Police are perhaps the most visible face of American government and the decisions they make have life and death consequences. This course explores major questions in the study of the politics of policing, including debates over the societal role of police, the impact of police on crime, racial bias in policing, strategies for reform and the political obstacles that stand in the way.
Throughout, there will be a focus on learning the building blocks of social science research. Questions about the causes and consequences of various police activities are often hotly contested. Understanding these issues therefore requires the ability to distinguish high from low-quality evidence. We will learn how to critically examine empirical studies of policing, to spot basic logical errors in reasoning, and to credibly evaluate whether the evidence presented in a study supports its claims.