Elliott Liu

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Graduate Center, City U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9237

Approve Date

April 8, 2016

Project Title

Liu, Ellliot J., City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Race-making and Police Technologies in Post-Civil Rights New York City,' supervised by Dr. Jeff Maskovsky

Preliminary abstract: In June 2015, seven months after Black Lives Matter protests erupted in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton announced a new policing plan entitled ‘One City: Safe and Fair Everywhere.’ The plan aims ‘to overcome decades of challenges between the police and the communities they serve.’ Curiously, a central component of ‘One City’ is ‘a year of technological transformation’ designed to remake the department from the ground up. Its proposed $433 million changes include a fiber optic network connecting all NYPD precincts; a modern data center undergirding the department’s new Domain Awareness System; and smartphones and tablets for patrol officers, to access data in the field. Echoing a central preoccupation of police forces across the country, and recalling the technocratic management style of the Bloomberg administration, ‘One City’ works to transcend accusations of racism through technological efficiency, which is seen as a key means of professionalizing policing and enhancing crime control. Yet the plan also sits in the shadow of the CompStat policing regime, itself a putatively colorblind, statistics-driven system widely condemned for deepening racial disparities in enforcement. In this regard ‘One City’ renews a history of modernizing reforms in U.S. police departments–starting with the publication of crime statistics in the Progressive Era–which recast the racialized objects of police power even as they strove to transcend ‘race prejudice.’ How might race be unsettled or remade by today’s post-racial policing? Taking technology as its starting point, this project examines reconfigurations of policing and race in the nation’s flagship police department: the NYPD.