How Gang Policing Is Criminalizing Whole Communities
Date:  01-18-2018

While the “Ceasefire” model of policing looks progressive, its reliance on gang indictments is anything but
From The Nation

Operation Ceasefire,” also known simply as “Ceasefire,” was developed by a Boston-based criminologist named David Kennedy in the early 1990s. According to Kennedy, because crime “does not occur evenly” across a city, neither should policing. The first part of Kennedy’s model involves mapping out crime data, encouraging police to focus on violent parts of every city—almost always low-income communities of color. The theory went that, to help reduce gun violence in these mapped areas, police would reach out directly to groups of individuals considered “at risk” and offer them social services as an alternative to incarceration. These services were offered at a “call-in,” often held in a police precinct, with cops and prosecutors warning individuals that they were being watched by police closely, and that if they were to commit a crime, they would be arrested. Surveillance, which was done mostly through on-the-street police observations (and, increasingly, social media) was central to the theory: To identify these violent groups, and to feed its reliance on mapping, the model overwhelmingly relied on a constant stream of data produced by an increased police presence.

Following the program’s introduction in Boston, Ceasefire was implemented nationally in cities ranging from New York to New Orleans and, beginning in 2012, Baton Rouge. Many cities gave Kennedy’s model a different name—in New York, a program goes by Operation Crew Cut; in New Orleans, NOLA For Life; and in Baton Rouge, it was “BRAVE.” In each iteration, Kennedy advised the programs from his research center at John Jay College in New York. Hailed by both the Bush and Obama Justice Departments, Kennedy has become the most celebrated criminologist in America, with a best-selling book called Don’t Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America published in 2011 that earned blurbs from both former New York police commissioner Bill Bratton and pop-sociologist Malcolm Gladwell. Kennedy has repeatedly been hailed by reporters as the mind behind a sort of “Moneyball” for policing, in which large amounts of data reveal those most likely to violently offend. But Kennedy’s model isn’t the clear success that its adherents claim it to be. In almost every iteration, Operation Ceasefire has failed to meaningfully reduce violence. And its emphasis on large-scale gang indictments, which work to criminalize entire social networks, risks incarcerating large numbers of young people, despite Kennedy’s claims that his method focuses on deterrence and mobilizing communities against violence. In his memoir, Kennedy blames the programs’ failings on inadequate funding and inconsistent implementation. The one part of the model that typically appears to function, however, are the large-scale gang indictments. In New York City, more than 2,000 people have been arrested for gang activity in the last year and a half. In New Orleans, at least 106 people were indicted for gang activity during its Ceasefire program. In Oakland, over a hundred people have received gang indictments as part of its Ceasefire program. Read the full article here.>>>