City Journal Winter 2016

Current Issue:

Winter 2016
Table of Contents
Tablet Editions
Click to visit City Journal California

Readers’ Comments

Charlie Beck, William J. Bratton and George L. Kelling
Who Will Police the Criminologists? « Back to Story

View Comments (13)

Add New Comment:

To send your message, please enter the words you see in the distorted image below, in order and separated by a space, and click "Submit." If you cannot read the words below, please click here to receive a new challenge.

Comments will appear online. Please do not submit comments containing advertising or obscene language. Comments containing certain content, such as URLs, may not appear online until they have been reviewed by a moderator.

Showing 13 Comment(s) Subscribe by RSS
Great, timely thinking by three distinguished thinker-practitioners. Dr. Kelling and Chief Bratton have been partners for close to 40 years and are renowned for knowledge-based, non-dogmatic solutions. Both have founded their philosophies in reality -- Bratton as a cop in A Boston blue and white and Kelling observing cops at work over countless hours. That said, they have eschewed received wisdom in favor of what Herman
Goldstein calls the "inhibited search for the tailor-made" solution.
I have become an admirer of the European legal system and the CCCP practice of party appointees in all segments of society.
The European legal system is fact based and so if the law was broken by the facts; result guilt!

Every organization tends over time to corruption, venial or cardinal and the injection into its running of a party official in the CCCP would control the corruption (poorly and to party member's benefit eventually)has merits for the free society.

Judicial officers just below the rank of judge would examine alleged crimes to determine transgressions, as occurred in Princess Di's death.
But also they would embed in all agencies of state to make sure that lax or corrupt failures or group think could not occur. As in the Madoff case.
The need not to have the Stockholm Syndrome would mean that their tour of duties need to be short, how short is a problem though!

Ayn Rand said it best: The looters and the moochers eschew objective reality in favor of ungrounded social theories. As long as there are wealthy fools to fund NGOs and a tax system that doles out monies for "studies," the inner-city streets will remain populated by criminals.
Gary Boatwright May 29, 2011 at 2:25 PM
The answer to the rhetorical question in the title of this article is that criminologists do not need to be policed. Criminologists do not deprive American citizens of their life, liberty or freedom. Jose Guerena link? was not gunned down by a criminologist.
Politicized social science is not the problem. The problem is politicized law enforcement. "[D]eveloping support among social agencies, reducing citizen fear, getting agencies like the city’s health department to meet their responsibilities, involving the private sector (through Business Improvement Districts and the like), . . . [and] fostering street civility, and increasing shopping in neighborhood stores" are not proper roles for law enforcement.
The primary data supporting the conclusion that SCI is a complete and total failure are documented by a 2008 study of the LAPD's own statistics: The LAPD continues to be one of the most politicized and overfunded law enforcement agencies in America.
Gary Boatwright May 27, 2011 at 8:54 PM
It should also be mentioned that Prof. Kelling was paid roughly $500,000 to help design the SCI. At the time he was a professor at Rutgers. Chief Beck and former Chief Bratton are more interested in empire building than fighting crime. The LAPD currently receives more than half of the total Los Angeles city budget.
In addition to having 40 horses and 19 helicopters at it's disposal, the LAPD's SCI makes skid row the most heavily policed community in America. The primary function the SCI serves is maximizing the LAPD budget. I have to wonder if Prof. Kelling is still being paid by the LAPD or if he is sucking up for another $500k consulting fee.
I just wonder how fast the crime rate will increase in California following the recent Supreme Court decision. The court ordered the release of about 40,000 California inmates. It not good for a state where bad news is quickly becoming the norm. It's not going to be pretty.
Good article. Must say it reinforces MY prejudice - that elites tend to force facts into preconceived molds, so that they can continue to feel elite. Perhaps I am as prejudiced as the politicized social scientists ...but then it may be to my credit that I am willing to consider the possibility that I may be wrong. ROTFFLMFAO.
Dennis Chevalier May 21, 2011 at 7:18 AM
Extremely interesting and useful information for those in the academic environment.
@Anna Gregorian. I don't think anyone is attacking intellectuals. That's like saying Kelling et al were attacking the police when they critiqued the ineffective methods they employed. Personally my problem is with "experts". An expert,incidentally, may or may not be an intellectual. The problem with experts is that they have all the answers. What we need to do first is ask all the right questions.

By asking those questions we can conclude that we don't need another round of reform. We must TRANSFORM the current system.
The economy will likely resolve our law enforcement problem.... We can't afford something that does not include the community and social change. However, it is interesting to note that first to get attacked are the intellectuals. Most advanced educational institutions, or at least I can say UC Berkeley, has abandoned criminology in favor of a broader view. But I have to say that in the SF Bay area I have seen an increase of criminality in the very institutions that are supposed to protect society... Who then will police the police..
Thank you - I hope to see more articles like this in the future.
This same politically correct bias is rampant in the current prison reform movement. Now it seems that many conservatives have been co-opted and herded aboard the anti-incarceration bandwagon. The proposition of improving our criminal justice system primarily through prison reform is wrong for a number of reasons. Most important of these is the fact that the premise for reform is faulty. Our criminal justice system DOES NOT rely too much on incarceration.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) at the end of 2009 our country had 7,225,800 individuals under correctional supervision. Of this number about 70% were on some type of "alternative" sentence rather that in prison or jail. Probation alone with 4,203,967 individuals under supervision made and makes up the major portion of the community corrections population. One could say that in this country incarceration IS an alternative sentence. If the goal of prison reformers is to shift the number of people in prison into alternative community supervision programs; Mission accomplished! Fixing our criminal justice system will require more than merely reshuffling bodies or altering sentencing.

The current system also relies on a flawed success measure-recidivism. If a person hasn’t returned to prison, is it because they’ve reformed or is it because they haven’t gotten caught? Perhaps an individual was rearrested in another jurisdiction but as long as he/she doesn’t return to the institution of release it’s counted as a success. Reliance on recidivism creates unintended consequences. Probation and parole officers are often instructed not to revoke supervision unless (until) a person commits a “serious” offense. Many major offenses can be prevented by revoking individuals at the first sign of trouble-usually after a “minor” infraction. To do so would be considered a failure in today’s system. Does this make any sense? Offenders can avoid rearrest and conviction while continuing to wreak havoc in the community. Reducing recidivism IS NOT the same thing as reducing VICTIMIZATION.

Some of the most important questions we must ask before we jump to the solutions is-WHAT DO WE WANT TO ACCOMPLISH and what is a relevant success measure? Do we want to continue with years of reform or must we now think of TRANSFORMING the system?

We can only hope that our learned scholars and practitioners come to their senses.

James Estrada
May 12, 2011
Via Web Page

Dear Gentlemen:
I read your article and understand your frustration with academics telling you the “right “ way to do things. I hold a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and am 6 months away from my Ph.D. in Public Safety Leadership. I have worked in corrections for many years and back in 1999 I became a Police Officer in Arizona. I am presently working in both fields of Criminal Justice in preparation for my dissertation.
A number of years ago I ran into a person that was permitted in the prison I was working in Arizona back in 1997. I was working overtime in Arizona’s Special Management Unit 2 which was where death row for men was located at the time. This academic was running up and down the runs talking to the inmates. Since we were short of staff and the academic had to be escorted when I took my break, they took their break.
During the course of the break this academic could not help but whine about how these inmates should not be locked up like that and made the statement that “They are all so well behaved, I looked at their records and none of them even has a disciplinary violation”. I looked at the academic, as I was a younger less educated and less temperate man than and I said “Are you stoned or are you stupid?” to which the academic was clearly shocked. I went on “You write someone a disciplinary violation to take they good time away (Arizona had at that time recently become a truth in sentencing state, so taking away good time meant they could lose 15% of their time). They don’t have store on death row so you can’t take that away with a ticket (disciplinary), you can’t take their visitation, and since they are going to be paroled to God there is no 15% to take away. There is nothing that you can do to them, so why would you waste your time writing them a ticket?” the academic was speechless. It is not that they are not breaking the rules, they are, it is a matter of you can’t do anything to them so there is no point in writing a ticket. Something so simple and obvious to someone that worked in that environment was a world of wonder to an academic.
This was my first experience with Sociologists and I must say that my view of most Sociologists has only been reinforcing of my initial observation. My initial observation being that they stick their fingers into law enforcement agencies operations of which they have no knowledge, with feel good policies or ideas that are utopian in nature in the class room but are frequently crushed by the reality of application. Unfortunately the Sociologists are never around to clean up the mess their ideas create.

Being that two of you are from the Los Angeles area you will probably remember the beautiful Palisades Park in Santa Monica, atop a cliff overlooking the sea. I was born in Santa Monica and have fond memories of riding my bike through that park as a youth. A number of years back a city prosecutor decided homelessness was not a crime and suddenly the homeless from everywhere moved into that park. They set up long term tents and killed the grass, they threw hypodermic needles all over and turned that beautiful park into a trash dump. The park that was there for everybody’s benefit and enjoyment was now an expensive toilet, which posed a hazard to the general public. Eventually the city was pressured to clean the park up, which was why there was a law against homelessness and camping in the park in the first place.
With Warmest Regards,
Hopefully soon to be, Dr. James Estrada (an academic that has sat in a cruiser for more than one night)