Policing, Communities and Law Seminar

This seminar will put the very recent events of police shootings and related legal and policy discussions into the classroom. The course will examine a wide range of issues—legal, social, race, gender and class among others—involving law enforcement and communities. While the topics will be wide ranging, race and class will be central to the discussions. The issues covered will be both historical and contemporary. All are urgent in light of recent events in cities and towns throughout the United States including Ferguson, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Cleveland and Baltimore; the recent Department of Justice investigations and reports of police departments in Ferguson, Philadelphia, San Diego and Seattle; DOJ’s current review of the Baltimore City Police Department; the recently issued Interim Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and a recently issued Plan for Police Reform issued by the Racial Justice Committee of the San Francisco Public Defender. Among the topics the course will cover are: police-citizen encounters (such as the stop-and-frisk litigation in New York City); law enforcement presence in public schools; residential requirements for police officers; police officer discretion; quality-of-life offenses; zero tolerance policing (including related litigation several years ago in Baltimore); community safety-related concerns and potential reforms. The course will explore issues of race, gender and poverty in the contexts of policing, entry into the criminal justice system and the impact of these various interactions on individuals, families and communities. The course will also examine the balance between the need for strong law enforcement, particularly in poor, marginalized communities, and effective law enforcement. The course will also explore potential advocacy strategies, such as litigation, legislative advocacy (such as “police accountability” legislation), policy advocacy and community education. It will then examine possible solutions, looking particularly at the recommendations set forth in the various DOJ reports as well as the President’s Policing Task Force report. While the course will cover issues across the United States it will focus particularly on Baltimore City, where the variety of issues plaguing police-community relations surface constantly and resonate deeply. Some papers written may be used to satisfy the Advanced Writing Requirement with prior Instructor approval. However, I will cap the number of papers that can potentially satisfy the requirement.

This course is not currently scheduled.
Last offered Spring 2019.

Key to Codes in Course Descriptions
P: Prerequisite
C: Prerequisite or Concurrent Requirement
R: Recommended Prior or Concurrent Course