't do the first option, he refused to do the second, so he virtually begged for number three. It was certainly wrong, in this situation, to arrest Mr. Gates. But can it ever be right to cuff somebody for "contempt of cop"? The short answer is: yes.
Two Shades of Blue: Black and White in the Blue Brotherhood.
Law Enforcement Executive Forum. Vol. 8(5). September 2008.
Black and white police officers have different attitudes towards the role of police in society, police department politics, and the minority community. A common ground of police identity is found in conservative social beliefs and opposition to “ghetto” culture. But attitudinal similarities do not negate differences between the races. Black and white police do not blend into the same shade of blue.
Drugs Are Too Dangerous Not to Regulate. Full Text — PDF
U.S. News & World Report. August 4, 2008.
Drugs are bad. So let's legalize them.
It's not as crazy as it sounds. Legalization does not mean giving up. It means regulation and control. By contrast, criminalization means prohibition. But we can't regulate what we prohibit, and drugs are too dangerous to remain unregulated.
The Better Part of Valor:
Court-Overtime Pay as the Main Determinant for Discretionary Police Arrests. PDF
Law Enforcement Executive Forum. Vol. 8(3). May 2008.
Discretionary arrests are more influenced by officer-based variables than any suspect-based variable. The discretionary will—even whim—of individual police officers, the desire to make an arrest, is the best predictor of arrest numbers. Desire for court overtime pay is the single more important factor affecting the quantity of discretionary arrests. Age and morale are also significant causal variables.
Against Prediction by Bernard Harcourt. Full Text — PDF
American Journal of Sociology. 2008. Vol. 113(5).
Under the medieval system of tything, individuals could be held responsible for the misdeeds of others in their collective group. In the movie Minority Report, set in the near future, criminals are incarcerated before they commit their crimes. Our present system of justice, according to Bernard E. Harcourt’s Against Prediction, combines the worst of both worlds. “The quest for prediction,” Harcourt writes, “has distorted our conception of just policing by emphasizing efficiency over crime minimization. Profiling has become second nature because of our natural tendency to favor economic efficiency.”
911 and the Failure of
Police Rapid Response. PDF
Law Enforcement Executive Forum. 2007. vol. 7(4).
No police officer is ever promoted to beat cop. Foot patrol is most often a form of punishment. While the public generally favors increased foot patrol, the opposition
to foot patrol in the police organization is strong. Recognizing the failures and limitations of the status quo is the first step to
better patrol: 911 calls dominate police far more than rapid response impacts
Driving While Black. Full Text — PDF
New York Times, July 30, 2006.
The police officer in me is suspicious of any effort to
quantify a job that is — or at least should be — qualitative.
But the professor in me loves police data on race.
Race is a factor in America and a factor in effective
policing. Racism should never be.
Breaking Rank by Norm Stamper. Full Text — PDF
Law Enforcement News, September, 2005.
Pity poor Norm Stamper. He would have liked nothing more
than to write a book extolling the virtues of community policing
and a greater police focus on domestic violence. A hard-working liberal police officer for 33 years, he rose from San
Diego beat cop to chief of the Seattle Police Department.
Then came the 1999 WTO meeting in Seattle. Massive
protests and riots turned the city into chaos. Chief Stamper
later resigned, admitting that he and his police were woefully
unprepared for the scale of protests. Stamper’s name is now
cursed by both ends of the political spectrum, albeit for
different and often diametrically opposed reasons.
Take the Violence Out of the Drug Trade. Full Text — PDF
Baltimore Sun, August 3, 2004.
The only way to disarm the drug culture is to take the profit
out of street-level drug-dealing. Drug legalization and
regulation are the answer. Why leave the profits to those
who perpetuate violent culture?
Legalizing drugs would not be a silver bullet. But drug
prohibition must be recognized as a good intention gone
terribly wrong. The war on drugs destroys neighborhoods,
enriches drug dealers and promotes a culture ruining the
lives of our cities’ youths. Drug prohibition is a failure. It’s
time to try something else.
Balancing Security and Liberty. Full Text — PDF
The Washington Post, August 2, 2004
The only way to prevent creeping use of implied consent is to
limit the doctrine of plain view. Before searching a person,
the government must choose either plain view or implied
If the government must search without probable cause, let it
search, but only for illegal weapons or bombs. If security
outweighs the Fourth Amendment, the scope of such
searches must be limited to objects representing a clear and
present danger to public safety. Any unrelated suspicious or
illegal objects found must be ignored.
Old-School Cops in a New-School World. Full Text — PDF
The Washington Post, August 5, 2003.
One school of thought -- call it old school -- believes in the
moral righteousness of hitting back.
New-school police believe in cuffing suspects and writing
Though we demand new school behavior from our police,
most police officers are firmly old school. Old-school police
believe that the disrespectful deserve a “good thumping.” It’s
Victims of the War on Drugs. Full Text — PDF
The Washington Post, July 09, 2003.
If the war on drugs were winnable, we would already have
won it. Drug prohibition criminalizes large segments of the
population, even the majority in some areas.
Those at the receiving end of our drug policy know it simply
doesn’t work. People will riot as long as police keep locking
them up without anything getting better.
Separate the problems of drug use from the violence of the
drug trade. Acknowledge that drugs are bad, but don’t
frame drug policy as a moral war against evil.
Afro-Anglo: America’s Core Culture. PDF
National Journal of Sociology. 1995. vol. 9(2).
There exists a Core Culture in American which is shared by all people inasmuch as they are American. This Core Culture is a consolidation of Anglo-American and Afro-American culture. While many authors view the black experience as distinct and separate from the core American experience, this paper argues that American Core Culture is uniquely defined by its Afro-Anglo nature—a blend of both the Afro and the Anglo culture, history, and experience. That Afro-Anglo culture has not been recognized as America’s Core Culture is due both the Eurocentrism of the dominant paradigm of American culture, and the Afrocentrist competing paradigm of a separate black American culture. Afro-Anglo Core Culture recognized the oneness of whites and blacks together as part of the American experience.
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