My dissertation uses police militarization as a case study through which to explore the interaction between criminal justice institutions and societal inequalities more broadly.
It examines the growing adoption of military strategies and equipment by law enforcement. In one of the most visible illustrations of this phenomenon, police agencies have increasingly acquired combat gear, such as armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and high-caliber weapons.
Using rigorous quantitative techniques (factor analysis, multivariate regression) and drawing on historical-comparative methods, this project is oriented around the following questions:
- How and when did police in the United States first become militarized?
- Is this simply a new trend or can it be traced back to the origins of American policing?
- How can we measure police militarization?
- What types of law enforcement agencies have become the most militarized?
- Are they disproportionately likely to serve more marginalized communities?
- Do more militarized agencies yield different outcomes – such as arrest rates or fatal shooting incidents – than their less militarized counterparts?
- And, finally, how can a deeper understanding of the role of the military model in American law enforcement help inform more effective and equitable policing?
In a project based on my Master’s thesis, I investigate the relationship between policing practices and immigration enforcement. I use quantitative methods to examine whether police agencies that implemented more progressive, culturally-competent policies – such as promoting community-oriented policing or prohibiting race-based policing – exhibited a lower rate of immigrant arrests than those that did not under the Secure Communities enforcement program.