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Chesluk, B. (2004). “Visible signs of a city out of control”: Community policing in New York City. Cultural Anthropology, 19(2), 250-275. Retrieved from the JSTOR database.
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“Visible Signs of a City out of Control”: Community Policing in New York City Author(syf % H Q M D P L Q & K H V O X k Source: Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 19, No. 2 (May, 2004yf S S 5 Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3651556 Accessed: 12-02-2017 04:52 UTC JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at http://about.jstor.org/terms American Anthropological Association, Wiley are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Cultural Anthropology This content downloaded from 184.108.40.206 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms “Visible Signs of a City Out of Control”: Community Policing in New York City Benjamin Chesluk Fordham University This article examines institutions of community policing and their relationship to changing conceptions of order in New York City in the 1990s. The sites of my research were: a special meeting of the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Asso- ciation; the Midtown North Precinct Community Council; and the Citizens’ Police Academy run by the New York Police Department (NYPDyf 7 K H V e staged dialogues with the police made up part of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s program of order-maintenance policing, which was, in turn, one aspect of his administration’s attempt to make New York City a more civil and livable city (Blumenthal 1994; Flynn 2000; Krauss 1994yf 7 K H T X H V W L R Q S R V H G E * L – uliani’s critics was, and still is, of course, “livable for whom?” (Harcourt 1998 and 2001; McArdle and Erzen 2001; Smith 1998yf ‘ I argue that these dialogues between police and community groups acted out larger debates over the nature of citizenship and social order in the context of urban socioeconomic change; specifically, the transformation of the built, legal, economic and social environment under the ideology of neoliberalism. In New York City in the 1980s and 1990s, these transformations entailed pri- vatizing public spaces and the promotion of other programs aimed at fostering a climate conducive to real estate speculation and development. The encoun- ters I describe between police and community groups can be seen, in part, as fractal images of the ideological struggles between neoliberalism and its dis- contents. They were enactments-in-miniature of the battles over this new po- litical-economic order: its attempts to achieve hegemonic status; the efforts of individuals and groups to accommodate themselves to its harsh ideology; and the struggles of those who cannot comfortably find a place in the world neolib- eralism makes. To analyze these meetings, I draw on the approach to narrative politics and poetics modeled by recent critical histories and ethnographies of develop- ment (Cintron 1997; Ferguson 1994; Ivy 1995; Martin 1994; Mitchell 1991; Pemberton 1994; Stewart 1996yf 7 K H V H W H [ W V O R R N D W G H Y H O R S P H Q W L Q V W L W X W L R Q s across a broad scale, from colonial powers to the World Bank and national cul- tural preservation programs to corporate workforce trainers and local zoning CulturalAnthropology Vol. 19, Issue 2, pp. 250-275, ISSN 0886-7356. ? 2004 by the American Anthropological Association. All rights reserved. Send requests for permission to reprint to: Rights and Permissions, University of California Press, Journals Division, 2000 Center Street, Suite 303, Berkeley, CA 94704-1223. 250 This content downloaded from 220.127.116.11 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms COMMUNITY POLICING IN NEW YORK CITY 251 boards. They pay close attention to the ways in which social conflicts are ex- pressed in aesthetics-in the form and content of the narratives of development workers, as well as the people whose lives they affect. These texts help us un- derstand the ways in which macroscale political power is experienced on the more intimate scale of everyday life. They show how important it is to examine taken-for-granted ideas about social order: both how these ideas play out in everyday practice and the political conflicts they encode. With this in mind, I explore how people construct the social order and dis- order in the charged context of dialogues between the NYPD and community groups. I pay specific attention to the dominant ideology of order-maintenance policing. This is a belief system structured around the imagined threat of a per- manent and intensifying crisis of crime (Hall et al. 1978yf R I F U L P L Q D O R X W V L G – ers who threaten stable, homogeneous communities, creeping into the struc- tures of society through neglected cracks in the orderly facades of everyday urban life. In the police-community meetings I describe in this article, the po- lice attempted to interpellate, or hail (Althusser 1971yf D S D U W L F X O D U F R P P X Q L W y subject, one that would accept this ideology and respond on its terms-a com- munity that would narrate its fears of disorder in an orderly and useful way. But in these meetings, things happened that seemed at times to lie outside of the official vision of social order and even, in certain instances, to contradict it. Those whom the police addressed in the order-maintenance discourse did in- deed take up this ideology of crime and crisis, by working with it and speaking its language. At the same time, they challenged it by turning it back on itself in moments of conflict and apparent disorder within the rhetorical space of law and order. The confusion and challenges within these meetings rang with undertones of larger social debates: over the changes in urban infrastructure and everyday life wrought by neoliberal redevelopment projects; over the nature of the “so- cial order” that these redevelopment projects seek to impose; and over the rela- tion of the police to defining and maintaining that order. These debates un- folded in a neighborhood where a new vision of order centered on real estate speculation was playing havoc with local inhabitants’ everyday experience of the city and their perception of their place in it. In other words, was the definition of “order” presented in these interac- tions between police and local community groups universally agreed upon or only one order among many? And if so, whose vision of order was it? Neoliberal New York and the Redevelopment of Times Square My research on community policing was part of my fieldwork in 1997 and 1998 on the widely publicized and debated redevelopment of Times Square, which is a decades-long collaboration between private developers and city and state governmental agencies to redefine the built, legal, social, and economic environment of the Times Square area. The real estate developers, city plan- ners, architects, and others involved in this redevelopment play with signs of the history of Times Square as a center for night life and spectacular license, This content downloaded from 18.104.22.168 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 252 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY even as they work to turn the area into a corporate office district. Lynne Saga- lyn characterizes both the redevelopment of Times Square and Mayor Gi- uliani’s “quests for order” as signs of a larger social shift-“the end of the broad liberal experiment in New York” (Sagalyn 2001:475yf . The Times Square redevelopment has produced enormous changes, both in the makeup and scale of the businesses, architecture, and social life of the area. One immediately sees and viscerally feels these changes as one walks through the neighborhood. No one could now portray Times Square as the de- graded, squalid place seen in the films Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver. The area’s former booming market in pornography and other kinds of sexually ex- plicit entertainment has been almost completely displaced-along with the groups of gay men, black and Latino youths, and others for whom Times Square had once provided a haven. The area is chockablock with new corpo- rate office buildings, giant electronic billboards, and slick national and global chain stores and restaurants. Along 42nd Street, until recently filled with cheap movie houses, sex shops, souvenir stands, and walk-up tenement buildings, new theaters and multiplex cinemas fill the streetscape now overshadowed by four soaring new towers. The new stores, theaters, and office buildings of Times Square and 42nd Street house global brand names in finance, such as NASDAQ and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, as well as mass media, both jour- nalism and entertainment, including Reuters, Conde Naste, MTV, and Disney.2 The redevelopment of Times Square has also greatly affected the city around it, particularly the residential neighborhood just to the west, an area variously known as Clinton or Hell’s Kitchen, depending on whom you ask. When I first arrived in New York City, I rented a room there in what I found to be an extremely diverse neighborhood, made up largely of tenements housing older working- and lower-middle-class residents who were mostly white and of various ethnic backgrounds, actors and theater professionals, and a growing gay population moving up from the Chelsea neighborhood. There were also the inhabitants of numerous local treatment centers and halfway houses to the south; a large Latin American population in a row of housing towers lined up along Tenth Avenue; and a substantial number of newly-arrived young profes- sionals who filled the large new apartment buildings going up throughout the area. All these groups met (or avoidedyf H D F K R W K H U R Q 1 L Q W K $ Y H Q X H D E X V y commercial strip increasingly dominated by upscale restaurants and bars cater- ing to Broadway theater patrons and local yuppies. The Times Square redevelopment and the influx of affluent new residents and businesses in Hell’s Kitchen contributed to a rise in property values in the neighborhood, putting pressure on older tenants to move out so that landlords could raise rents or sell the buildings to developers. More and more older buildings in or around the area were being razed to make way for larger office or apartment towers. This new scale of development continues to cast a literal and figurative shadow over Hell’ s Kitchen’s shops and tenements. The comprehensive physical and social reorganization of places like Times Square and Hell’s Kitchen reflect what geographers Jamie Peck and This content downloaded from 22.214.171.124 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms COMMUNITY POLICING IN NEW YORK CITY 253 Adam Tickell (2002yf F D O O W K H Q H R O L E H U D O L ] D W L R Q R I V S D F H 7 K L V Q H Z U H O L J L R n of neoliberalism … combines a commitment to the extension of markets and logics of competitiveness with a profound antipathy to all kinds of Keynesian and/or collectivist strategies … married with aggressive forms of state down- sizing, austerity financing, and public-service ‘reform’ ” (2002:381yf 6 L Q F H W K e 1980s, neoliberalism has created a climate of intense, zero-sum competition among cities over scarce economic and political resources. City governments increasingly rely on “elite partnerships, mega-events, and corporate seduction” to stay afloat (2002:393yf 3 H F N D Q G 7 L F N H O O V H H W K L V G H V S H U D W H X U E D Q H Q W U H – peneurialism” as the source of “the serial reproduction of cultural spectacles, enterprise zones, waterfront developments, and privatized forms of local gov- ernance” across the United States and elsewhere (2002:393yf 1 H R O L E H U D O X U E D n development carves cities into privatized, fortified enclaves (Caldeira 1999; Davis 1992; Judd 1995; Sorkin 1992yf Z L W K D Q H Z V R F L D O H P S K D V L V R Q R U G H U ” as determined by corporate interests and aesthetics (Deutsche 1996; Guano 2002; cf. Ellin 1999; Harvey 1990yf 7 K H V H V S D W L D O W U D Q V I R U P D W L R Q V J R K D Q G L n hand with a parallel restructuring of public policy and social services; specifi- cally, the “selective appropriation of ‘community’ ” both to justify and to fund local governmental initiatives (Peck and Tickell 2002:393; see also Crawford 1997:167-168yf , Q R W K H U Z R U G V W K H V H W U D Q V I R U P D W L R Q V R I X U E D Q V S D F H D U H D F F R P – panied by changes in policing and social policies that increasingly rely on rhe- torical and practical reworkings of concepts of both “order” and “community.” “Quality-of-Life” and the Trope of the Broken Window Initially, I had not planned to study the NYPD, but my research in New York City came to be framed by incidents of what many took to be extreme po- lice violence against black New Yorkers. My research began in the summer of 1997 on the very day that the Abner Louima police torture case hit the front pages and it was concluded in 1998 about the same time that Amadou Diallo was shot by four members of the NYPD street crimes unit in the Bronx. I was immersed in writing about the relationship between police and real estate de- velopment in Times Square when Patrick Dorismond, a Haitian-American se- curity guard, was shot in a scuffle with undercover officers posing as drug cus- tomers near the Port Authority bus terminal, just west of Times Square. All three of these incidents led to a wave of angry attacks on what some saw as the excesses of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s “order maintenance” strategies and the NYPD’s disdainful, even violent, attitude toward nonwhite New Yorkers (McArdle and Erzen 2001; Smith 1998yf . As I acquainted myself with the neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, I noticed fliers posted on local bulletin boards announcing various political meetings and other events, including invitations for area residents to talk with officers from the local Midtown North and South Precincts of the NYPD. Once I began attending these meetings, one phrase in particular leapt out at me: “quality-of- life.” People used the phrase “quality-of-life offenses” to refer to those misde- meanors formerly known as “victimless crimes”: soliciting for prostitution, This content downloaded from 126.96.36.199 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 254 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY petty drug sales, and drinking in public. At one such community policing meet- ing, I heard a New York City judge define “quality-of-life offenses” as “annoy- ing, very annoying, very annoying misdemeanors that upset people as much as felonies-sometimes more than felonies.” I also heard people use “quality-of- life” to signal a host of “disorderly” but noncriminal behaviors, as well as to talk about the general decay they perceived in the built environment around them. I was curious about the apparent flexibility of this phrase and the work it did in these meetings. Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman calls the concept of “qual- ity-of-life” an “image [that] is perpetually changing” (Bauman 1995:80yf + e argues that its rhetorical power lies in its flexible and open-ended nature: There would be no interest in the “quality of life” . . . if not for the widespread, often vague, but always acute and unnerving feeling that life as it is “is not good enough.” Discussion of quality of life is … about giving that vague, elusive feel- ing of disaffection some flesh and bone: about spelling out just what makes life as it is not pleasant enough and on the whole unsatisfactory. For that reason the “quality of life” discourse is in its innermost core a critique of daily life. [Bauman 1995:77] When I asked city officials and others to explain the concept of quality-of- life and the new police practices it was used to describe, they often told me what I came to think of as “broken windows stories.” I heard these stories from security guards, community activists, and real estate developers alike during my fieldwork. People told broken windows stories when they wanted to ex- plain why they thought it was important to control even relatively innocuous disorderly behavior. For example, one board member of an organization called the Times Square Business Improvement District (BIDyf X V H G W K H V W R U W R H [ – plain why his organization had instituted its own trash collection services in Times Square: There’s a philosophy of keeping things clean called the “broken windows syn- drome.” An empty building, if somebody breaks a window in it, a lot of people will break other windows in it. If you put graffiti on a wall, [and] people don’t scrub the graffiti off promptly, pretty soon there’ll be more graffiti, more and more. But keep the wall clean, it tends to stay clean. If the street’s clean, it tends to stay clean. If there’s trash flowing around the street, why should you not drop your gum wrap- per or cigarette wrapper? I mean, somebody else does it. But if it’s really nice and neat and clean, you are more apt to wait ’til you get to a wastebasket. He laughed as he went on to give another example of what he considered a broken window: on the way to meet me at the coffee shop on Ninth Avenue where we spoke, he had spotted what he took to be the Police Commissioner’s limousine, illegally parked half up on the sidewalk. These broken windows stories all seemed to draw both their form and their content from a single, paradigmatic source: an article from the Atlantic Monthly by criminologists James Q. Wilson and George Kelling (1982yf H Q W L W O H G , “Broken Windows: The Police and Neighborhood Safety.” The title alludes to This content downloaded from 188.8.131.52 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms COMMUNITY POLICING IN NEW YORK CITY 255 a story that the authors tell in the first pages of the article, an archetypical bro- ken windows story, in which “a stable neighborhood of families who care for their homes, mind each other’s children, and confidently frown on unwanted intruders” is transformed into “an inhospitable and frightening jungle . . . vul- nerable to criminal invasion” due to the simple neglect of one abandoned piece of property (Wilson and Kelling 1982:3 1yf 7 K H D X W K R U V X V H W K L V V W R U W R F D O O I R r the police to crack down on “disorderly” acts such as drinking or sleeping in public, in the name of defending the communities they serve: “The essence of the police role in maintaining order is to reinforce the informal control mecha- nisms of the community itself’ (Wilson and Kelling 1982:31yf 7 K H S U R S R V H d that following this principle of zero tolerance will bring about a general social good: “order.” The discourse of “broken windows” has traveled widely, circulating through- out police and urban development circles and beyond, in the form of anecdotes, favorable media coverage, and inclusion in collections of “classic readings” on policing and community-police relations (e.g., Oliver 2000yf D V Z H O O D V I U D P L Q g coauthor Kelling’s subsequent book, Fixing Broken Windows (Kelling and Coles 1997yf , W K D V D O V R E H H Q W K H V X E M H F W R I P X F K G H E D W H 0 L O O H U f. Many have criticized it for providing “the central rationale for oppressive and intoler- ant policing practices (Harcourt 2001:129, 161-171; Kraska and Kappeler 1997yf W K D W S X W W K H L Q W H U H V W V R I S U R S H U W R Z Q H U V D Q G E X V L Q H V V O H D G H U V R Y H U W K H L Q – terests of tenants, the homeless, and other inhabitants (cf. Gregory 1998:151yf . The theory also assumes a natural alliance between city and state authorities and community interests, “despite the fact that urban structures and harsh con- trol measures are themselves contributing elements in community dissolution and dissent” (Baird 1999; see also Crawford 1997:151-153; Greene and Mas- trofski 1988yf $ V F U L P L Q R O R J L V W $ G D P & U D Z I R U G R E V H U Y H V % R W K W K H S U L Y D W L ] D – tion of life and anxieties about life in public appear to march hand in hand…. In many senses, the whole debate about ‘fear of crime,’ which has spawned a mini-industry of its own, is a trope for the decline and impoverishment of pub- lic spaces” (1997:85yf , Q R W K H U Z R U G V F U L P H L V I D U I U R P E H L Q J W K H R Q O V R X U F e of fear and uncertainty in contemporary urban life-something humorously ac- knowledged by the Times Square BID boardmember in the story about the Po- lice Commissioner’s limousine. But the power of the broken windows discourse has brushed these cri- tiques aside. It has become a powerful commonsense trope-a symbol that condenses an entire, morally charged narrative framework. Specifically, the broken window now serves as a figure for a struggle between order and disor- der fought in the arena of everyday life and the taken-for-granted. It effectively gives an apocalyptic resonance to an open-ended critique of the every- day-every moment of discomfort can be read as a potential broken window and therefore the first step on the road to chaos. In 1994, Mayor Giuliani and his first police commissioner, William Brat- ton, brought the concept of broken windows and order maintenance into the This content downloaded from 184.108.40.206 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 256 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY heart of NYPD practice. Bratton and Giuliani both alluded to it indirectly in their inaugural manifesto, Police Strategy Five: New Yorkers have for years felt that the quality of life in their city has been in de- cline, that their city is moving away from, rather than toward, the reality of a de- cent society. The overall growth of violent crime during the past several decades has enlarged this perception. But so has an increase in the signs of disorder in the public spaces of the city. … Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has called these types of behavior “visible signs of a city out of control, a city that can’t protect its space or its children.” [New York Police Department 1994:4] Police Strategy Five goes on to announce the NYPD’s more general inter- est in controlling crime as well as the fear of crime in everyday life. In order to justify its crackdown on quality-of-life offenses, as well as its interest in under- standing and controlling everyday fear, the document expresses concern for New York City’s “embattled communities” that it imagines as the terrified vic- tims of these offenses. Discourses of Order and Community Those who hold this contemporary vision of policing, oriented toward quality-of-life issues and order maintenance, believe that these “embattled communities” possess an intuitive and legally sound sense of order and disor- der. They imagine that law-abiding citizens sense the presence or absence of social order through interpreting signs of threat in their everyday lives; that these citizens form coherent communities who can articulate a positive vision of order; that the role of the police is to represent the standards held by the community at large; and that the police can both listen to these communities sympathetically and respond appropriately.3 According to this perspective, the police must help law-abiding citizens to create orderly communities by inciting people to understand and talk about their everyday experiences of the city in terms of signs of disorder. This dis- course sorts people and behaviors into categories of order and disorder: natu- ral and unnatural, social and antisocial, good and bad. It reduces the work of understanding human life simply to a task of decoding signs in a binary code. But society does not consist of a binary opposition between good people and practices and bad ones.4 Instead, “order maintenance” should better be called “order production,” “order manufacture,” or “order imposition.” Such an act of creating order is itself a disorderly and exclusionary task. As Ralph Cintron observes, “the process [of making an order] entails ordering something out”-censoring and excluding ideas, behaviors, and people (1997:xyf . In the context of community policing organizations, what gets “ordered out” are “troublesome groups,” including “marginalized youths (neither full con- sumers nor citizensyf Y D J U D Q W V G U X J D E X V H U V S U R V W L W X W H V D Q G V R I R U W K & U D Z – ford 1997:168yf 7 K H V H J U R X S V D U H L G H Q W L I L H G D V W K H D U F K L W H F W V R I Q H L J K E R U K R R d change and economic decline, rather than as its victims” (Crawford 1997:267yf , n place of these “undesirables,” the police reach out to those well-organized This content downloaded from 220.127.116.11 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms COMMUNITY POLICING IN NEW YORK CITY 257 groups they call “the community.” But the police determine in part the nature of the “community” and how they will speak. The police summon particular groups together, organize their speakers, interpret their words, and decide how to respond to their requests for action. The discourse of “community policing” addresses a subject constituted by this very address. The official rhetoric is also a pedagogical practice. “Community initiatives allow relevant criminal justice agencies … to attempt to rearticulate and redefine the boundaries or the public’s legitimate expectations of state agencies. Community involvement is, therefore, a means of managing and steering expectations” (Crawford 1997: 265yf . In other words, these institutions hold a mirror up to “the community” so that it can know itself-a particular, highly selective and romanticized version of itself, “cleansed of any negative or criminogenic connotations and endowed with a simplistic and nai’ve purity and virtue” (Crawford 1997:153yf $ W W K e same time, to extend the metaphor, this ideological mirror shows an image of the police as actively responding to the community’s desires (“doing some- thing”yf 7 K L V L V D Q H [ D P S O H R I Z K D W % R X U G L H X F D O O V D X V X U S L Q J Y H Q W U L O R T X L V P . in which someone speaks in the name of something which is made to exist through this very discourse” (Bourdieu 1984/5:63yf 7 K H F R P P X Q L W Z K o speaks here is in part an artifact of the “order maintenance” approach, carefully selected and ordered before the fact and primed to speak the police’s language of order. In particular, it is a community of empowered consumers-citizens of revamped urban spaces such as the New Times Square.6 Trouble Corners and Hot Spots The discourse of community policing outlined above projects a space where the community and the police meet to work out effective strategies for social control. However, in my experience, these meetings were often a good deal more contentious and fraught than the relatively cheery and straightforward image that “community-police dialogue” implies. This was not because com- munity members resisted the NYPD’s requests to speak about their fears and worries. On the contrary, they embraced the opportunity; once they got started, they rarely ran out of material. This was especially true when they responded directly to police officers, whose presence at these meetings seemed to hold the promise of making their fears and confusions go away. Members of the com- munity would begin to think of more and more things that bothered them in their everyday lives. They would call these out, asking whether or not the po- lice could do anything about them in a spiral of questioning and curiosity. Their confusion about what the police could or could not (or would notyf G R R n their behalf seemed often to provoke suspicious or angry responses on the part of the police. It was as though the police were inciting the community to speak about signs of disorder and then interpreting the unruly results as though the community itself was a source of disorder. A good example would be the February 1998 meeting of the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association. This neighborhood covers the area just southwest This content downloaded from 18.104.22.168 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 258 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY of Times Square, and the association drew its members from the inhabitants of the lofts and tenements south of the Port Authority bus terminal, from Forty- First Street down to around Thirty-Fourth Street, and from Eighth Avenue all the way to the West Side Highway. This area is a notably unglamorous mixed- use area, full of old factories, warehouses, and parking lots. I had seen the black-and-white posters announcing a series of themed Neighborhood Asso- ciation meetings; the theme of this meeting was “Safer” and it was presented as a chance for area residents to “share their quality-of-life concerns” with offi- cers from the Midtown South Precinct.7 Although these posters were my intro- duction to the meeting, I assume that the primary method by which people were notified was through informal neighborhood networks of friendship and activism-lines of association that recruited some into the Neighborhood As- sociation while seeming to exclude others, as we shall see. When I arrived at the tiny community center just off Tenth Avenue where the neighborhood association met, the room was already packed. A large dele- gation of ten or so uniformed police officers, including the Midtown South commanding officer (COyf V D W R U V W R R G D W W K H I U R Q W R I W K H U R R P I D F L Q J W K e eager crowd. The meeting started slowly. An association board member made some opening remarks then threw the floor open to questions from the audi- ence. But before anyone could begin, there was a disturbance in the back of the room. Someone poked their head in the door and said something in Spanish; and a group of ten or so people, who had been standing together in a group and looking about uncertainly before the meeting started, filed out. I discovered later that a tenants’ rights meeting for Spanish speakers was being held that night in a building down the street. The people around me had been swiveling their heads over their shoulders to look at the group even before the interruption. They exchanged glances with each other and seemed hesitant to speak. Finally, one woman from the audi- ence spoke up, identifying herself as “someone who lives on ‘the border’,” in other words, as she explained, near the corner of Thirty-Ninth Street and Ninth Avenue, close to the boundary between the Midtown North and South police precincts. She said that there was a group of men who would call out lewd re- marks to her as she walked past the area. She thought the men, who she called “the harassers,” crossed from precinct to precinct in order to avoid police atten- tion, “like the border between the U.S. and Mexico.” The woman went on to describe these men as “drunken people from these little haciendas-or what- ever they are …. They’re also getting grabby. It’s like they set up camp on Thirty-Ninth and Ninth with their chairs and their bottles of beer-in broad daylight!” I was glad that the group of Spanish speakers had left at the beginning of the meeting. What would they have made of these remarks? I would prefer to presume that she felt comfortable making them since the group was no longer present, but I am not sure this is true. The fact that they were going to attend a meeting held in another language provides a concrete example of the lines along which the Hell’s Kitchen “community” is divided. As it was, nobody This content downloaded from 22.214.171.124 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms COMMUNITY POLICING IN NEW YORK CITY 259 present seemed to take offense. Rather, the woman’s story about “the haras- sers” on “the border” catalyzed an outpouring of related stories from those in attendance. The tiny room was suddenly filled with a clamor of voices relating stories: of people calling out threats from the corner of Thirty-Ninth Street and Ninth Avenue; of petty crimes like purse snatchings; or of “quality-of-life of- fenses” such as men drinking in public or urinating against the wall of a build- ing in plain view. Someone speculated that these men congregated around Mexican grocery stores and restaurants in that area. This remark, in turn, prompted a laughing wave of admonitions to the police not to close a favorite cheap Mexican restaurant on the same corner: “Don’t close Los Dos Hermanos!” Throughout these successive waves of stories, as people sat up in their seats and interrupted each other, laughing or looking serious as they told of their shared feelings of discomfort or danger, the men whose uniforms made a solid blue wall at the head of the room stood by impassively. Their faces were studies in blank composure. When the riot of stories died down, the officers simply replied to those who had spoken that they would investigate if there was a serious crime to report. However, they added that the men gathered on the corner of Thirty-ninth and Ninth did not present “a police problem.” The attendees looked stunned. Someone spoke up with a rhetorical challenge for the police: “So, what do you do if three guys say something really filthy?” One officer replied, “It’s called freedom of speech.” It seemed that the police were largely dismissive of both the challenge and the complaints as a whole. But they followed this by asking the audience to tell them more about what they called “other bad corners” and “trouble spots.” People immediately spoke up, mentioning particular street corners; complain- ing about seeing someone selling drugs on the sidewalk outside what they called “a bad restaurant;” naming a bar on Eighth Avenue, saying, “It’s a real trouble spot, and the building that it’s in, I see lots of kids that I would describe as male prostitutes.” Others complained about areas near the Port Authority bus terminal where manual workers would hang out and party loudly after quit- ting time and said that there was a “circus atmosphere” around the loading dock of a paper depot in the neighborhood. I could see that the delegation from the Midtown South Precinct was having trouble maintaining their looks of calm attention. They were losing patience, fidgeting and looking annoyed. Several times, either the Neighborhood Asso- ciation board member who had opened the meeting or the commanding officer from the police delegation attempted to cut the discussion short. However, each time they tried to move on to another topic, someone else from the audi- ence would speak up about another “hot spot.” It seemed that, once the atten- dees began to catalog their everyday experiences in the neighborhood in terms of “trouble corners” or areas where they felt uncomfortable or in danger, they tapped into a veritable geyser of stories. This was a well of narratives about gut feelings and fleeting impressions that seemed that it would never run dry. One intense-looking man, who had been sitting silently behind me during the entire meeting up to this point, shot his thin arm into the air and began to This content downloaded from 126.96.36.199 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 260 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY talk about what he called a “potential hot spot” on his block. He said that con- struction workers had set up a great deal of scaffolding near his building. The trucks parked on the street alongside the scaffolding made him feel hemmed in and endangered-“in a trap.” One officer asked if it was legal for the trucks to park there. The man replied that he thought it was, but he wasn’t sure; he said that the parking signs had all been knocked over by the careless driving of the construction workers. The police were visibly appalled by his answer. One of- ficer cut the man short, angrily demanding to know why “all you people aren’t coming to your Precinct Community Council meetings [see below] with these little petty concerns?”‘ There was a short, stunned silence following the officer’s outburst. With this, it seemed that the police were ready for the meeting of the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association to come to an end. Someone from the audience spoke up again with another “hot spot” story, but the officers simply ignored him. Instead, they quickly filed out of the room, leaving us in our seats, some with hands still in the air and more stories to tell. “It’s Pretty Obvious What the Police Should and Shouldn’t Do” The above example demonstrates that there are multiple systems of read- ing the everyday experience of the city for signs of “disorder” and that there are different ways to define and look for “broken windows.” The flexible, open-ended quality of the trope of the broken window seems to contradict one of the tenets of the concept of community policing as it is currently articulated in New York City. This is the idea that the police and the community should share, first, a single definition of order and second, a single definition of what constitutes evidence that order is under threat (a “quality-of-life offense”yf % X t such a state of consensus cannot simply be taken for granted. Consensus and order must be forged by specific actors, a process that involves ordering out di- vergent perspectives. Such was the case in the meetings of the Midtown North Precinct Com- munity Council, which was another organization of Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen area residents. The Precinct Community Councils are groups set up by the NYPD to mediate between the police and the residents of their territory, in this case the area west of Times Square but north of the neighborhood covered by the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association. Unlike the latter, the meetings of the Midtown North Precinct Community Council were kept in relatively strict order by members of the group. Nonetheless, these meetings produced the same narrative swamp that characterized the neighborhood association meeting. Once again, talk about broken windows risked becoming a broken window itself. The police and their allies in these meetings were presented with the challenge of shaping these narratives, which they heard as disjointed and disorderly, into usable crime data and rational dialogue. But, as with the neighborhood association meeting, the police seemed loath to do this narrative shaping. This content downloaded from 188.8.131.52 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms COMMUNITY POLICING IN NEW YORK CITY 261 Instead of mediating these stories themselves, the police delegated om- budspersons to assemble and speak for the community. The president of the Midtown North Precinct Community Council was one such figure. He was an urbane man, who worked as a producer for a national network news program. When I interviewed him, he explained to me that he understood his role in the community council to be a mediator, someone to help put speakers, stories, and listeners into their proper alignment. However, his actual role in these meet- ings was somewhat more complex than this. He was charged with producing that which the council claimed to represent: the orderly community. He did this by staging a definition of community that was both friendly to the NYPD and intelligible to it. As the council president explained, the purpose of the meetings was to im- merse the police in the everyday experiences of the Hell’s Kitchen community. “The more they [the police] know about a problem, the more likely [they] are to come up with a solution…. You hear a little old lady say that [she’s afraid of restaurant delivery men riding bicycles on the sidewalk], suddenly it puts a different spin on that particular motor code.” But the police could not or would not pay attention to everything that people complained about. Sometimes the council meetings produced stories about matters that ranged beyond the role of the police, as well as stories that didn’t seem to open up clear demands for ac- tion at all: I hate to tell people, “You’re wasting our time. Why’d you come to us with that?” You know, you try to be polite, but …. She [an older woman] always brings up health care. “Health insurance for old people in this country is a problem.” That’s true, but it’s not something that the police department is charged with dealing with. So she gets the floor to talk about whatever issue she wants, and then we just go on. Because some of these things are just not anything that the police depart- ment is charged to do anything about. As I attended more of these meetings, I began to notice the way in which the council president would lean forward intently when these seemingly aber- rant stories would start to unfurl. It was as though he was physically straining to find the kernel of rational police business within their unstructured, wide- ranging content. Only rarely would he ever interrupt anyone, and I never saw him cut anyone off outright. Instead, once the questioner had finished, he would often repeat a distilled version of their questions or try to find the gist of their rambling stories. When I asked him about these editorial practices, he maintained that he was just “the ‘flow control’ person.” He said that all he did to find the relevant issue in someone’s complaint was to determine whether or not their stories matched up to violations of the criminal code: It’s a question of “Is this something that the police should be doing?” If you have problems because you live in an apartment building with a [broken] vending ma- chine in the laundry room .. that’s not the police department’s problem to deal with. If you have a problem with prostitutes sitting on your front step, that is a This content downloaded from 184.108.40.206 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 262 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY police department problem …. It’s not arbitrary, it’s pretty obvious what the po- lice should and shouldn’t do. In fact, during the meetings I observed, he was at pains to craft the “obvi- ousness” of “what the police should and shouldn’t do” and to help the commu- nity to accept this. From our conversations, I came to see his actions in the meetings not simply as facilitating a dialogue between the two groups but also as marketing each to the other. This entailed a power dynamic firmly tilted to- ward the police. For example, he told me that he would give each community member who rose with a question only three minutes in which to speak, to en- sure that no single speaker dominated the proceedings. At the same time, he also mentioned that he would give the commanding officer from the precinct as much time to speak as he liked. In fact, he faulted his predecessor who used to cut the officer off in mid-sentence, which was, in his estimation, not only rude but harmful to the esteem in which he wanted the police to hold the community. The council president also told me that he would call on likely attendees about a week before every meeting to ask if they had any questions they wanted the police to address. He would then forward these questions to the pre- cinct. As he explained to me, he did this so that the police would not be taken by surprise by any requests for help or information. The advance notice let the police draft a complete answer to every question. In the meetings I attended, this practice had the effect of making the police appear extremely professional and quick to respond to community concerns, with little confusion or fumbling for words, let alone the outright hostility of the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association meeting. It also ensured that the police would carry away a good opinion of the community. They did not visibly scoff at anyone or react as though blindsided by outrageous or hostile requests. However, while the council president’s efforts were largely successful, they were necessarily limited by the formal structure and setting of the meet- ings themselves. The council met monthly in the dining hall of a halfway house and residential treatment center for the mentally ill. This was an interstitial space in the crammed built environment of midtown Manhattan-a place where the community could gather in the midst of a densely packed neighbor- hood that possessed very little indoor public space. The dining hall was sparsely populated at the meetings I attended. Most of the large round tables scattered around the room held only two or three people. We would all sit fac- ing the long table that dominated the front of the room, drinking tea and eating the stale chocolate chip cookies laid out for us by the staff of the treatment cen- ter. Seated at the long table were the four or five community council officials and the commanding officer from the Midtown North Precinct. The two or three police officers he brought with him to every meeting would either sit at the long table or stand beside it, expressionless. The meetings would begin with a salute to the U.S. flag. Once we were all seated again, the council officers would go over any questions left from the previous month’s meeting. The meeting would then move to presentations This content downloaded from 220.127.116.11 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms COMMUNITY POLICING IN NEW YORK CITY 263 from local groups, followed by questions for the police from the audience. The meetings were, for the most part, calm, unhurried, and efficient: a study in re- laxed dialogue. Someone would raise their hand with a question, for example, wondering what they should do about a suspected drug dealer working out of a building on their block. The council president would carefully rephrase the question for the commanding officer, who would then look thoughtful and re- ply that citizens needed to know how to inform the police about suspicious ac- tivity without getting themselves directly involved. And we would move on to the next question. Residents of the treatment center where the meetings were held would often be sitting around the room eating cookies and watching the proceedings, and at times, they would also speak up. On these occasions, the orderly exchange of information between community and police would begin to slip into what I thought of as a narrative miasma; a mire of tactile imagery or endless tangents. When I asked the council president whether he ever noticed this dynamic at play in the meetings, he laughingly agreed and told the following story: We have that young lady, she’s always there. … It was a few months ago. I called on her-her hand was up in the back, frantically [waves his hand in the air]-I called on her and she said [he adopts a slow, emphatic voice], “I want to know, what is the New York City Police Department going to do” (We’re all listening in- tently, like, “This woman’s right on target!”yf J R L Q J W R G R D E R X W D O O R I W K H V H V S D F e aliens walking around among us? There are more and more of them showing up every day; they’re walking down the streets with us. What are the police going to do about this?” The room went silent …. I didn’t want to insult her with, “What are you, a nutcase or something?” All I could think of was, “Space aliens are afed- eral problem. You’ll have to call Senator D’Amato’s office-let me get you the number.” I could just see Senator D’Amato’s office the next day calling, “Did you tell her to call us?” What he seemed to find funniest about this story was the fact that he was able to recover smoothly in the face of the woman’s question about the prob- lem of space aliens. Rather than dismiss her as a nutcase, he referred her to a governmental authority other than the NYPD. He was able to play with knowl- edge about “what the police should and shouldn’t do” in order to keep the meeting working and to avoid the disruptive potential of questions that seemed crazy or unintelligible. The same tactics also helped him to avoid other ques- tions, such as the concern about inadequate health care mentioned above, that might challenge the frame that the police draw around what constitutes a qual- ity-of-life problem. This is how he was able to construct, maintain, and sell the the intended role of the police in these meetings. The Citizens’ Police Academy The NYPD’s Citizens’ Police Academy is where community members can learn how to play this mediating role between the police and the commu- nity. They learn “what the police should and shouldn’t do” and how to convey this to others. I heard about the academy from several people I met during the This content downloaded from 18.104.22.168 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 264 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY early days of my fieldwork, including the council president, as well as promi- nent members of block associations, tenants’ rights organizations, and other community groups in the Hell’s Kitchen area. What the Citizens’ Police Acad- emy offers to community members selected by their local precincts is an abbre- viated simulation of the year-long training course that NYPD cadets undergo in order to become police officers. The program was set up by the NYPD in the early 1990s as part of the community-policing initiative under Mayor Dinkins. The course is given every spring. Classes are held in the resolutely nondescript Police Academy building on East 21st Street in Manhattan. For three hours one night per week for 14 weeks, the hundred or so attendees are split into four companies, based on the location of their home precinct. Grouped by company, they sit through classes taught by the police officers who work as instructors in the NYPD Academy. The topics covered range from constitutional law to fire- arms training and to testifying in court. At the end of the 14 weeks, there is a festive graduation ceremony; attendees receive a diploma and have their pic- ture taken with the Police Commissioner. Intrigued by the concept and encouraged by my informants, I decided to attend the Academy myself. I wanted to see what light the Citizens’ Police Academy would shed on the kinds of situations I’ve described above. The Academy intrigued me, both as a site to learn more about police training meth- ods and theories of social order, but also as an institution crafted by the police for the express purpose of interpellating key community members even more deeply into the police perspective.9 When my class gathered en masse in the Academy auditorium on our first night, we heard a speech given by the head of the Citizens’ Police Academy alumni association. He told us that we were “all very special people, singled out by police folks” to become mediators between the police and “our commu- nities.” He said that, if we heard someone in a meeting complain about how the police treated them, we should now think, “Wait a minute, I was in the Citi- zens’ Police Academy,” and intercede. These sentiments were repeated throughout our course of training. As one instructor told us later on, “What we’re trying to do is open the door a little and give you a little bit of insight.” However, the insights that the Academy instructors gave us were often am- biguous, if not outright frightening. In some ways, the NYPD portrayed itself as an unpredictable and violent force, indigenous to a similarly unpredictable and violent world. According to the instructors, the power of the police lies in their ability to gauge the world in terms of sources of potential threat-to read the hidden signs of crime. The picture they paint of the police worldview, scanning a threatening city for disorder that civilians cannot see, was far from reassuring. For example, in the class devoted to gangs and juvenile offenders, we watched a video purporting to educate police officers (and, in this case, members of the classyf L Q W K H D U W R I L G H Q W L I L Q J J D Q J P H P E H U V E W K H L U G U H V V D Q G E H K D Y L R U 7 K e video began with a woozy solarized tracking shot along a crowded school play- ground. This clip recurred throughout the video, framing the video as a whole This content downloaded from 22.214.171.124 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms COMMUNITY POLICING IN NEW YORK CITY 265 as well as providing segues between interview segments with people identified by subtitles as gang experts. The slow, wary scan of the playground appeared to simulate the perspective of a police officer, looking out the window of the patrol car as it rolled past an after-school crowd. The video distorted the ap- pearance of groups of children, making them harder to read. The unintelligible video image gave the scene an alien suspenseful quality. I was sure that the camera was going to pick out something: a fight, a mugging, a dead body. I found myself scrutinizing every out-of-focus bunch of kids, looking for the crime I felt sure would be there. Later in the video, the camera did another drunken and distorted pan along a night-time street scene. The narrator told us that gang members identify themselves through “distinctive clothing.” The image suddenly focused on a kid wearing a puffy jacket, zooming in until the label on the jacket filled the screen: “North Face.” I was taken aback. What were the makers of the video trying to imply with this shot? Wasn’t North Face just a regular, upscale brand name? Was there a gang that calls itself “North Face,” or whose members wore North Face garb? Whatever the message its makers intended, the gang video hinted at a world of menace to which prospective police officers had to learn to attune themselves. Nor was it clear that this world of threat was confined to the spaces of the city outside. One instructor asked our class, “You’re a police officer and you come into this room. You see 25 people, and what do you think?” An older woman called out, “Trouble!” and the whole class laughed. The instructor went on. “We don’t walk into the room and say, ’25 pretty people.’ We walk into a room and say, ‘Who doesn’t belong here?’ ” In effect, the instructor was agree- ing with the woman’s joke; the police looked at us, or any room full of people, and saw someone out of place, someone who “doesn’t belong:” “Trouble!” The academy instructors sometimes made the NYPD seem as dangerous and mysterious as the world that the gang video described. On one such occa- sion, our instructor blithely informed us that NYPD officers (herself includedyf carried concealed handguns nearly all the time, even when off duty. An imme- diate sensation of shock and dismay ran through the room. I watched the class recoil. People were outraged. They began calling out confused and angry ques- tions: “You’re kidding!” “Is this true?” “Is this safe?” “This doesn’t seem right. What if there’s an accident?” “What if they get drunk?” The instructor did not say anything in response. She just watched the questioners with an affa- bly blank expression on her face until they quieted down before moving on to another topic. At the same time, the instructors worked to frame the Citizens’ Police Academy in terms of a natural and egalitarian collective identity-a social con- tract encompassing citizens, instructors, the police, and law-abiding society as a whole. As our first instructor put it, “Most of the time, the things you learn in my classroom, you already knew.” There were several ways in which the form of the classes themselves reinforced this sense of a group that was already in agreement and in the know. The instructors would often engage the class in a This content downloaded from 126.96.36.199 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 266 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY staging of group consensus through a process of call-and-response dialogue. In a class on law, the instructor began by asking, “What’s our definition of law?” The class responded in unison, “Rules.” The instructor followed, “And if we didn’t have rules, how would we live?” The class answered, “Chaos.” The in- structor then asked, “Why? Aren’t we normal rational beings?” “No,” the class responded. The instructor continued: “We think we are, but we need structure. Other than that it would be-what?” But she answered her own question this time. “Survival of the fittest. What’s wrong with that?” Someone from the back of the classroom called out, “Some people are stronger than others. They may have a bias.” The instructor nodded. “The strong would prey on the weak. But isn’t that how it is? So we have these laws that are designed to give everybody a fair shot.” The instructors were also fond of opposing the relative informality of the citizen’s academy to what they described as the rigid hierarchy of the “real” police academy, in whose classrooms we sat. They did this by making a show out of setting aside any kind of strict authority structure in the classroom. The instructors repeatedly told us to raise our hands and ask questions at any point. “If you have a particular incident, something that happened to you that you want to share, just shout it out.” And they stressed how different this was, how much more natural, than the bureaucratic, authoritarian structure of the real NYPD Academy. Another way they highlighted this distinction was by slip- ping from one register of formality to another, for example, when one instruc- tor mockingly berated someone in our group for being poorly dressed and slumping in their chair. The instructor then turned to the class as a whole and commented, “If this was a real class, I would have cited myself for not shaving right before I came in.” Another instructor, after having a long argument with various members of the class over racism and the NYPD, applauded that we could all disagree with each other “and still leave as friends.” In short, the instructors worked to reinforce the feeling that we were all there together and bound by a common purpose. However, what that common purpose might actually have been was never explicitly raised for discussion. Instead, the officer-instructors claimed that what they taught was organically linked to social knowledge we already possessed. The back-and-forth dialogue exercises enacted this supposed natural agreement: they spoke; we answered as one. The instructors sought to maintain a frame of orderly questions and an- swers, with some room for “reasonable” personal digressions. And any dis- agreements we might have had were subsumed under our larger social en- meshedness. We could still “leave as friends.” But this straightforward framework of rational friendship and social contract was disrupted time and again. The people in class didn’t always act in a way that fit the instructors’ frame. As in the police-community meetings described above, participants would occasionally spill forth with endlessly detailed sto- ries that seemed to wander far from whatever the topic of the moment might have been. For example, during the class on “traffic stops,” an older man began a long, rambling story about getting pulled over by the police. The instructor This content downloaded from 188.8.131.52 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms COMMUNITY POLICING IN NEW YORK CITY 267 listened carefully to his story, unsuccessfully trying to find in it an apt subject for an explication of police procedure or the fine points of laws governing search and seizure. After a few minutes the instructor interrupted the man’s story and simply went on with the class as before. Most often, however, the class was pulled away from the instructors’ orderly format by the presence of one particularly intense woman. Always sitting alertly in the front row of the classroom, she leapt upon nearly every question the instructors asked, brandishing loud, lengthy replies. Her answers would be- gin as free associations on the instructors’ topics but quickly evolved into more rambling and digressive monologues, speeding up and growing more and more vehement as she went on. When she wasn’t speaking up in class, she didn’t seem to be at all hostile toward the officers who were leading the class or toward the NYPD as a whole. On the contrary, she was always the first to volunteer to pass out paperwork or readings for the next week’s classes. However, in her diatribes, she often seemed to grow progressively angrier as she stitched together topic after topic, as in this story that she told during a class discussion on crime: When I was growing up, everything was sending the same message. School, mu- sic, parents, your churches, your synagogues, newspapers: stay a virgin, go to a trade school. Now you’ve got the left wing saying one thing, the right wing saying another, the academics think they know everything, nobody’s on the side of the parents. We live in a greed-driven society. I don’t believe in money, I believe in barter, but we have all these people who neglect their children because they need to fund their lifestyle. . . . The feminist movement has lied to women, telling them they’re not worth anything unless they work. People have no shame, leaving their children to support their lifestyle, with their $190 Nike sneakers…. I’m a single mother. You can’t just hand your children up to day care! Whenever she began to speak, the rest of the class reacted visibly. Some sat forward to hear what she had to say, apparently fascinated. Others slumped back and muttered angrily to themselves or to their neighbors. Still others stared straight down, intently looking at their notes, their textbooks, or just at the tops of their desks.’o For their part, the instructors simply watched her talk. Their faces were perfectly composed, without expression. The only time I ever saw one of them react to her in any visible way was when, after trying fruit- lessly to cut her off, our instructor yelled “Excuse me for a moment please!” and stormed out of the room. He came back in after a minute or two and quickly apologized to her. He then resumed the class as though nothing had happened. Such moments served to illustrate the constant tensions that arose around the academy’s attempts to make us into a community with a single, or- derly voice. The police tried to set the terms of the relationship, but theirs was never the only agenda at work. Conclusion The meetings I have described were designed to produce social bonds and shared knowledge between the police and the community groups of New York This content downloaded from 184.108.40.206 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 268 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY City. This flow of knowledge and mutual sympathy is meant, ultimately, to re- duce fear by allowing the police to tap into citizens’ knowledge of their neigh- borhoods so that they might more effectively control crime, while also accli- matizing citizens to the presence of the police and thus lessen their threatening difference. They portray the police to these community groups as sympathetic, interested, and ready to remedy whatever threats citizens perceive in their eve- ryday lives. In many respects, these meetings did succeed in meeting some of these goals. The police were able to gather information about crime and qual- ity-of-life problems in Hell’s Kitchen, and many of the people with whom I spoke in the neighborhood and at the Citizens’ Police Academy told me that they appreciated the meetings and enjoyed getting to know more about the po- lice and their work. In these institutions of police-community dialogue, the police worked to interpellate a particular community subject, one that spoke with a unified voice on topics the police regarded as reasonable. These institutions attempted to cre- ate a community subject that, while not entirely stable or univocal, saw the so- cial world through what it imagined were the eyes of the police and to know how to give the police what they wanted. In this way, these meetings enacted some of the harshest and most troubling aspects of the dominant police dis- course on social order-the discourse on broken windows. First, the meetings privileged “community” perspectives, with the atten- dant dismissal of all those (workers, tourists, and visitors, not to mention teen- agers, the homeless, and petty criminalsyf Z K R U H V L G H G H O V H Z K H U H R U Z K R F R X O d otherwise be defined as “outsiders.” Second, while not every claim that people raised was taken with equal seriousness by the authorities, the meetings still served to perpetuate the idea that everything one encounters in the urban world is a potential criminal offense and thus carries within it the seeds of social col- lapse. The discourse of “broken windows” asks us to imagine a fragile world in which every social structure comes to resemble a greenhouse waiting to fall in on itself once some unthinking person throws the first stone. Third, no matter how much scrutiny the community meetings or the Citi- zens’ Police Academy placed on the police, their methods, and their training, it was ultimately the police perspective and police power around which these in- stitutions revolved. This perspective suggests that there does exist something called “order” to be maintained and “disorder” to be controlled. It further sug- gests that it is the proper role of the police to take these tasks in hand and that it is right for the community to scrutinize and edit itself-in effect, to discipline itself-to accommodate the systems of power and belief that the police claim to represent. Remarkably, even though the Abner Louima police torture case was in the headlines throughout my fieldwork, I never heard anyone refer to this, nor to any other incident of police misconduct, nor mention race in any explicit way, during any of my observations of meetings in Hell’s Kitchen or of the Citizens’ Police Academy. Yet, if the NYPD dominated the structure of the communications I have described here, they never did so absolutely. As the police struggled to maintain This content downloaded from 220.127.116.11 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms COMMUNITY POLICING IN NEW YORK CITY 269 the framework they desired, they sometimes came to view the community as a potential source of disorder. At the same time, the community they imagined remained fragmented by a host of individual and group agendas. These agen- das were not necessarily progressive or politically correct, as was demon- strated in the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association meeting by complaints about the Latin American presence in the area and, initially, in the meeting it- self. By playing into the dominant image of a closed, homogeneous community under assault by “outsiders,” they perpetuated or intensified the segregated status quo of everyday life and real estate in New York City. Conversely, other members of the community voiced critiques of a broad range of real or imag- ined social issues: dangers facing the elderly, the high cost of health insurance, insidious commodity fetishism, the plight of single motherhood, and even vis- its from space aliens. All these diverse concerns shared something in common with each other and with the narrative quagmire and spiraling questions in the stories above. They showed how, in the institutions of police-community dialogue, the people hailed as “community” simultaneously accepted, extended, and challenged the police ideology of crime and crisis and its language of “broken windows,” “hot spots,” and “quality-of-life offenses.” As they accepted the ideology of the po- lice and of the neoliberal sociospatial order in general, they extended this ide- ology as well, into realms of social justice outside the purview of the police. They also extended it deeply into the experience of everyday life in the city-specifically, everyday life in a rapidly changing neighborhood on the margins of the massive Times Square redevelopment project, in a city that is infamously dense, confusing, anonymous, and annoying in the best of circum- stances. They used the terms of the discourse of broken windows and quality- of-life to speak about, speculate on, and talk back to the transforming cityscape around them, as represented most vividly by the changes in Times Square and their impact on Hell’s Kitchen. In other words, they spoke the language of or- der-maintenance policing to narrate their experience of how their part of New York City was changing under neoliberalism, with its pairing of sweeping pri- vatization and the government’s abandonment of public spaces and services. In so doing, they often challenged the police themselves, either implicitly, when they demanded that the police address health insurance or housing questions, or explicitly, as in the moment of visceral shock when the class at the academy heard that off-duty NYPD officers usually go armed. All of these examples make the NYPD’s use of the image of “visible signs of a city out of control” vividly and ironically appropriate. The people attend- ing these meetings did their best to absorb the ideology of order maintenance policing, to feel and speak on its terms. They took the police’s image of “a city out of control” very seriously and worked with it as well as they could. But they were unable or unwilling to keep their talk about their “quality-of-life” within the bounds set by the police. Instead, they spoke about the changes they were witnessing in their neighborhoods and in the city around them-changes that broke all easy definitions of “order” and “disorder.” They saw and experienced This content downloaded from 18.104.22.168 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 270 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY a city around them that was indeed “out of control,” or certainly out of their control, in all sorts of ways: loud or threatening strangers; car and burglar alarms going off seemingly at random and ringing incessantly; bikes on the crowded sidewalks (usually ridden by underpaid immigrants delivering food to them or their neighborsyf K D S K D ] D U G F R Q V W U X F W L R Q Z R U N F D U V W U X F N V E X V V H V D Q d taxis jammed in the street; people sleeping on the sidewalks or in parks and va- cant lots. They saw that they could not afford health insurance, that rents and all the other costs of living in the city were shooting up, that fancy new corporate skyscrapers and apartment towers were being built a block or two away from their hundred-year-old tenement buildings. And they saw the police themselves, with their blue uniforms and sunglasses and guns, their air of skeptical detach- ment from the city around them, and their latent threat of deadly force. The reality of life in Hell’s Kitchen and similar neighborhoods far ex- ceeded, and still exceeds, the moralistic, black-and-white fable of community solidarity under siege offered by “broken windows.” As people do everywhere, the residents of Hell’s Kitchen experience multiple systems of order and multi- ple agendas for organizing the city in their everyday lives. Needless to say, most of these operate on scales far beyond the individual or community-group level on which these dialogues with the police were staged. So they responded to the police incitement to talk about these “visible signs of a city out of con- trol” with stories of fear and disorder that unfolded into unruly spirals of ques- tioning everything they saw around them, including things about which the po- lice would or could do nothing. Above all, these were stories at least in part about the larger changes people felt were disrupting their neighborhood, their city, and their place in the world-changes that were always present, even when only half-perceived, like a new office tower whose shadow falls 40 sto- ries to darken the streets below. Notes Acknowledgments. I would like to thank Ann Anagnost, the anonymous reviewers for Cultural Anthropology, and the many people who read or heard earlier drafts of this article and were so generous with their comments, including: Steven Feld, Kathleen Ste- wart, Donald Brenneis, Susan Harding, Greg Falkin, Terry Rosenberg, Susannah Staats, Henry Goldschmidt, David Valentine, Stephanie Brown, Heather Levi, Laura Kun- reuther, Brian Mooney, Susan Lepselter, Angela Torresan, Amy Paugh, and Elana Zil- berg, as well as all of the participants in the NDRI/MHRA fellowship program. I would also like to thank the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association, the Midtown North Pre- cinct Community Council, the New York Police Department, and the NYPD Citizens’ Police Academy. Partial funding for the research and writing of this article was provided by NIDA under grant number 5 T32 DA07233-16. The views expressed herein are solely those of the author. 1. Rudolph Giuliani was Mayor of New York City from 1994 until 2002. The Gi- uliani administration’s “order maintenance” police strategy entailed such diverse pro- grams as: the ComStat statistical mapping of crime data, which catalogs the spaces of the city in terms of “hot spots” and “trouble corners” where crimes tend to occur; anti-drug measures, from aggressive undercover sting operations up to the wholesale police This content downloaded from 22.214.171.124 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms COMMUNITY POLICING IN NEW YORK CITY 271 occupation of entire blocks in poor black and Latino neighborhoods such as Washington Heights; and organizations meant to foster particular forms of police-community dia- logue, like those described in this article. 2. Along with studying community policing institutions in the Times Square area, my research included interviewing city planners, architects, and real estate developers and observing (and eventually volunteering inyf D M R E D Q G O L I H V N L O O V W U D L Q L Q J S U R J U D P I R r misdemeanor offenders called “Times Square Ink.” (Chesluk 2002yf ) R U P R U H R Q W K H U H – development of Times Square, see Berman 1997, Delaney 1999, Gilfoyle 1996, Reichl 1999, Sagalyn 2001, and Taylor 1996. 3. Police scientists, criminologists, and others argue that the police need to develop closer ties to local communities. As George Kelling puts it, “The focus now is really on crime prevention. . . . And that implies getting closer to the community because the po- lice know they can’t do it alone” (James 1999yf 7 K H V H F R P P X Q L W F R Q Q H F W L R Q V D U H P H D Q t both to help the police draw on citizens as a source of crime data and to solve chronic problems of police practice, such as brutality, corruption, inefficiency, or anomie (But- terfield 1999; Editorial 1994; Faison 1994; Finder 1998yf . 4. This nostalgic bias against the disorderly present is not confined to policing or policy making; it also forms an important part of traditional sociological and anthropo- logical theories on the primacy of social order. Nicholas Dirks argues, “In most of our social scientific thinking, order is presented as a universal human need, an expression of reason and the basis of the social. Order thus becomes naturalized, while all that pro- duces and is produced by disorder becomes marginalized as extraordinary and unnatu- ral” (Dirks 1994:501yf . 5. Elsewhere I discuss my fieldwork at the Midtown Community Court, an organi- zation specifically set up by those involved in the redevelopment of Times Square in or- der to either remove these people from the public spaces of Times Square and Hell’s Kitchen or to transform them into more socially acceptable potential employees of the area’s new corporate tenants (Chesluk 2002yf . 6. For more on the social and spatial ramifications of “consumer citizenship” in the world of millennial capitalism, see Comaroff and Comaroff 2000 and also Dorst 1989, Sorkin 1992, among many others. 7. The themes of the meetings to come included “Cleaner” and “Greener,” reflect- ing the neighborhood association’s unusually sophisticated membership that included lay city planners and housing activists. 8. As it happens, when I attended one of the meetings of the Midtown South Pre- cinct Community Council, I was the only one present, aside from a few police officers and a representative of the Fashion Center Business Improvement District. He said that he was there to “respond to community concerns.” 9. An article on similar citizens’ police academies claims that the purpose of such programs is “opening channels of communication, dispelling myths and promoting un- derstanding between the people and their police” (James 1997yf . 10. Examples of these behaviors can be observed at any academic lecture or con- ference, especially in those uncomfortable moments when a lay member of the audience asks an “inappropriately” lengthy, detailed, or personal question. References Cited Althusser, Louis 1971 Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. In Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. Pp. 127-186. New York: Monthly Review Press. 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Princeton: Princeton University Press. Taylor, William R., ed. 1996 Inventing Times Square: Commerce and Culture at the Crossroads of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Wilson, James Q., and George L. Kelling 1982 Broken Windows: The Police and Neighborhood Safety. Atlantic Monthly, March: 29-32. This content downloaded from 220.127.116.11 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms COMMUNITY POLICING IN NEW YORK CITY 275 A B S TRACT Institutions of police-community dialogue in New York City assume that communities possess an intuitive and legally sound sense of order and disorder, on which the police can rely for information and support. However, staged dialogues between police and community groups can produce complicated situations of conflict and tension. While the police work to interpellate a friendly, coherent, and controlled community subject, city residents use the police’s ideological language of order to offer a critique of the police them- selves and of the sweeping neoliberal economic restructuring of the city around them. [New York City, police, Broken Windows theory, urban redevelopment, neoliberalism] This content downloaded from 18.104.22.168 on Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:52:35 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
ANT101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology Locating Scholarly Resources Worksheet Page 1 of 2 Week 2 Assignment 2: Locating Scholarly Resources Use the three articles that were assigned to you in the Article Selector Quiz. Review the tutorials on Finding an article in the AU Library and Finding thesis statements. Article 1: In the space below, copy and paste the reference that was provided to you in the Article Selector Quiz. Thesis Statement: Enter the thesis statement in the space below. Remember to enclose this within quotation marks and provide a citation with the author and page number. Article 2: In the space below, copy and paste the reference that was provided to you in the Article Selector Quiz. Thesis Statement: Enter the thesis statement in the space below. Remember to enclose this within quotation marks and provide a citation with the author and page number. Article 3: In the space below, copy and paste the reference that was provided to you in the Article Selector Quiz. Thesis Statement: Enter the thesis statement in the space below. Remember to enclose this within quotation marks and provide a citation with the author and page number.