170. Policing/abolition technologies

Xerxes Minocher, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Nick Lally;

Since their inception, police have expressed the violence necessary for the state to produce and maintain social orders of racial capitalism. The deployment of new digital technologies within policing aims to support this foundational feature. Whether adopted under the guise of optimizing police functions, adapting to a changing world, or responding to calls for reform, digital technologies have become embedded in the daily practices of policing. Predictive policing, surveillance, biometrics, facial recognition, machine learning, and other digitally-mediated practices reflect attempts to shift to 'intelligence-led' or other 'data-driven' approaches that are part of a wider shift to proactive policing. Given the disproportionate use of violence by police against already-marginalized people, these 'upgrades' introduce new opportunities for harm alongside a widening surveillance creep that supports expanded forms of carcerality. As such, these technologies open new questions around justice, accountability, transparency, and the material effects of technologies. How can STS approaches contribute to understanding the shifting grounds of technologically-mediated policing and point towards radical political alternatives? We invite perspectives and approaches that critically interrogate policing technologies in their situated contexts or center resistive and abolitionist approaches-either as direct responses to new technologies, or as ways of imagining other political possibilities and social practices. This might include activist actions like campaigns crafted by Stop LAPD Spying Coalition; the use of public budget surveys to argue for divestments from policing; the creation of FOIA requests to interrogate technologies; leveraging existing data to challenge policing practices; experimenting with policing algorithms; studying the police ethnographically; and more.

Contact: minocher@wisc.edu, nicklally@uky.edu

Keywords: Method and Practice, Race/Black Studies and STS, Big Data, AI, and Machine Learning

Published: 04/07/2023