- Media portrayal of policing and personal experience with police
- If you are young white guy driving in Scarborough you wont have much
interaction with the police, but if you are young black guy you are more likely
to be pulled over. So there is fraction – some people are more likely to be
caught and some are not.
What do police do?
- They investigate and enforce criminal law
- But majority of police are not investigating criminal offence on everyday
basis but they drive around for the most part. They have their presence
known and visible and highly symbolic. Strong argument that the police
driving around is a huge waste of resources but the problem with that is that
the police reaction would not be positive otherwise because they want to see
the police and their visibility and reassurance. It is not always tactically
useful but they need to see patrolling vehicles. The effectiveness of that is
- The question of what police do is really what we expect them to do and
symbolize. This puts police, in many cases, in loose scenario, because some
police commanders are expected to b able to almost anything and respond to
anything. The police are looked to more and more – increasing number of
social issues and social anxieties, ideas of community security. Some don’t
have anything to do with law but the police ability to look with these issues
has decreased in the past 20 years. They lost the monopoly of these issues.
They are looked to address wide range of issues and problems while at the
same time, they don’t have the resources to respond. This is the paradox.
- The police are caught in this paradox. They are unable to have resources and
ability to address the problems. Many of them don’t even have to do with law
enforcement. You see this in different context – i.e. Stanley cup riot in
Vancouver. These scenarios are loose situation for police. The police were
heavily criticized for to going in earlier and not breaking that up. But they
didn’t have the shields, pepper spray, etc. But when they do, their actions will
be posted on Internet and will be criticized for heavy-handed, just for the
optics of it. If there is one video of police car being burnt they will be
criticized for not doing anything. Vancouver riot is a classic example of this.
There are political, social, and cultural aspects to things.
The Wire – This drug thing, this ain’t police work
- Police dealing with drug problem, and trying to get it approved.
- Lucid critique of drug and militarized mentality of the police in US.
- It is not always ambiguous what they do, but the police themselves are
frustrated sometimes on what their job is about. The general climate of
uncertainty of what we think police should do and what they are doing also frustrates police. What do the police do – This is a question that shifts and
relative and contested.
We need to look at police mission
- RCMP, Toronto police, and OPP
- Their mission statement don’t really mention law enforcement
- In some sense, if you twick few words, this can be mission statements for any
corporation or business. Emphasis on trust, recognizing differences,
integrity, etc. – these are phrases that almost any corporations use. These
mission statements are not only directed to public but also the officers and
employees themselves. It is becoming how they treat their employees.
- How to think about this – there is no such thing as police force anymore. The
mission is about Delivery of policing services.
o Force law
o Delivery policing services (some kind of business model)
- There is public image of policing that reflects this.
- More specifically, Canada constitutionally and historically, police is tied to
the idea of peacemaker and peace officers, which is much different from the
o This idea of what the police is now goes back to the 19 century
where the public police was referred to broadly in government-
regulated people. They didn’t exist before early 19 century. The idea
of “police officer” is new historically. They don’t call themselves police
but call themselves polis.
o Police: tied to order and good government, to “peace”
o Criminal code of Canada usually refers not to police officers, but
Is policing political?
- It is political in its character. We live in an authoritarian state.
- Structurally speaking, they are attached to the law and they have political
oversight of police activity. They are hallmark of democracy that police
power and services and the legitimacy to appeal someone is subject to
oversight and control. In legal administrative sense, yes it is.
- Policing is a product of current cultural, social, and economic conditions.
- Policing has shifted with the nature of government neo-liberalism
o Neo-liberalism is a blanket term for the refashioning of the
relationship between the individual and the state.
o The State itself too individual as liberal object – social contract
between the individuals and the government. They have some kind of
control over them and the government will provide some kind of
security as a trade-off.
o Hallmark of general neo-liberalism