Over at the magazine Nature is an article on the use of analytic techniques to help reduce crime. The laboratory is Springfield, Massachusetts, described in the article as "one of the most dangerous cities in the United States".
The article talks about the application of approaches from the US military's Counter-Insurgency (COIN) doctrine to the problems of crime in Springfield. This terminology, this talking of relating COIN doctrine to civilian policing, causes concerns for Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Lieutenant John Sullivan, who believes it "convolutes the discussions". If Lieutenant John Sullivan, a recognized expert in this area, shows caution, I think caution is in order. Given our form of Government, we should avoid the "militarization" of the conversation, while still being open to all lessons we can apply within our own understanding of democracy and the relationship of the People and their government.
On the other hand, the view of George Mason University anthropologist Hugh Gusterson, "that the idea of applying a counter-insurgency approach in domestic law enforcement, however it is labelled, risks casting local communities as hostile populations" ignores the idea that in COIN the local community is not a hostile population, but a population in need of help due to crime perpetrated by a group hostile to the People and their government.♠
The article is short and interesting. It makes the point that statistics can be very helpful in understanding what is going on in a community and that hidden in reams of data is knowledge that can be used to make things better.
Regards — Cliff
♠ Sometimes one wonders if the anthropology community, which, in the United States has appeared hostile to the military's use of social science insights to dealing with civilian populations, would rather adopt the line that the military should just kill their way to victory. They wouldn't say that directly, but that is what their approach amounts to. That is a short-sighted view.
10 months ago