When the law is applied in the absence of legitimacy, it does not produce obedience. It produces the opposite. It leads to backlash.
Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath:
A New York Times article reported on the NYPD’s Juvenile Robbery Intervention Program (J-RIP) created by Chief Joanne Jaffe:
[L]egitimacy is based on three things. First of all, the people who are asked to obey authority have to fell like they have a voice—that if they speak up, they will be heard. Second, the law has to be predictable. There has to be a reasonable expectation that the rules tomorrow are going to be roughly the same rules today. And third, the authority has to be fair. It can’t treat one group differently from another….
[W]hen the law is applied in the absence of legitimacy, it does not produce obedience. It produces the opposite. It leads to backlash.
The New York City Police Department has embarked on a novel approach to deter juvenile robbers, essentially staging interventions and force-feeding outreach in an effort to stem a tide of robberies by dissuading those most likely to commit them.
Officers not only make repeated drop-ins at homes and schools, but they also drive up to the teenagers in the streets, shouting out friendly hellos, in front of their friends. The force’s Intelligence Division also deciphers each teenager’s street name and gang affiliation. Detectives compile a binder on each teenager that includes photos from Facebook and arrest photos of the teenager’s associates, not unlike the flow charts generated by law enforcement officials to track organized crime.
On Thursday, November 21st, probationary Officer Peter Liang shot and killed Akai Gurley in the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project. A recent FBI Annual Uniform Crime Report determined that killings by police are the highest they’ve been in two decades. In 2013, there were 461 “justifiable homicides” by police which is most likely a significant undercount. In addition, this number would not include a killing such as Akai Gurley which will most likely be classified as “accidental.” The 461 “justifiable homicides” in 2013 doubles the number of people lynched in 1892 when there were 230 lynchings, the highest lynching totals in American history.
As we mourn the death of another person killed at the hands of police officers, we should examine the underlying culture that is responsible for these mass killings. In dealing with culture, one of the most important concepts to understand is something called implicit bias. Below is a definition provided by Kirwan Institute.
Defining Implicit Bias
Also known as implicit social cognition, implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.