Veena Dubal


Police reform over the past thirty years has been guided by the philosophy of “community policing,” or the theory that police departments overcome poor community relations by engaging in initiatives that build mutual trust. The advent of the War on Terror brought about the intermingling of federal policing initiatives with local law enforcement. The clashing goals of federal and local police entities undermine local police goals and reformation initiatives based on “community policing.” Using San Francisco as a case study, I argue that overbroad surveillance and information gathering by local police fundamentally undermines trusting relationships between police and the community. I also maintain that police legitimacy depends in part on procedural fairness. Therefore, to the extent the police engage in surveillance practices without clear standards, oversight, and accountability, they are perceived as being less legitimate in the eyes of the community. This, in turn, undermines the trust-building goals of community policing.



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