Enrique Alvear

Predictive Policing and the Global Making of Crime Control at the Urban Margins of Santiago, Chile

In 2011, Santiago, Chile, witnessed a critical transformation as the national police transitioned from officer-driven crime control to evidence-based policing. While the former approach attempts to suppress crime based on random patrol and reactive investigations, the latter institutionalizes a proactive form of policing that deploys quantitative techniques to identify targets for police interventions and solve crime. Supported by the Inter-American Development Bank and Altegrity Risk International, a global risk consulting company led by William Bratton, Louis Anemone, and Michael Berkow (former chiefs of the New York Police Department (NYPD) and Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the government and national police created the Tactical System of Crime Analysis (STAD). This is a data-driven predictive policing program that uses spatial data systems and network models to forecast where crime is likely to occur and who is probably involved. The program aimed to assist officers and professionals in cost-effective usage of police resources and designing crime reduction strategies based on evidence-based crime analysis (CESC, 2014). Once it was inaugurated, STAD rapidly reorganized law enforcement’s interventions in marginalized urban areas experiencing high levels of deprivation, crime, and violence. What explains this unprecedented shift to predictive crime control that intensifies police forces in highly deprived urban areas in Santiago? What does STAD tell us about larger flows of economic capital, security expertise and technologies, and penal policies between the global North and South? Drawing on ethnographic observations within the national police, in-depth interviews, and archival research, I argue that the shift to predictive policing is result of larger macro-institutional arrangements between US, Chilean, and multilateral agencies that inform the production of new approaches to policing the urban poor in Santiago. By addressing this punitive turn, this paper contributes to scholarship on predictive policing, global policy mobilities, and urban policing in Latin America to illuminate the coproduction between domestic policing and globalization and its implications for existing patterns of social inequality.


Sabrina Axster

Punishing Mobility or Mobility Controls as Punishment: Colonialism, Vagrancy Laws and the Roots of Contemporary Border Controls

Immigration detention sites resembling prisons, police officers carrying out migration checks: This increasing ‘criminalization’ of border controls has been met with consternation from progressive activists, scholars and organizations alike. The ‘crimmigration’ scholarship has made important inroads into analyzing the extent to and ways in which the carceral apparatus of the state has become more entwined with efforts to curtail migration across the border. However, at the root of their research lies the assumption that what we are witnessing is an increasing convergence of the two. What this ignores is their shared and co-constitutive history and how this operates through the logics of colonialism which can be most clearly illuminated through an analysis of vagrancy laws. Initially designed to control the movement of the landless rural, they were the first laws that directly tied poor support and alms to the place of residence by assigning poor support to parishes. Parishes thus swiftly enacted regulations on who would be entitled to support, excluding ‘foreign beggars’. Over time the laws evolved to target anyone who was considered ‘idle’ and began to make clear distinctions between paupers or vagrants and ‘the deserving poor.’ Their use was not constrained to Europe but they expanded across the colonies where they were put to use to especially target black populations - a practice that increased after the abolition of slavery. In Europe their racist underpinnings can be seen through the references to Roma people and ‘peddling Jews.’ While a budding line of research in critical border studies has begun to engage with these internal roots of contemporary border controls, this scholarship focuses predominantly on the metropole and thus largely ignores the movement of vagrancy laws between the metropole and the colony in an effort to control those deemed as undeserving of public support and as a threat to racial, patriarchal and capitalist hegemony. This paper examines the racialized construction of those deemed un-worthy of inclusion through an analysis of vagrancy laws. It then further places these constructions within the context of the colonial enterprise to better understand the relationship between the colony and the metropole in the punishment of mobility. As such, the paper contributes to the existing crimmigration literature by pushing beyond its emphasis on the novelty of this relationship by showing that from their inception, mobility controls have been a form of punishment. It further contributes to research in criminal justice, policing and border controls that has emphasized the colonial boomerang by looking at the two-way relationship between the colony and the metropole.


Danielle Beaujon

The Peddlers and the Police: Commerce and Colonial Control in Algiers

In 1940, a familiar scandal erupted in Algiers. According to the right-leaning Mayor of Algiers, Augustin Rozis, the police had once again begun roundups targeting the indigenous Algerian peddlers who sold things off the carts they hauled through the city. Rozi wrote, “In several neighborhoods, merchandise was seized, impounded, abandoned, thrown on the ground, the hunts after these men taking place under the hostile regard of the indigène population.”[1] Disputes between peddlers and police were nothing new. For decades, a battle had raged over who had the right to sell goods in the markets and streets of Algiers and police officers figured prominently in the repression of itinerant salesmen. In 1940, Rozi portrayed police officers as the antagonists, but in other instances, it was Algerian merchants who called on the police for tighter regulations, seeking to eliminate competition from the peddlers. How did the colonial police moderate a dispute that pitted different segments of the colonized population against one another? What did it mean for Algerians, on all sides, to turn to the police to mediate this conflict? Why were the peddlers treated as such a threat to colonial order?

In this paper, I will use the recurring tensions over peddlers and marketplaces to trace police efforts to moderate conflict in colonial Algiers. The story of the peddlers and the police reveals more than just a colonial government’s attempt to protect capitalist interests, although that is also part of the story. Rather, the periodic raids on peddlers center questions of urban space, social need, racial identity, and the imagined role of police in society. While the debates over peddlers focused on issues particular to Algiers, the discord also offers a window into the daily operations of the French colonial police and allows us to see how political shifts in mainland France altered local police priorities through the continuous, reciprocal exchange between metropole and colony.


Andy Clarno

Webs of Imperial Policing: Johannesburg, Jerusalem, Chicago

Neoliberal apartheid regimes like Israel, South Africa, and the US depend on advanced carceral strategies to maintain power. But these strategies do not operate in isolation. Instead, policing is operationalized through networks of state and private security forces that crisscross the globe but congeal in context specific formations at a range of geographic scales. We refer to these networks as webs of imperial policing. This paper introduces an analysis developed by the Policing in Chicago Research Group (PCRG) to analyze imperial policing in carceral Chicago. It introduces our analysis of the three police wars that make up the core of imperial policing in Chicago today. Next, the paper brings this work into conversation with my previous scholarship on neoliberal securitization in Palestine and South Africa. In doing so, it points toward new research on the webs of imperial policing – with a focus on the flows of technology, expertise, data, and discourse that provide the connective tissue of these webs.


Yanilda González and Jessica Zarkin

Who Governs Policing? Mayors’ Strategic Linkages to Police in Latin American Cities

What explains the variation in mayors’ strategic linkages with police forces they do not formally control? This question is of central importance in Latin America, home to 43 of the 50 most violent cities in the world. As mayors with limited to no authority over police came to see their electoral fortunes affected by citizen demands for security, some have expanded the role of municipal governments in policing. Others, however, deliberately constrained their role in this electorally risky area. Drawing on case studies of cities in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, we argue and show that variation in mayors’ strategic linkages to policing and security is shaped by electoral incentives for responsiveness and constraints that impose responsibility (formal authority over security) and risk of shirking by police. Our findings speak to an emerging research agenda placing policing at the center of our understanding of urban governance and democratic responsiveness more broadly.


Adam Elliott-Cooper

Abolishing Institutional Racism
In 2020, anti-racist campaigns mobilising under the banner of Black Lives Matter challenged liberal reforms to policing as they made calls to defund the police. In the same year, the government’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities rejected not just the radical demands of BLM protesters but even liberal analyses of institutional racism in policing. This paper examines how these two political interventions, analysing the same place at the same time, arrived at such divergent conclusions. This is done by tracing critiques of institutional racism from the Black Power movements of the 1960s and ’70s, through to the more liberal interpretations of institutional racism following the 1999 Macpherson Report. It goes on to argue that the failings of Macpherson provided the impetus for the political developments of 2020. The dearth of political, historical and economic analysis by Macpherson helped to embolden the government to denude interpretations of data on racial inequalities as constituting institutional racism. Simultaneously, the endurance of police racism in post-Macpherson Britain has served only to underline the necessity for more radical demands in challenging institutional racism. This has spurred present-day activists to complement their abolitionist demands by drawing on the radical Black Power politics of the 20th century.


Karl Arvin Hapal



Steffen Jensen (not attending)

Policing as counterinsurgency: Reflections from the Philippines and beyond

How and to what extent may we understand policing through the lens of counterinsurgency? Can a focus on policing and counterinsurgency help us create a potentially global, comparative framework for understanding policing across the global north and south? These are questions that I will seek to explore in this paper. Counterinsurgency is associated with military-style operations to combat insurgency in asymmetrical warfare. While it makes little sense to equal policing with military operations, I have suggested elsewhere that we may think of the relationship as family resemblance in Wittgenstein’s terms. Policing and counterinsurgency often employ remarkably similar methods and they share important responses to similar problems of governance, namely how power maintains itself in the face of an onslaught from the margin or from those it confines to the margin.

I explore the family resemblances between counterinsurgency and policing primarily through ethnographic material from before (2009-2010) and during the war on drugs (2017) in Manila, the Philippines. Rather than seeing the war on drugs primarily as a policy imposed by the Duterte presidency, I situate the war in a century-long policing relationships and show how the war on drugs drew on previous registers and practices of counterinsurgency. I compare these practices with previous and ongoing work on the war on gangs and drugs in Cape Town, South Africa and in Marseille, France. The ambition is to explore to what extent these comparative experiences allow us to say something more general on the practices of policing across the world by thinking across the global north and south.


Markus-Michael Müller

Legacies of German Policing in Latin America

In November 2021, the Colombian police academy Escuela de Policía Simón Bolívar in Taluá made international headlines. A few days after the signing of a bilateral military agreement between Germany and Colombia, the institution hosted an international week celebrating the history of the German police. Photos of the event that appeared on social media showed Colombian police officers dressed-up in Nazi attire displaying self-made models of German WWII weaponry, while the academy’s entrance, decorated with balloons colored in the black-red-gold of the German tricolour, was guarded by a Hitler clone with a German Shepherd sitting by his side.

Commentators quickly picked-up on the glorification of fascist Germany, but the deeper historical entanglements underpinning Colombian admiration for German policing went unnoticed. So far, these legacies have also been overlooked by academic studies on the impact of external assistance for Latin America police forces, which nearly exclusively focus on the role of the US. Addressing this gap, this paper unpacks German-Latin American policing entanglements from the 19th century until the early 1960s. Drawing upon the findings of archival research in Germany and the Americas, it places German engagements with the region’s security forces within changing global imperial dynamics and identifies patterns of continuity and change regarding different figurations of the Latin American military-police continuum that were born out of these encounters. In so doing, it underscores the German contribution to the violent pedigree of Latin American security governance that persists until the present.

The paper argues that police equipment and expertise “made in Germany” symbolized for Latin American political elites, and security practitioners, technological sophistication as well as practical success in regards to the countering of armed and civilian opposition to the socio-political status quo – the historical mandate of Latin American security forces. In many of the region’s ethnically deeply divided postcolonial societies, Germany’s own imperial and fascist past had additional purchase as Germans were understood to know best how to police society’s racialized “other.” The fact that much of this assistance was embedded in, and could build upon, a longstanding presence of German military missions that enabled Latin American rulers to modernize their armed forces according to Prussian (un)conventional warfare blueprints—thereby turning them into inward-looking constabulary forces—further contributed to the symbolic capital attached to German security “know how.”


Lou Pingeot and Colleen Bell

Policing “at home” and “abroad” under settler colonialism: The case of Canada

Like in other settler colonial societies, policing in Canada has always blurred the supposedly clear lines between domestic and international, inside and outside, peace and war, and police and military. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) spearheaded the settler colonial system through enforcement of federal law across Indigenous territories, centering on land acquisition, the confinement of Indigenous peoples to reserves, and the imposition of a new system of governance. This paper teases out the continuities between this history and contemporary policing in Canada, by examining the current entanglements between policing “at home” and policing “abroad” in an ongoing settler colonial context. In particular, it focuses on the deployment of Canadian police officers in international peacekeeping, stabilization, and counterterrorism operations. The Canadian government itself acknowledges that policing abroad and policing at home are entangled, and sees this entanglement as leading to better policing. Indeed, Public Safety Canada argues that deployment abroad can lead to greater “cultural awareness”, thus helping police forces to strengthen relationships with the public, in particular racialized communities. The paper explores how this diagnosis is made possible and the visions of policing it supposes. How are homologies established between intervention abroad and intervention at home, between domestic and foreign populations? How are representations of racialized populations (re)produced through deployment in international intervention? And how does this fit into patterns of (post)colonial policing? The paper is based on preliminary interviews with Canadian officials and police officers as well as government documents, including internal evaluations of deployment programs and their effects on domestic policing.


Stephanie Saxton

How Police Expand the State: The Case of the Maryland Oyster Police

This chapter follows the creation and development of the Maryland State Oyster Police. Maryland’s General Assembly created the Oyster Police to regulate oyster fishing and attempt to maintain the oyster population in 1868. Like other chapters in my dissertation, this police department is created in response to a speculative economic boom, when business elites are at odds. Beyond measuring the size of harvested oysters and checking fishing licenses, the Oyster Police would engage in proxy wars with Virginia fishermen and police over contested territory on the water. Following Charles Tilly’s theory, “war makes states”, the Oyster Police began as a specialty department, at times warring with a neighboring state, but grew into the present-day Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The development of the Oyster Police, its territory wars, and eventual expansion as a state bureaucracy, illustrate the ways in which police departments historically contributed to American-state-building.


Kathryn Takabvirwa

Policing the Postcolony: Race and Citizenship in Zimbabwe

In 2012, the Zimbabwean government inaugurated a five-year period of intensive policing. Police officers mounted semi-permanent official roadblocks throughout the country, transforming everyday commuting into repeated inspections and interrogations by the police. Driving to work or taking public transport to buy groceries suddenly meant being pulled over by the police three or four times, each day. This, in a country with no armed conflict, at a time of relative quiet. Unlike other countries where particular subgroups are overpoliced (e.g. Black Americans, immigrants, or ethnic minorities), the roadblock regime in Zimbabwe subjected the country in general, to hyper-policing. Roadblocks rendered the mobile citizenry newly accessible to policing. This paper examines the tensions at work in those policing encounters. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, it explores the ways citizenship is negotiated between police and policed on the road. It asks: how does intensive policing reshape conceptions of race, class, and postcolonial citizenship, particularly given transnational debates around policing? The paper situates contemporary policing and postcolonial governance in Zimbabwe within longer histories of policing in Southern Africa, examining postcolonial forms against their colonial and imperial origins. It places roadblock encounters in Zimbabwe within larger debates on policing, particularly given ongoing concerns over police brutality, institutional racism, and the meanings of blackness, in what Gilroy terms the black Atlantic.


Maya Van Nuys

Better or Best? International Organizations and Standards in International Policing

What methods and theories of policing do IOs promote? Are these policies stable across contexts or do they differ depending on the region or state involved? This project builds on past scholarship linking international policing to histories of colonialism with more recent scholarship on policing in post-conflict contexts. For many practitioners, policing norms are culturally determined. As such, norms of policing in post-conflict contexts, which often share a colonial history, constrain international standards as practitioners assume these spaces have more coercive policing cultures. Using interviews with practitioners in policing divisions of international organizations, the study outlines current conceptions of “best practices” at the international level. Interview data also highlights the means by which these organizations promote distinct policy paradigms. The analysis focuses on the distinction between “best” practices as a normative ideal and “good” practices as the reality for international policing guidelines. Given extensive work on the impact of police on social and political participation and belonging, the ability of policing IOs to inform policing norms based on existing national and epistemic police community guidelines may lead to the reproduction of harmful policing practices, such as greater use of force in policing public mobilization or protest.


Zoha Waseem

Cultivating neo-colonial entanglements through penal reform? A critical glance at the politics of police reform, aid, and assistance in Pakistan

What are the impacts of the interactions between penal reform agendas designed and supported by Western donors and the elite political preferences of recipient states on the coercive arms of political power, or on regimes of repression, in the global South? Donor-funded reform initiatives in the global South are said to be tailored around the strategic interests and imperatives of northern or ‘Western’ states. Simultaneously, they may also be tailored according to the civilian and/or military interests of the regimes in recipient or host countries. They are thus vulnerable to being driven by and protecting elite interests and existing power structures (Ellison and Pino 2012), at the cost of good governance and public safety.

Building on recent scholarship on how international counterinsurgency agendas influence local policing (Schrader 2019, Yonucu 2021), and furthering calls for recognising neo-coloniality in criminal justice and penal reform (Ciocchini and Greener 2021, Stambol 2021), especially through southern and critical criminology perspectives (Carrington et al. 2016, Aliverti et al. 2021), this paper evaluates penal reform (specifically, police reform), as it is designed and delivered through Western aid and assistance to postcolonial regimes, such as Pakistan, in pursuance of global and local counterterrorism and counterinsurgency campaigns, or more broadly for ‘better’ or ‘democratic’ governance.

This paper explores how, and to what extent, these donor-led reform agendas have influenced and mobilised changes in law enforcement and public policing in Pakistan. Given that these agendas (shaped by donor and elite recipients’ interests) rarely address social, historical, and political forces and foundations affecting the delivery of policing, I examine their impact on (i) militarised policing practices, (ii) elite patronage network and patron-client relationships, (iii) informal policing practices and behaviours, (iv) and skewed accountability structures. What makes the Pakistan case interesting is a pluralised and fragmented landscape of policing and law enforcement governance and administration, in which neo-colonial agendas find multiple collaborators. Thus, this paper makes a new and critical contribution on how transnational political and economic interests inspire collaborations and partnerships in the sectors of policing and law enforcement.

To do so, this paper evaluates the efforts supported, funded, and led by Western governments (e.g., the US and UK) as well as international organisations (e.g., the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank) in furthering policing and law enforcement reform in Pakistan in the post-Cold War period. It relies upon official documents, government reports, policy reports, and elite interviews conducted with key stakeholders. It explores how international cooperation and partnerships forged to deliver ‘democratic’ governance and policing mechanisms, during a period of growths in transnational policing (Bowling 2009), are operationalised in a non-democratic environment where donor interests and interactions intersect with competing political interests and preferences within a hybrid and pluralised landscape, layered with civilian and military competition.


Jesse Wozniak

Shaping the State and its People: What Early US and Contemporary Iraqi Police Reveal About the Centrality of Policing to the Modern Capitalist State

Although founded centuries apart and developing in radically different contexts, the new Iraqi national police force bears a striking number of similarities to early American police forces. While some of this can be attributed to the direct role of American advisors in the establishment of Iraqi police forces, the similarities run far deeper than what could be directly transmitted by foreign trainers and advisors. Indeed, a side-by-side comparison of the development of the two forces, in everything from how they are trained to how they are paid to how they operate publicly to the discourses they employ to justify their actions to how they are received by the public presents an almost mirror image. These marked similarities suggest something almost inherent in the development of policing regimes, pointing to fundamental aspects of how policing is enacted in the modern era and the role it plays in the consolidation and maintenance of state power. Policing regimes have been integral to the modern state’s assertion of sovereignty over issues of law and social order, and as such, play a central role in attempts to construct hegemonic order.

[1] Indigène was an offensive colonial term used to designate indigenous Algerians. ANOM. 1 F 119. Maire de la Ville d’Alger. « Note sur les Marchands Ambulants. » [Undated, likely 1940].

For assistance, please contact jgo34@uchicago.edu or hennam@uchicago.edu.