The Dream Revisited
Discussion 24: Policing and Segregation

Discussion 24: Policing and Segregation

July 2017

The twenty-fourth discussion examines the links between policing practices such as “stop and frisk” and race and class segregation and explores potential policy responses.  


  • Policing and Segregation

    by Jeffrey A. Fagan

    Contemporary policing practices combine advanced analytics to pinpoint allocations of officers, new forms of strict management accountability, and aggressive tactical enforcement of public order crimes or violations. Aggressive policing tactics such as high rates of investigative stops of pedestrians and vehicles, arrests for misdemeanors, and summons for violations of civil ordinances are racialized and focused in poor and largely minority places. These policing tactics reinforce segregation by imposing a criminal justice tax on everyday movements and activities. In places as disparate as Ferguson and the South Bronx, the threat of police contacts or criminal sanctions, with both monetary costs and the threat of jailing, raises the transaction costs for Black and Latino persons to move freely within their neighborhoods and outside of them.   


  • The Dynamics of Policing and Segregation by Race and Class

    by Monica Bell

    Heavy handed policing practices are inextricably woven into the experience of daily life in a poor, predominantly black or Latino urban neighborhood.  But policing practices also create dynamics that push people of color out of whiter and wealthier neighborhoods, thereby reinforcing segregation. When black and Latino families have to factor the possibility of facing police bias and violence into their assessments of neighborhood livability, their residential options are constrained by race.

  • The New Policing, Crime Control, and Harm Reduction

    by Anthony A. Braga

    Although an analytical approach to understanding crime patterns and trends can better position police departments to enhance public safety and security, overly broad police surveillance and enforcement strategies contribute to mass incarceration that disproportionately affects disadvantaged neighborhoods and reinforces segregation.  Law enforcement agencies should implement strategies that include community engagement and partnerships, which could assist in building opportunity-rich, safer neighborhoods while improving public safety. 

  • High Volume Stops and Violence Prevention

    by Philip J. Cook

    There is mixed evidence regarding the effectiveness of “stop, question, and frisk” practices in deterring violence and crime, and successes with the practice can come with tradeoffs for communities: while making high-crime neighborhoods safer can benefit residents and improve investment opportunities, there are also costs imposed on the often young, minority men who are the target of police stops. Improved approaches for preventing gun violence are a critical topic for further study and debate.

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