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Race science and surveillance: police as the new race scientists

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Race science and surveillance: police as the new race scientists

Abstract

This article examines the relationship between race and the urban in the United States through an examination of the role of surveillance – a growing global phenomena in contemporary western cities – and its uses in creating and maintaining boundaries of race, particularly because surveillance of racial and ethnic minority groups tend to be grounded in specific and bounded geographic locations. Using historical evidence and data from the New York Police Department (NYPD) Stop and Frisk program during the 2003–2013 period, this article asks whether or not, strategies of state surveillance of racial and ethnic minority groups should be interpreted as a ‘new’ type of scientific racism given the state’s desire to deploy and its hyper-reliance on technologies to fulfil its surveillance role.
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Social Identities
Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture
ISSN: 1350-4630 (Print) 1363-0296 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/csid20
Race science and surveillance: police as the new
race scientists
Natalie P. Byfield
To cite this article: Natalie P. Byfield (2018): Race science and surveillance: police as the new
race scientists, Social Identities, DOI: 10.1080/13504630.2017.1418599
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/13504630.2017.1418599
Published online: 07 Jan 2018.
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Race science and surveillance: police as the new race scientists
Natalie P. Byfield
Department of Sociology & Anthropology, St. Johns University, Queens, NY, USA
ABSTRACT
This article examines the relationship between race and the urban
in the United States through an examination of the role of
surveillance a growing global phenomena in contemporary
western cities and its uses in creating and maintaining boundaries
of race, particularly because surveillance of racial and ethnic
minority groups tend to be grounded in specific and bounded
geographic locations. Using historical evidence and data from the
New York Police Department (NYPD) Stop and Frisk program during
the 20032013 period, this article asks whether or not, strategies of
state surveillance of racial and ethnic minority groups should be
interpreted as a newtype of scientific racism given the states
desire to deploy and its hyper-reliance on technologies to fulfil its
surveillance role.
ARTICLE HISTORY
Received 20 October 2017
Accepted 8 December 2017
KEYWORDS
Race; crime; race science;
racialization; surveillance;
racial state
Introduction
Over the past two decades in the US, the rash of police killings of unarmed black people
during interactions with police moves one to examine what undergirds policing in the US
(HuffPost, 2014). These killings have occurred throughout the nation, most notably in cities
and metropolitan regions, such as New York City, Los Angeles, Oakland, Ferguson, Balti-
more, Cleveland, Chicago, Houston, Detroit, and New Orleans. In the wake of some of
the recent deaths, social and political pundits and community organizers have talked
about the lack of trust between policing agencies and local communities particularly
low-income neighborhoods comprised primarily of African Americans and Latinos (Presi-
dents Task Force on 21st Century Policing, 2015). Or, they have talked about providing
better training and equipment for surveillance of the police. Many of the narratives
about repairing this trust or providing standardized training and cameras directed at
the police focus on the incidents involving fatalities. But, the issue at hand is far deeper
than one of trust, training, or surveilling the police.
Counter to these narratives are the sustained and decentralized protests of thousands
that have erupted in the areas where the killings have occurred as well as in other regions
of the world where people march in support of the protesters. The common message in
these marches also serves as the name of the movement Black Lives Matter. Policing pol-
icies and practices that determine police-community relationships guide thousands of
day-to-day interactions. Many do not lead to fatalities; they also incorporate racial
© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
CONTACT Natalie P. Byfield byfieldn@stjohns.edu
SOCIAL IDENTITIES, 2018
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profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the criminal justice system. But, there is a
greater likelihood of fatality when police interact with a person of color, specifically a black
person. Consequently, the exigencies of the state shaping those policies and practices
require examination.
The nature of the historic role of policing in the US i.e. social/racial boundary
enforcers makes policing interactions with people of color problematic even without
the existence of loss of life. This occurs because the United States, like all modern
states, exists as a racial state (Goldberg, 2002). That means ‘… race and nation are
defined in terms of each other in the interests of producing the picture of a coherent (Euro-
pean/white) populace in the face of potentially divisive heterogeneity(Goldberg, 2002,
p. 10). Such states use race to determine who is included or excluded from the power
of the rights of citizen; these states require for their existence the very construction of
racial categories and the enforcement of the boundaries around those categories. (Gold-
berg, 2002, p. 10). As such, surveillance, that is, racial surveillance exists as an integral part
of the ontology of racial states (Browne, 2015). While surveillance is an organic element of
all modern states for bureaucratic management of the seemingly mundane, such as the
census,
1
and for the need to control some behaviors, such as those defined as criminal
acts’–the incorporation of the socially constructed phenomenon of race into state surveil-
lance practices will likely transform our understanding of even the most basic consider-
ations about the nature of the state. Since this transformation in our thinking is just
now, through the work of Browne (2015), being incorporated into our awareness of
how surveillance can and should be defined in a racial state and according to Goldberg
(2002), all modern states are racial states it behooves us to reassess our understandings
of the history of policing in a racial state like the US and the implications for how new
forms of policing unfolding in our era take up the task of racialized surveillance. We
need to examine how racism and antiblackness undergird and sustain the intersecting
surveillances of our present order(Browne, 2015, p. 9).
Exigencies of a racial state and the policing of blacks
In a racial state, the social order traditionally enforced by policing is not based simply
on a communitysnorms of propriety
2
about crimes like murder, rape, and theft. Poli-
cing policies and practices enforce a social order that is also the racial order. Thus some
crimes in racial states are not violations of norms of propriety; instead they are viola-
tions of the racial order on which the state is based. I refer to those as existential
crimes, e.g. a violation of an anti-miscegenation law in the nineteenth century or a
person of color overstaying their visa in the US in the early twenty-first century.
Some crimes can violate both norms of proprietyand the states existence as a
racial state, e.g. a runaway slave in the nineteenth century commits an existential
crime by depriving his/her ownerof their value while simultaneously assuming the
rights of a free person where those rights do not exist for the enslaved. To address exis-
tential violations, the US racial state incorporates in various domains of the state laws,
procedures, and practices that surveil peoplesinteractions for the purpose of keeping
whiteness dominant and blackness subordinate. An analysis of the history of policing in
the US highlights the fervor with which the state has managed threats against the
racial order existential crimes.
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Some criminology scholars and law enforcement professionals have periodized the
history of policing into three to five eras (Cole, Smith, & DeJong, 2015; Hooper, 2014).
3
It is important to assess these epochs within the context of the racial state and the
types of surveillance via laws and policing policies and practices that would be required
to support such a state. In the first period, the colonial-early republic era, policing operated
as a collective responsibility of community members. It came in the form of citizen-watch-
men in the North (Cole et al., 2015) and citizen-slave patroller in the South, whose main
functions were the protection of Europeans and their claimsto property land stolen
from Native Americans and Africans held in bondage (Spruill, 2016).
Criminologists (Cole et al., 2015) timed the second policing epoch as roughly the
years between 1840 and 1920; it is referred to as the political era. This period is his-
torically notable: After slavery the Great Migrationof over one million blacks, fleeing
re-enslavementand white militias, resettled in northern urban areas, the Midwest,
and the west. After 1890, social scientists using statistics gathered from the census, con-
structed narratives around the innateness of criminality in blacks (Muhammad, 2010).
This period also incorporated waves of European migrants, who were not immediately
accepted as white.
In the south, during this era of policing, slave patrols continued until slaverys abolition;
after slavery, slave patrols morphed into policing forces and repressive militias like the
Ku Klux Klan (Franklin, 1980; Spruill, 2016). In northern cities, day-to-day decision-
making of police operations, such as, recruitment of officers and policing priorities were
dictated by political bosses to protect their votersinterests (Cole et al., 2015; Johnson,
2003; Muhammad, 2010). These political leaders typically represented the white ethnic
group the Irish that elected them to protect the groups interests in the competition
for jobs and housing (access to space and place/neighborhoods), as well as the ability
to act outside the law with impunity (Johnson, 2003). In New York City, southern black
migrants and recent European migrants experienced the type of policing that disadvan-
tage them in those arenas of competition. This inter-racial and inter-ethnic competition
for resources also marked this period in policing with riots, such as the Tenderloin Riot
of 1900, the Hoe Riotof 1902, and the Battle of San Juan Hillin 1905 (Johnson,
2003).
4
Police joined the white mobs or enlisted them in the brutalizing of blacks and
recent European immigrants, such as Italians and Jews that recently migrated who
were treated as a racial in-between(Roediger, 2005). This racialized the police brutality
and made racialized othersand/or the lower-economic classes targets for police-based
violence (Johnson, 2003; Muhammad, 2010).
During the third period of policing, which is referred to as the professional eraand runs
from 1920 to 1970, criminology scholars contend that policing policies and practices were
professionalized, i.e. removed from the control of the political bosses (Cole et al., 2015).
This created within the state bureaucracy the rationalizations of the main functions of poli-
cing crime prevention, law enforcement, order maintenance, and community services
to more efficiently address norms-of-propriety crimes and existential crimes. Fulfillment of
this professionalization entailed more standardized training; new technologies, such as,
motorcycle units, handwriting analysis, and fingerprinting; and hiring practices supposedly
based on merit (Cole et al., 2015). The mid to latter part of this period would see more
involvement from the federal government in spending in policing. This represented a
SOCIAL IDENTITIES 3
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significant turn from the historical roots of American policing, which originally was locally
organized and directed.
However, from the early days of this period, professionalization of policing meant a
hyper-policing of Black communities (Muhammad, 2010). This over-surveillanceof
blacks simply created excessive arrest activityby the late 1920s (Muhammad, 2010,
p. 249). Commensurate with this over-surveillanceof blacks was the under-policing or
failure to police white mob violence against blacks and for the police to sometimes
assist in this mob violence (Muhammad, 2010, p. 233). By the end of this era in policing,
it was clear that bureaucratic rationalizations that (replaced) personalized power of
government officials with codified, standardized, and formalized authoritydid not
remediate discriminatory policing practices (Murakawa, 2014, p. 11).
African Americans continued to suffer from racial discrimination at the hands of the
police and intense police violence. The end of this policing era, the mid-to-late-1960s,
was marked by 163 uprisings in large and small urban areas. A commission organized
by President Johnson to study the unrest known as the Kerner Commission reported
that white racism and its manifestation in police violence against blacks were the central
causes of the uprisings (US Riot Commission Report, 1968). The report also criticized as
overreactionthe police/state violent response to blacks during the uprisings (US Riot
Commission Report, 1968). Others argued that the response, which accounted for most
of the deaths in the uprisings, was retaliatory(Geary, 2016). By the end of this era,
while the federal government made these attempts to address white mob violence, it
also declared crime in black communities a national concern (Murakawa, 2014).
Critiques of the professional eraof policing included the claim that police professiona-
lization led to them becoming closed bureaucracies, isolated to the public, and unrespon-
sive to the demands of racial justice(Walker, 2015, p. 539). Additionally,
professionalization had little impact on the crime-fighting outcomes. Thus the subsequent
era, which began with federal wars against crime and drugs, also incorporated narratives
about community input into the mechanism of policing, e.g. Civilian Complaint Review
Boards (CCRB). The new period, referred to as the community policing era, was said to
represent a move away from crime fighting and instead focus on keeping order and pro-
viding services to the community(Cole et al., 2015). At issue is the deployment of order
maintenance policing in a racial state that requires the surveillance of racial boundaries
and the subordination and/or exclusion of blackness.
In 1982, criminologists George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson penned their ideas about
community policing and developed what they called the Broken Windowstheory of poli-
cing. The concepts behind Broken Windowspolicing, according to Kelling and Wilson
(1982), separated the idea of safetyfrom the concept of the crime rate; and separated
at the community-level disorderfrom the concept of the the crime rate. Emphasis
would be placed on order maintenance (as opposed to law enforcement) because
minor crimes were seen as a main contributor to disorder, which would lead to the event-
ual breakdown of the community. According to Kelling and Wilson (1982), having
untendedminor crimes would identify an area as vulnerable to criminal invasion,
which would lead to urban decay because informal control mechanisms of the commu-
nityare broken down (Kelling & Wilson, 1982, pp. 48). Under community policing,
more specifically broken windows policing, the New York Police Department (NYPD)
deployed Stop, Question, and Frisk policies and the aggressive practices of the elite
4N. P. BYFIELD
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Street Crime Unit. These translated again into the hyper-policing of black communities,
increased arrests rates, and more killings of blacks in police interactions, e.g. Amadou
Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Akai Gurley, Eric Garner, Kimani Gray, Ramarley Graham,
Shem Walker, and Sean Bell, in New York City.
Many criminologists and law enforcement professionals contend that the period of
community policing continues. However, many acknowledge an emergent period the
era of intelligence-led policing that focuses on the notions of security and risk manage-
ment (Cole et al., 2015; Hooper, 2014). Since the 9/11 attacks on the US, there has been
a shift in funding priorities in policing to the new areas of focus Muslims, immigrants,
and terrorism in this developing era. Zedner (2007) notes that we are on the cusp of
a shift from a post- to a pre-crime society(p. 262). She identifies the features of a pre-
crime society as follows: In a pre-crime society, there is calculation, risk and uncertainty,
surveillance, precaution, prudentialism, moral hazard, prevention and, arching over all
these, there is the pursuit of security(Zedner, 2007, p. 262).
Much about the role of policing is hidden by ideologies that reflect how crime, crime
fighting, and crime prevention are rationalized within the underlying socio-economic
and political system of a racial state. This is less a reference to traditional Marxist analysis
that identifies the role of the police in a capitalist system as that of protector of private
property (Platt, 1982). Rather the statement references the symbiotic relationships
between the transformation in crime fighting and crime prevention policies and practices,
the government resources devoted to the fulfillment of these policies, and the concomi-
tant transformation in the socio-economic and political system as a result of these new
policies and their funding streams and the significance of all this to the maintenance of
the racial state.
In addressing police killings of blacks, the mainstream discourses around police-com-
munity problems that focus on legitimacy/trust between police and communities, standar-
dized police training, and more surveillance of police miss the mark if they do not
incorporate the significance of the requirements of the racial state. The US state, which
has historically used a system of laws, rules, and practices to exclude from the mainstream
those perceived as a threat to the state, organized belonging and/or citizenship around
membership in the white racial category. Thus racism and racialized surveillance remain
most significant to discussions about policing.
Racialized surveillance and the state
Contemporary scholars have identified in a racial state, racialization and/or other forms of
biopower
5
-based practices carried out by the state as some of the primary goals of surveil-
lance in a capitalist racial state (Browne, 2015; Kundnani and Kumar, 2015; Walby & Anais,
2015). Identifying the history of the significance of these goals may reveal contemporary
incarnations of the sociogenic principle, that is, the turning of a social construct into one
that appears to be biological. These revelations can help us to understand the future oper-
ations of racialized surveillance in a racial state.
Racialized surveillance is an intrinsic component of the racial state. Like all forms of sur-
veillance, it relies on techniques and social policies and processes that create a mesh to
make the invisible visible, collect data on the observed for the purpose of classification,
and engage in all this for the purpose of social control (Browne, 2015; Foucault, 1995;
SOCIAL IDENTITIES 5
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Lyon, 2007; Marx, 1988). A byproduct of surveillance is the aggrandizement and accumu-
lation of power of the watchers over the watched (Browne, 2015; Foucault, 1995; Lyon,
2007; Marx, 1988). In the case of the US racial state, blackness (functions) as a key site
through which surveillance is practiced, narrated, and enacted(Browne, 2015, p. 9). In
other words, racialized surveillance takes the form of a panoptic white gazethat is con-
structed in the techniques and social policies and processes used for surveillance that
divide the society into racial groupings of those with access to the power and benefits
of full state membership and those excluded (Browne, 2015).
Among scholars of race, colonialism, and post-colonialism there is little dispute that the
founders of the US envisioned the nation as a racial state, despite the articulation of ideals
about equality for all men. However, studies of the state, which tend to be focused within
three schools of thought autonomous state, pluralism, neo-Marxism –’…often theor-
etically disengage the inner workings of the state apparatusfrom the processes involved
with the social construction of race both historically and contemporarily (Bracey II, 2015,
pp. 554557). In the context of the US, this research tends to naturalize both the phenom-
ena of race and whiteness. Likewise, scholars of race, when theorizing about race and the
state sometimes incorporate those schools of thought about the state, but argues Bracey II
(2015) they too tend to naturalize the phenomena of race and whiteness. Therein lies the
problem. Scholars of raceand of race and the statehave failed to fully theorize the sig-
nificance of the historical and contemporary mechanisms that have been used within the
racial state to create and/or monitor racial boundaries.
Browne (2015) argues that a white gaze
6
has been central to this boundary mainten-
ance; and it should be theorized as surveillance. Bracey IIs(2015) critiques of theories of
race and the state and Brownes(2015) conceptualization of surveillance in a racial state
are used here to theorize racialized surveillance as an organic function of the racial
state that is deployed via legislation, social practices, and technologies that use the
white gazeto maintain the state as a white racial space(Anderson, 2015) that constructs
and reproduces racial categories and hierarchies. These laws, practices, and technologies
create existential norms, thus violations of these norms represent existential crimes in a
white racial state. Anderson (2015) notes that the white space is a perceptual category
that exists as a situation that reinforces a normative sensibility in settings in which
black people are typically absent, not expected, or marginalized when present(p. 10).
This article seeks to avoid previous limitations in the work of scholars of the state and
scholars of race and the state by examining how boundaries of belonging and/or citizen-
ship have been and continue to be formed via the various mechanisms of racialized sur-
veillance. In so doing it attempts to explain how the US state historically and
contemporarily reproduced itself as a racial state that favored its tyrannical roots as
opposed to its democratic ideals. As such, whiteness white nationalism operates as
an inherent part of the US tyrannical beginnings (Goldberg, 2002; Anderson, 2006).
Bracey II (2015) seeks to address this problem of the normalization of the phenomena of
race and whiteness by offering the approach used by scholars in Critical Race Theory (CRT).
Because CRT delineates the social mechanisms used within the legal system to maintain
white supremacy historically and contemporarily, Bracey II (2015) argues that the modes
of analyses used within CRT to assess the legal system can be expanded to the state. In
this regard, he suggests the following:
6N. P. BYFIELD
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Critical race theorists reveal the states institutionalized whiteness by documenting every
element of white institutional space initial racial exclusion, white-privileging demographics
and power distribution, white-based institutional logics and cultural practices, signifiers and
metrics that mask white power and normalize whiteness in the historical formation and con-
temporary operation of the state. (Bracey II, 2015, p. 561)
Brownes(2015) research suggests that the surveillance of racial boundaries with
this white gazemaintains the state as a white space. Bracey IIs(2015) and Brownes
(2015) work combined identify the elements of the state that should be examined to
understand where and how the white gazehas been deployed to effectuate racialized
surveillance.
During the colonial era and early republic period, the white gazedeployed in the racia-
lized surveillance created a foundation administratively and disciplinarily based on the
elements of white institutional space identified by Bracey II (2015), initial racial exclusion,
white-privileging demographics and power distribution(p. 561). The disciplinary foun-
dation was evidenced through a system of private/community policing that reinforced
(1) the tyrannical systems of slavery and colonialism; (2) the common acceptance
among Europeans that they would even with the use of lethal force privilege them-
selves and not Native Americans in property rights; and (3) the racist ideologies that
emerged from the slave trade, race-based slavery, and European-Native American inter-
actions which permeated all other institutions and practices that were not immediately
a part of slavery or the forced removal of Native Americans from their land. This white
gazewas so successful that whether or not blacks occurred in large numbers in an
area, such as New England or the Midwest, people understood that a hierarchical racial
order existed. Thus the policing of blacks and Native American in those regions was no
less brutal.
To solidify the republic, the white gazehad to be deployed administratively. This was
evidenced in the early republics decision to change the status of the indentured Euro-
pean, who fought in the Revolutionary War, to that of free or independent person
7
.
These people formed part of the group of Europeans, who become whitepeople.
8
This
whiteness, which represents social distance from the enslaved; would be further codified
via administrative surveillance. Browne (2015) notes,
In the United States, racial nomenclature as a form of population management was made offi-
cial with the taking of the first federal census in 1790, which asked questions regarding the
number of free white males, free white females, other free people, and slaves in a household.
(p. 56)
Moving forward, the state conscientiously enforced the social distance between black
and white using white-based institutional logics and cultural practices(Bracey II, 2015,
p. 561). Including in those cultural practices was a role for whites within and outside
the state, surveillor of racial boundaries, or partitioner of the population for discipline
and control. Although enslaved blacks fought on the side of the colonists/Patriots
during the Revolutionary War, they were neither rewarded with freedom, nor, the pre-
sumed libertytransferred to whites(Allen, 1997). Instead the new Congress passed the
FugitiveSlave Act of 1793, ensuring slave owners the right to recover runaways. As
there wasno official police force, this essentially deputized all whites to maintain racial
boundaries.Two other incarnations of a fugitive slave law would emerge; the last came
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shortly beforethe Civil War in 1857 (1857) with the Dred Scott decision, which determined
that blacks had norights which the white man was bound to respect(US Supreme Court).
Slavery ended during the political eraof policing. The Black Codes instituted after slavery
operated as a surveillance mechanism. Black Codes regulated things such as vagrancy, the
right to quit a job, the right to move freely in the society (Franklin, 1980). Breaking these laws
often led to incarceration; these offenses were both norms-of-propriety violations and exis-
tential crimes. Once incarcerated, blacks were then leased out by the state to work with
whites that had access to capital to rebuild after the war (Du Bois, 1901/2002). In the immedi-
ate post-war period southern states were making a profit from the leasing of these so-called
convicts(Du Bois, 1901/2002). In addition, the convict-lease system created within the
system of administrative surveillance high rates of incarceration for blacks.
Administrative surveillance via the 1890 census which had a historic range of cat-
egories because it was the first to be machine tabulated would play an important role
in the entrenchment of white-based institutional logics and cultural practices. The data
revealed disproportionately high rates of crime and incarceration of blacks. Racist social
scientist used this data to construct narratives about innate black criminality (Muhammad,
2010). These researchers also ignored racially based oppressive policing practices in the
north and south during the political era of policing that was in part responsible for the dis-
proportionately high rates of crime and incarceration of blacks (Du Bois, 1899/2007).
Inter-racial and inter-ethnic strife marked the political and professional eras of poli-
cing as some whites in the north and south fought for control of state apparatuses as
a way to intensify white ethnic power and control jobs and space/geographic locations.
One dominant white-based institutional logic permeated state apparatuses by the early
twentieth century and continues to the present; i.e. blacks represent a criminal class that
should be feared (Muhammad, 2010). Other white-based institutional logics emerged in
state apparatuses by mid twentieth century; e.g. white mob violence and police violence
against African Americans could be addressed administratively through a more profes-
sionalizedpolice force (Murakawa, 2014,p.10).Murakawa(2014) views the calls for law
and order that first came from liberals who sought administrative means to end struc-
tural violence against blacks in the 1940s and 1950s as woefully inadequate because
the liberals interpreted individual bias as the cause of this structural violence. They
never challenged the white gaze (Murakawa, 2014). This was some of the early signs
of the masking of white powerin state operations that Bracey II (2015)mentions.The
remedial laws and policies of the 1940s and 1950s maintained white power and auth-
ority and never challenged the continuing racialized surveillance of the so-called
black criminal classes. The entrenchment of these logics led to the conjoined policy
positions in the US federal government, i.e. remedies for social/racial injustices had to
bematchedbyanti-crimemeasurestargetedatblacks.TheraceproblemintheUS
was turned into a crime problem (Murakawa, 2014).
Police violence against African Americans and any group viewed as a threat to the state
contributed to this structural violence; the Kerner Commission would eventually blame
police violence for the 1960s urban uprisings (US Riot Commission Report, 1968). While
the Kerner report was atypical in its unmasking of white racism in state operations, the
commission played a historic role in the unleashing of a new era of racialized surveillance
in the United States (US Riot Commission Report, 1968). Marx (1988) notes the following:
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(T)he Kerner Commission (1968) called on cities to develop intelligence units
that would use undercover police personnel and informants to learn about actual or potential
civil disorders. (p. 6)
The Kerner Commission was not the only state entity recommending undercover surveillance
as a means for increasing social control, i.e. addressing the civil disorders that emerged in the
late 1960s (Marx, 1988,p.6).Marxs(1988) study, titled Undercover:Police surveillance in America,
is one of the early studies in traditional surveillance research. It documents the shift in the type
of surveillance used in policing that accompanies this period of civil unrest. Marx (1988)notes
that this new surveillancedoes not require the execution of a crime; uses covert practices, has
redrawn the relationship between the individual and the state vis-à-vis the states and individ-
ualsrights, incorporates new technological developments in size and type of audio and video
equipment available, incorporates preventive operations, allows for disruption and inltration,
can operate without a specic target/subject, and allows for the sharing intelligence between
agencies. While the new surveillance techniques were deployed to seek out norms-of-propriety
crimes, they were also used to pursue seeming existential threats against the state, such as
race-based protest movements whose activities drew the attention of state authorities, e.g.
the FBIs notorious Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) (Marx, 1988). Given the
history of racialized surveillance in the US and in policing specically, what were the impli-
cations for policing with the rise of this new surveillance?
Broken windows policing: racialized surveillance in a racial state
Ironically, the new surveillanceidentified by Marx (1988) ushered in the era of
community policing, a period supposedly defined by more community input into policing
practices. In New York City, the Koch Administration, which began in 1978, dominated city
politics until 1990. During that time, crime particularly violations of norms-of-propriety
soared. And, structural violence continued at high rates. There were regular occurrences of
controversial cases of white police shooting young black men (Johnson, 2003, p. 282). In
1983, Congressional hearing was held in the city to address police brutality and abuse of
power. Fifty-two of the 98 cases raised in the hearings occurred during the first five years
of the Koch Administration; those 52 incidents resulted in 25 deaths. (Byfield, 2014, p. 82).
In only one case was criminality found; and a judge acquitted that officer. To address the
police violence, communities of color demanded an all-civilian CCRB. This demand was ful-
filled in 1993 under the Administration of David Dinkins; he succeeded Koch and has been
the only African American ever elected mayor in New York.
Dinkins served one term and was replaced by the politically conservative Rudolph Giu-
liani, who used white-based institutional logic when he campaigned on a law and order
platform to treat blacks as a criminal class and positioned Dinkins as catering to lawless
blacks. Although sharp reductions in crime began under the Dinkins Administration,
once in office, Giuliani targeted quality of lifecrimes such as, prostitution, rowdy
teens, squeegee men, and panhandlers using the broken windows theory.
Giuliani and his successor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg aggressively deployed Stop, Ques-
tion, and Frisk as a primary tool in order maintenance policing. These stops are representa-
tive of the new surveillanceafter Kerner. The stops are largely investigatory, meaning they
were made not because the police viewed an infraction, or have a target in mind, but
SOCIAL IDENTITIES 9
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because the police thought an infraction could be committed or that a particular geographic
location is a frequent site for violations (Epp, Maynard-Moody, & Haider-Markel, 2014). Over
the course of the Bloomberg administration the stops increased 448% with about 5 million
pedestrian stops.
9
This proactive policing strategy targeted lower-income, predominantly
Black and Latino communities for hyper-policing. It operated like a type of racialized surveil-
lance and that also signified those areas as dangerous further isolating them as opposed to
reclaiming them as public spaces for its residents. These areas consequently experienced
territorial stigmatization(Wacquant, 2016, p. 1082).
Because crime decreased dramatically during the use of this practice, broken windows
theory has been hailed a success in many quarters and transplanted internationally (Har-
court, 2001, p. 57). Journalists, academics, policy makers, and many in the general public
believe that broken windows theory has been proven(Harcourt, 2001, p. 57). However, in
a review of two main studies claiming to prove the success of order maintenance policing
in reducing crime, Harcourt (2001) finds that there is no good evidence to support the
broken windows theory(p. 7). In his replication of earlier studies, Harcourt (2001) did
not find a statistically significant relationship between disorder and crime (p. 7). In a chal-
lenge to Kelling and Wilson (1982), Lipsitz argues:
It is not the windows that have been broken, but rather the promises of full citizenship and
social membership allegedly guaranteed by the 1866 and 1964 Civil Rights Acts; the Thir-
teenth Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution; and the 1968 Fair Housin-
gAct. (Lipsitz 2016, p. 124)
Foundations of predictive policing
The emergent epoch of policing is referred to by a variety of labels that take into account secur-
ity, intelligence, risk management, and pre-crime; it has been shaped by the exigencies of the
post-9/11 period. This burgeoning era is said to incorporate Intelligence-led policing. The tech-
nologies available have encouraged law enforcement professionals to think that they can enact
predictive policing. The groundwork for policing practices based on the idea that one can know
with some certitude where to deploy resources was likely laid with Stop and Frisk.
While NYPD officials have not presented SQF as a type of predictive policing, its concep-
tual underpinnings provide the groundwork for predictive analytics. An early study of stop
and frisk practices conducted by the office of the State Attorney General under Eliot Spitzer
noted that stops were viewed as proactive
10
police interventions (New York State Office of
the Attorney General, 1999, p. 59). This pre-emptive practice fits the mode of the new sur-
veillance and also allows for technologies that entail a predictive capacity (Marx, 2005). The
NYPD collected data on millions of police stops in the SQF program. The stops were
recorded on a form called UF-250 and included data on: sex, race, DOB, age, height,
weight, hair color, eye color, build, other features such as scars and tattoos, and nicknames.
The police have such data on thousands of blacks and Latinos, mostly men, who were not
charged with a crime. The New York Civil Liberties Union (2012)noted:
Young black and Latino men were the targets of a hugely disproportionate number of stops.
Though they accounted for only 4.7 percent of the citys population, black and Latino males
between the ages of 14 and 24 accounted for 41 percent of stops in 2011, the year with
the highest rate of stops. Nearly 90 percent of young black and Latino men stopped were
innocent. (p. 2)
10 N. P. BYFIELD
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CompStat, which refers to the system of electronic computer mapping of weekly policing
statistics within precincts and larger police commands, provided the foundation for order
maintenance policing, both tactically and administratively. It has been used to gather and
analyze policing statistics to make decisions about deployment of resources. With the
advancement of the digital age, policing technologies have encouraged people to
describe its capabilities as predictive, meaning that with the use of data mining, i.e.
using algorithms to extract patterns from large amounts of data gathered in the daily
work of policing, policing agencies think they can learn patterns in the occurrence of
crime and use those patterns in decision-making to prevent crime and eliminate bias.
One fallacy with this approach is that digital data being used in the predictive policing
analysis is based on previous policing patterns. So the likely patterns you will get are
really patterns about racialized forms of surveillance. An even more pernicious and sinister
problem with this approach is that we know poor black and Latino communities are over-
policed. Thus predictiveapproach to policing will likely serve to further associate black-
ness with criminality, again with the use of junk science, similar to the late nineteenth
century.
Race science got a boost from the social scientific imperativeof the late nineteenth and
early twentieth century imperativeto save the nation by measuring black inferiority by
any sign of African American failure to dominate or to lead or even to survive in modern
society. (Muhammad, 2010)
Essentially CompStat operates as a surveillance system that sits simultaneously
between the community and the officer and the officer and police management. It
serves as a quantitative police performance measurement program (Bronstein, 2015,
547). Post-CompStat, police officers are judged by the numbersthey bring in the
quantity of their enforcement, activity(Bronstein, 2015, 564). CompStat has encour-
aged the taylorizing of policing and diminished the amount of discretion available to
officers.Eppetal.(2014) noted a relationship between police use of discretion and
racial bias. The likelihood exists that with the new analytic technologies, police manage-
ment will continue seeking out ways to reduce discretion because that allows manage-
ment greater opportunity to discount biases or complaints of biases, like race. In other
words, if CompStat is a precursor to further data analytics in policing, it increases the
likelihood that state authorities will treat the process of generating information with
policing data and analytics used in policing as a knowledge-creation enterprise
science.
What are the implications of this given the tendency of surveillance to divide/ individ-
uate? Like traditional forms of surveillance, SQF divides and makes the invisible visible.
What distinctions have the SQF practices made visible or created? An analysis of the inves-
tigatorystops under Bloomberg notes an ethnic disparity in patrols among black neigh-
borhoods. Examining the NYPD data of over five million stopsunder the Bloomberg
Administration, it is clear that people living in or traveling through predominantly black
precincts that are immigrant communities are stopped at less frequent rates than
people in predominantly black precinct where the population is largely native-born
blacks. Does this represent a new type of population genomics sociogenic use of race
by the government?
SOCIAL IDENTITIES 11
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Figures 1 and 2on the next page display investigatorystops during the Bloomberg
administration in five police precincts in Brooklyn, New York. They reveal patterns in inves-
tigatorystops for the following precincts: the 67, which is in East Flatbush and is predo-
minantly Caribbean; the 70, also in Flatbush and is largely Caribbean; the 73, located in
Brownville is a largely native-born black community; and the 75, situated in East New York,
and also consists mainly of native-born blacks. Figures 2 includes a fifth precinct, the 83, in
Bushwick, (also in Brooklyn) and which had the largest increase in immigrant residents
during the last census intake in 2010. The largest group of immigrants moving to Bushwick
came from the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.
Figure 1. Police stops by Precinct by year. Precent 67East Flatbush, Precinct 70Flatbush, Precinct
73Brownsville, Precinct 75East New York, Precinct 83Bushwick.
Figure 2. Police stops by Precinct by year.
12 N. P. BYFIELD
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Du Bois (2007) noted that crime is likely to be higher in neighborhoods that are experi-
encing an influx of immigrants, as evidenced in Philadelphia with the wave of blacks
migrating from the south and the immigration of southern and eastern Europeans.
However, Figure 2 shows that the rates of investigatorystops in the 83 Precinct, this bur-
geoning immigrant area, more closely mirrors stops in Caribbean communities as opposed
to native-born black communities. In this age of the hyper-policing of nation-state bound-
aries, the disparities in stops between native-born and Caribbean-born blacks appear to be
counter-intuitive.
Early use of predictive policing
Predictive policing, has been defined as taking data from disparate sources, analyzing
them and then using the results to anticipate, prevent and respond more effectively to
future crime. Predictive policing entails becoming less reactive(Pearsall, 2010). The soft-
ware of PredPol, one of the first companies to create the algorithmic and mapping soft-
ware to do this work, is being used in almost 60 police departments across the US, the
biggest of which are Los Angeles and Atlanta. (Huet, 2015).
11
On its website, PredPol
states: PredPol® uses artificial intelligence to help you prevent crime by predicting
when and where crime is most likely to occur, allowing you to optimize patrol resources
and measure effectiveness(http://www.predpol.com/).
The use of this technology in our networked world harkens to a new day in the deploy-
ment of biometrics in governmentality.
12
Biometrics recording for analysis elements of
the body has historically been used as a technology in the surveillance of black mobi-
lities and of black stabilities and containment(Browne, 2015, pp. 2526). Foucault (2009)
defines a core element of governmentality as follows:
(T)he ensemble formed by institutions, procedures, analyses and reflections, calculations, and
tactics that allow the exercise of this very specific, albeit very complex, power that has the
population as its target, political economy as its major form of knowledge, and apparatuses
of security as its essential technical instrument. (p. 144)
How will race and other biometric markers be mixed together with other elements of life,
such as location or income, and riven into the features of governmentality to produce the
contemporary racial state? Much of the protections that guard against abuse of such tech-
nologies that collect data in this networked world exist primarily in the realm of consumer
markets and are contextualized as consumer privacy rights (Nissenbaum, 2015); policing
exists in a different social context.
As such, the human rights consequences for the use of this technology in policing, par-
ticularly vis-à-vis racialized surveillance, exist in the arena of increased power of the state in
its ability to exert control over its entire population and/or the specific segments of the
population it chooses to target. Against these groups, the state will have increased
power over substantive rights, such as the rights to association, movement, Fourth
Amendment privacy rights, and the presumption of innocence. The use of this technology
can be expected to seriously transform what it means to live in a racial state organized
around a carceral system constructed from ideologies of crime, some of which are existen-
tial in nature.
SOCIAL IDENTITIES 13
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Notes
1. In the context of a racial state, the census is anything but mundane. From the first census in
1790, people those free and in bondage, and regarded as nonperson were classified in the
census by racial category, labor status, and gender, e.g. free white male.
2. Term borrowed from Murji (2009) to mean here norms based on social bonds common in all
societies and not defining of a society, such as a bond based on an element particular to a
society. See
3. Many scholars and law enforcement practitioners do not acknowledge five periods: They do
not count the colonial or early republic era and begin the count at the 1840s with the for-
mation of the first forces that paid people full-time to do policing, e.g. the NYPD. They also
do not count the period I identify as the fifth, for many still consider policing to be operating
in the community policing era.I share the contention of those that an era, based on infor-
mation technology revolution and the post 9/11 practices, is emergent (Hooper, 2014; Cole
et al., 2015).
4. The Draft Riots of 1863 also occurred during this period of policing. They represented days
of violent eruptions white Irish working class New Yorkers protesting the federal
government draft for the Civil War. During this resistance, rioters burned down a police
station house. This violence included white mob and union worker-led attacks on black
New Yorkers.
5. Borrowed from Foucault to mean state mechanisms focused on individual bodies and popu-
lations to arrange outcomes that serve the interest of the state (2009, p. 16).
6. Browne (2015) theorizes this as white supremacy. My reading of her work does not separate
white supremacy from white nationalism.
7. Indentured servants, who fought in the Revolutionary War on the side of the colonial govern-
ment, earned their freedom. See Roediger (1999).
8. The construction of the term white represents a major departure from the use of the term race
to reference a nation or ethnic group.
9. A court declared as unconstitutional the SQF stops as practiced under the Bloomberg
Administration.
10. Emphasis mine.
11. Although 60 of the 18,000 police departments across the U.S. use predictive policing, it is in
operation in some major cities. In addition, it was field tested in New York City during the
summer of 2015. See Black (2016). New York Citys policing practices have national and inter-
national influence.
12. I use the first of the three elements of Foucaults meaning of governmentality. (2009, p. 144).
Disclosure statement
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.
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... This drive to attain the unattainable mobilises 'high-tech surveillance systems which mine data accumulated about the past to identify future threats' (Graham, 2011, p. xii). As such, the intense monitoring of race is part of a significant shift in policing towards conducting risk analyses, forecasts and other forms of profiling (see Byfield, 2019;Kundnani & Kumar, 2015;Sharma & Nijjar, 2018). For instance, the police's racialised wars on 'gang' crime and 'terrorism' both take innocuous aspects of everyday life (including residency, family circumstances, economic status, cultural and religious identification, political activism) as abnormal signifiers of future collective criminality and terrorist violence. ...
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... Browne (2015) advances the concept of racialized surveillance that puts the field of surveillance in conversation with imperialist projects such as the colonization of Indigenous peoples and the transatlantic slave trade. In her seminal book Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness, Browne (2015) illustrates the continuity and continued surveillance of blackness, which has never been neutral, but rather specific and targeted, created to facilitate racialized social control (see also Byfield, 2019). Thus, Browne refers to racializing surveillance as "a technology of social control where surveillance practices, policies, and performances concern the production of norms pertaining to race and exercise a power to define what is in or out of place" (p. ...
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... Using this language in the Diversity and Inclusion value, as well as in the mission statement, further marginalizes and belittles the lived experiences of underrepresented individuals. Moreover, there is growing evidence demonstrating that "all" are not well served within broader context of the U.S. criminal justice system, given well-documented issues of bias, structural racism, and white privilege [16][17][18][19][20][21]. Any value statement that addresses diversity and inclusion should explicitly recognize the inequities, racism, and biases that hinder the inclusion of underrepresented individuals and offer aspirations (i.e., actionable goals) to remedy such deeply embedded structures maintained by the status quo and adherence to meritocratic processes. ...
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•We call for revisions to the current AAFS vision, mission, and values statements.•Truly aspirational statements will provide guiding principles for forensic scientists.•Revisions should meaningfully engage with issues of diversity and equity.•Our goal of pursuing justice should also extend to our practitioner community.•We envision AAFS committees of diverse membership making positive changes to the statements.
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