Monday, March 1, 2010

Class-Based Law Enforcement...

... may be nothing new, nor is the argument that when money gets tight, city and state governments gut services to socially disadvantaged people first and foremost (as the past couple years in California have confirmed). Still, a recent SF Chronicle story has exposed an Oakland parking policy so blatantly unfair that it would perhaps surprise even the most cynical political observers. This story is also a good example of the fact that although they may be the "boots on the ground" of crime control, local beat cops often know far more about what's ineffective and what's unfair in policing than do the politicians and technocrats who spout rhetoric and design law enforcement policies. Police bureaucrats and communities alike would do well to absorb some of the firsthand knowledge of people like Shirnell Smith.

The mudraking and speculation as to who's responsible for this debacle has only just begun, but more is sure to come given the predictability of unified public disgust. When plainclothes citizens and thoughtful beat cops become more involved in policing their communities, relative to elite decisionmakers in statehouses and mayor's offices, it's probably a good thing. For analytical and practical purposes, crime is often better understood as a block-by-block problem than a "statewide" or "national" one.

1 comment:

garishginsberg said...

If it weren't for the fact the the socio-economically disadvantaged are still allowed to own/drive motor vehicles, we wouldn't have these problems. I wonder if Oakland is working on legislation in this vein.