Don Mitchell on Community Policing, Broken Windows Theory, and Accountability

February 23, 2013

Alexander von Humboldt Lecture Series 2012-2013 on “Making Cities Work”
see also: http://www.ru.nl/humboldt

Alexander von Humboldt Lecture: ‘Making What Kind of City — and Whose — Work? The Push for Policing-Centered Community Cohesion and Its Implications for the Right to the City’

Prof. Don Mitchell, Maxwell School of Public Affairs, Syracuse University, USA
Monday, Dec. 10, 2012

Abstract: This presentation will draw on research my colleagues Lynn Staeheli (University of Durham), Kafui Attoh (Syracuse University) and I are conducting in Manchester, Glasgow, Denver, and Oakland. I will explore what we have identified as a strong push — by city officials, police theorists and police officers, and many residents — for what could be called ‘policing-centred community cohesion’. Both ‘community cohesion’ and ‘community policing’ are common mantras in British and US cities, but what we show is that in particular neighbourhoods at particular times they come together such that policing agen-cies become the central hub for community development: the agencies through which community development and community action must all pass and through which they are all now shaped. The result is a model of community development and life in which ‘co-policing’ (between police officers, city officials, and select residents) is not just a central goal geared towards ensuring safety or security or urban residents, but a central mode for producing urban life. Through both an analysis of the historical development of community policing practices and a close examination of struggles over community policing in our four cities, I will examine how this state of affairs came to be. In turn, I will then offer some suggestions as to what this might mean for any progressive notion of, and struggle for, the right to the city.

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