Day 1

January 11th, 2019, 2-3:30pm Eastern

Who gets policed? Why? How?

Police Interactions with Youth at Risk: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Honduras

Abstract: Gang-driven violence in Central America has imposed high costs on local populations. Despite the scope of the problem, there is little convincing evidence of what works to reduce violence in the region and, in particular, whether police-led interventions can change perceptions in ways that might cripple gangs’ abilities to recruit young people. This paper presents experimental evidence on the effectiveness of a 56- hour violence prevention program, provided by the Honduran National Police to at-risk adolescents (aged 13-18). Out of 164 classrooms in nine schools, 80 were randomly selected to receive the violence prevention program and 84 selected into the control group. Results consistently show few changes in attitudes among students in classrooms that received the program. These findings suggest that in-school pedagogical interventions directed at a broad and heterogeneous group of adolescents may be less effective compared to targeted interventions for young people that can be accurately identified at risk for gang recruitment.

Elective Enforcement: The Politics of Local Immigration Policing

Abstract: The last two decades have seen a pronounced shift in the focus of American immigration law from patrolling the nation’s border to policing its interior. This development has involved local law enforcement agents gaining powers previously held centrally and exclusively by the federal executive. Yet neither the payoffs to the president from this regime nor localities’ incentives to participate in it are explained by the current scholarship on immigration or federalism. This paper develops a theoretical framework for analyzing intergovernmental policymaking in a federated system. An empirical test using the 287(g) program highlights the model’s central trade-offs. By deputizing local officers with the powers of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, 287(g) induced a dramatic increase in immigration enforcement at almost no federal expense. But the localities that selected into the program wielded their newfound agency differently from their federal counterparts, shifting the focus of policing efforts from felonies to traffic offenses and misdemeanor drug possession. I further present evidence that these decisions were driven by electoral politics, in particular accountability to nativist constituencies.

‘Everyday Repression’: Para-Police and Routine Coercion in China

Abstract: This study proposes a new concept of “everyday repression” to describe the use of banal and low-level violence by states to carry out routine coercion against citizens and to acquire citizen’s compliance to unpopular policies. Much like James Scott’s everyday forms of resistance, “everyday repression” is prosaic and routine, and reflects states’ tactical wisdom when the use of official coercive forces is not practical. Unlike organized repressive actions, “everyday repression”, exercised by “street-level bureaucrats”, requires minimal planning and coordination, and low-level of organizational capacity. In China, the “street-level bureaucrats” are the para-police or chengguan, many of whom are poorly trained temporary personnel with thuggish background. In Latin America and other countries, it is often the poorly paid police force, many of which have links with criminal organizations. “Everyday repression” that sits on one end of the “repression repertoire”, incurs low cost and requires low-level of coordination and organizational capacity, compared with organized repression on the other end of the spectrum. Yet, “everyday repression” has low perceived legitimacy, and is less costly for citizens to resist. Hence, it is more likely to result in backlash compared to organized repressive actions. While “everyday repression” maybe an expedient means of control, it often reduces state legitimacy and increases the likelihood of resistance.

Reaching the Converted: Understanding the Methods of Informant Enrollment

Abstract: A popular understanding of the operation of authoritarian regimes sees them as using repression not only to suppress the opposition directly, but also to force civilians into other forms of cooperation, such as serving as an informant. However, threats can bring about negative outcomes, by causing the informant to provide false information that is costly to verify, and by decreasing loyalty to the regime. This paper considers the way in which a secret police chooses from the toolbox of options available at its disposal to enroll its informants and uses a dataset of informants to the East German Stasi to demonstrate the mechanisms that determine the use of each of them.


Day 2

January 14th, 2019, 2-3:30pm Eastern

Public Opinion and Policing Legitimacy

Too Much Knowledge, Too Little Power: An Assessment of Political Knowledge in Highly-Policed Communities

Abstract: Studies of citizen competence regularly conclude that ordinary Americans lack the knowledge they need to form meaningful political preferences, leading to inefficient or counterproductive policymaking. Our study of conversations about policing among residents of highly-policed neighborhoods challenges this prevailing account. We find evidence that many participants possess extensive experiential knowledge about political life; that their knowledge is attained through involuntary encounters with the state rather than through civics education; that their knowledge is characterized by dual information about how the state should operate based on written law and how it actually operates as a lived experience; and that they are aware that their views of policing have little impact on policy. Our findings point to a new approach to the conceptualization and measurement of political knowledge and its role in contemporary American democracy.

Policing and Dissent: Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Uganda

Abstract: In many countries, the police are both the guardians of public safety and the primary instruments of state repression. Used to quell dissent, many argue their excessive force can drive further collective action, leading to a repression-dissent nexus. Yet does police repression spur dissent for all, or only for those already dissenting? We argue excessive police violence causes political backlash, decreasing support for police and increasing political dissent. Further, we argue these effects are conditioned by individuals’ previous collective action, supersede positive support for the police, and are independent of party support. Using a nationally representative survey experiment of 1,920 Ugandans in 194 parishes, we find robust evidence for political backlash effects of repression across all demographics, regardless of previous collective action. By examining the politics of policing in an autocracy, we show excessive state-violence triggers political backlash, increasing expressions of political dissent and decreasing support for the security apparatus.

Does Gender Representation in Law Enforcement Affect Police Legitimacy? Evidence from India

Abstract: While social scientists have probed the dynamics of exposure to gender representa- tion in political institutions (Beaman, Chattopadhyay, et al. 2009; Beaman, Du o, et al. 2012), there remains a signi cant literature gap about representation in non-elected bu- reaucratic institutions like the police. A number of nations, from Afghanistan to Liberia, have pushed for greater gender representation in their security and police forces. One consideration is that women serve to moderate the perception of the police which, ac- cording to organizations like Transparency International (TI 2017), suffer from a lack of institutional legitimacy in much of the developing world. We situate this study in India: a country that is not only arguably the most unsafe place for women in the world (Gold- smith and Beresford 2018), but also a setting with low levels of police legitimacy (Stepan, Linz, and Yadav 2011). In such a context, would women police officers add to or detract from the credibility of law enforcement? To answer this puzzle, we utilize the first nationally representative survey of policing, and also implement a novel video-based experiment. In particular, we present realistic news broadcasts to citizens in which the gender of the investigating officer and nature of the crime are manipulated. Our preliminary findings suggest that there is a bias against women in law enforcement, but that the nature of the crime also matters.

Police Violence and Public Perceptions: An Experimental Study of How Police Performance and Endorsements Affect Support for Law Enforcement

Abstract: Incidents of police violence can undermine trust in legal authorities. Whether such incidents have this effect will depend on how citizens evaluate victims, the police, and public officials. Citizens’ evaluations may be shaped by information about: 1) other police actions and 2) government responses. We study citizens’ reactions to police violence by randomly assigning these two types of thematic information about the Stephon Clark shooting in Sacramento. We find that thematic information leads non-locals to blame the police more and support state intervention. Locals, however, blame the victim more and increase trust in the police. We demonstrate the importance of these outcomes with another experiment where we randomly assign police endorsements in law enforcement elections. Police endorsements increase candidate support, but only among citizens who trust the police. These results suggest a catch-22 whereby avoiding police violence benefits police organizations, but local opinion insulates them from backlash when it occurs.


Day 3

January 15th, 2019, 2-3:30pm Eastern

Institutional Change and Policing

The Militarization of Law Enforcement in Latin America

Abstract: What are the political consequences of militarizing law enforcement? Across the world, law enforcement has become increasingly militarized over the last three decades, with civilian police operating more like armed forces and soldiers replacing civilian police in law enforcement tasks. Scholarly, policy, and journalistic attention has mostly focused on the first type, but has neglected the study of three main areas toward which this article seeks to contribute: 1) the constabularization of the military—i.e., when the armed forces take on the responsibilities of civilian law enforcement agencies, 2) the extent to which this process has taken place outside of the United States, and 3) its political consequences. Toward this end, this article unpacks the concept of militarized law enforcement, develops theoretical expectations for constabularized militaries, takes stock of constabularization in Latin America, and evaluates whether expected consequences have played out in the region. It shows that the distinction between civilian and military law enforcement typical of democratic regimes has been severely blurred in the region. Further, it argues that the constabularization of the military has had important consequences for the quality of democracy in the region by undermining human rights, citizen security, police reform, and the legal order.

Increasing Female Police Recruitment in El Salvador

Abstract: Most organizations specialized in the use of violence (e.g. military, police, insurgencies, criminal organizations or terrorist grouos) are predominantly populated by men. However, women still join these organizations. This study focuses particularly on identifying the structural factors that encourage women to join the police force. By focusing on El Salvador, one of the most violent countries in the world, this study argues that a series of gender-oriented institutional reforms increase the number of women applying to the police. The empirical evidence comes the statistical analysis of ten years (2007-2017) of enrollment applications to the Police Academy in El Salvador using count data and quasi-experimental analysis techniques. Results show that the implementation of a robust institutional framework aiming at promoting gender equity and equality effectively increases the number of female applicants to the Police Academy.

Monitoring via the Courts: Judicial Oversight and Police Violence in India

Abstract: Underwhat conditions do court rulings generate improved human rights outcomes? In this paper, we investigate the extent to which court-ordered accountability institutions can decrease government repression in the form of police violence. We argue that the creation of court-ordered, regional bodies to which citizens report allegations of police abuse provides “fire-alarm” oversight (McCubbins and Schwartz 1984) by which police officers can be monitored for abuses of power. To test the implications of our theory, we take advantage of variance in the implementation of Prakash Singh and Others v. Union of India and Others, a 2006 judgment by the Supreme Court of India requiring states and districts to establish local Police Complaints Authorities (PCAs). Using a difference-in-difference design, we show that the implementation of state PCAs is associated with statistically and substantively significant decreases in human rights violations by Indian police officers. Our theory and empirical results suggest that courts can improve human rights through the creation of accountability institutions.


Christopher Sullivan (Louisiana State University)

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