Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Urban Policing

How Tech Almost Lost the War - And How We Still Might Win - Noah Shachtman, The Danger Room

It's interesting to note the recent spat of articles on the correlation between the number of officers in a city and the decline of crime during the 90s. What was found was an increase of officers typically did not correspond to a decrease in crime. What was found was that the integration of officers into communities had a highly positive effect where neighbors became comfortable being seen with and talking to the police. Once a rapport was established, the people began to help the police find the criminal hot spots and clear them out. The same has happened in areas of Iraq and typically it hasn't taken a new sort of weapon or some high-tech gear but a simple beat-cop approach to things. COIN operations call for this kind of action but it takes time and doesn't always promise results. The primary issue in this approach is that of trust--if the people you live around don't trust you then they won't provide the information needed to root out the criminal elements. Ham-handed and humiliating tactics are the exact opposite of what is required. The successes seen in the past few month are a testament to that. To reach anything approaching a stable environment for political action to take place such tactics need continue. The goal here is to pull out of Iraq as soon as possible and have no need to return five, ten or twenty years later. Hopefully this low-tech approach will allow this to happen.

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