The Police: A Glossary

By DAVID CORREIA

Police (Academy):     A police “boot camp” attended by people training to become police officers where they learn to fire weapons and file paperwork. Upon completion of police academy, police cadets become police officers, where they’re told to forget everything they learned in police academy. They’re then re-trained by special “training officers” who teach them how to beat up homeless people and arbitrarily arrest, and sometimes kill, people of color.

Police (Agency):        An institution that finds its origins in southern slave patrols. After the Civil War, slave patrols became among the first municipal police departments. Just as like before the Civil War, police agencies reinforce racialized inequality by protecting private property relations. This is what is meant by “protect and serve.”

Police (Attorney)      Usually known as the District Attorney. The highest officeholder, usually elected, in the legal department of a local jurisdiction who represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses. District Attorneys work closely with local police departments in prosecuting crimes. In the United States, the cozy relationship between police and District Attorneys insure that justice is served only when it does not undermine the interests of the local police department. The fathers of nearly all current US District Attorneys were either police officers or District Attorneys.

Police (Community Relations):      Usually handled by local news outlets such as the newspaper and/or local TV news. They carry water for the local police department by attributing issues such as racism, poverty, and inequality to “crime.” They do this by parroting what the police tell them and depicting the city as dangerous and violent. This is usually referred to as “Breaking News.” In return they get “tips” and “ratings”. In Albuquerque this has been raised to an art form by KOAT-TV and, in particular, Nancy Laflin.

Police (Dog):             The police dog, or K9, is a trained dog used as an instrument of organized coercion and terror. The use of the K9 is common among US police departments and notable for the way its use reveals the logic of policing: the horror of devourment—literally the threat of being eaten alive by an agent of the state—and the history of state terrorism via the use of menacing dogs (i.e., the use of vicious dogs in the Jim Crow South, in Japanese internment camps, in Apartheid South Africa, in Nazi concentration camps, and at Abu Ghraib prison).

Police (Officer):        An agent of racialized socio-spatial control of the poor (even the “good ones”).

Police (Oversight):   See Police (Reform)

Police (Reform):       A political tactic of appeasement offered by politicians during moments of crises in police credibility, often when riots ensue after police are caught on tape murdering an innocent, unarmed person and then lying about it. The key premise of police reform is that police brutality is not the norm but rather the result of “a few bad apples.” Police reform advocates depict police brutality as unusual and exceptional instead of constitutive of actual, everyday policing. Police reform advocates promise to resolve the problem of police brutality through solutions such as improved training, hiring, leadership, and/or oversight. Generally, police reform finds purchase with white middle-class progressives. Conservatives generally reject the premise of police reform; they understand that the police exist solely to reinforce their privileges and economic interests. Most conservatives wish the police were even more violent (they will admit this when drunk, high or with other conservatives). Police reform, when and where it is practiced, is followed by more police violence.

Police (SWAT):         A paramilitary arm of municipal police departments and, increasingly, other levels of local, state, and federal law enforcement. Generally referred to as Death Squads in the developing world.

Advertisements

4 comments

  1. Thank you for this.

    My most recent fantasy is that the many videos of police violence that have been posted on social media, and hopefully will continue to be posted, may replicate what The Evening News did for the Viet Nam War–bringing the violence into peoples’ lines of vision/consciousness. Granted, we do not have a military draft, which was the other most compelling factor in motivating the public’s opposition to the war, and granted today’s violence is focused on young black men, but I think enough “regular” people are being affected or know someone who has been that the violence is generalized enough to wake up enough people to make a difference. Just maybe? Anne Kass

    Date: Fri, 1 May 2015 17:57:47 +0000 To: annesmok@msn.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s