Policing Police

Democracy requires constraining the police. This project, joint with David Hausman, identifies a risk of imposing constraints on police power: those police chiefs will sabotage the new rules by substituting one form of abuse for another. In Venezuela, for example, we find that police responded to new restrictions on arrests by using more extra-judicial force.

Similarly, in Chicago, police responded to new restrictions on pedestrian stops by making traffic stops instead. But this sabotage is not inevitable. In Colombia, where police chiefs supported new restrictions on arrests, line officers accepted the new rules without substitution toward other types of abuse. This comparative evidence informs longstanding debates about the origins of and remedies for police abuse of power.