Thursday, April 4, 2013

"stop and frisk" and compstat

Hal Pepinsky,, skype name halpep, “peacemaking” at
April 4, 2013
                Critical criminologist Jeffrey Fagan is testifying today at the class action trial on behalf of young latino and black young men in NYC against NYPD for violation of their civil rights under the post-civil war federal law that criminalized violation of people’s constitutional rights “under color of law.”  I have just finished listening to’s live daily news hour.  Segments of the show and the entire show will be available for viewing and downloading by the time I post this blog.  At the end of the second segment, noting that today is the 45th anniversary off MLK’s assassination, she introduced the break: an excerpt of MLK delivering a speech in August 1967, on the tragedy of the predominantly white military-industrial mass bombardment driven tragedy of mostly “colored” US troops and “we see children burned to death with napalm”…Eloquent.  This break ties into the first segment, in which a Korean American UC Santa Cruz professor traces the history of the never-ended (N Korea wants it; US hasn’t given it since 1953) aerial threat to North Korea, starting with indiscriminate overflight of B-29 bombing runs killing 3.5 million North Koreans, 70% civilians, alone, through the recent joint US-S Korean military simulation of an air-led invasion of the North when the regime “topples.”  She calls for acknowledging the inevitable that North Korea will have nuclear weapons, a peace treaty, and the withdrawal of US troops from their 40 bases in the South (vs. China, which complied with the 1953 armistice agreement and withdrew its troops forthwith).  Thank goodness at least one US network is telling US history like the rest of the world feels it.  But I digress.
                The 3rd segment focuses on the trial, the most compelling part to me is a lawyer from the center for constitutional rights outlining the presentation of evidence, including testimony by a former police eyewitness that Commissioner Kelly said NYPD policy was to strike fear into black and Latino folks so they wouldn’t even think of committing crimes.  There is a lot of talk in the segment about the pressure from the top to make the numbers look good precinct by precinct.  What they don’t mention is that 20 years ago, NYPD instituted a policy designed to guarantee that arrests would go up and reported offenses including “murder” would go down.  It was called a statistical evaluation system called Compstat.  If you go to my 2001 “book”—A Criminologist’s Quest for Peace—under “peacemaking” in “Archived Papers” at, you will find my account of Compstat’s effects in chapter 1 on “living criminologically with naked emperors,” the very effects cited by the plaintiffs in this case.  Compstat reaffirmed my faith that criminologists ought to abandon trying to explain what gets counted as “crime” or “criminality.”
                The second segment in today’s show is also well worth watching, on how a not-for-profit group has moved the Associated Press to change its style manual to forbid the use of the “I” word for “immigrant” as an adjective unless it refers to acts, not to people.  All in all, this is show is outstandingly newsworthy and timely!  Love and peace--hal

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