The academy has long been a site for police experimentation. Disciplines like sociology, criminology, economics and the hard sciences, among others, have well-established deep partnerships with law enforcement, providing them with the veneer of empirical findings and the institutional credibility to legitimize their violence. This relationship is mutually beneficial: academic institutions work with police to sanction, strengthen, and expand police surveillance, while police offer academics the promise of advancing their research careers and securing lucrative funding contracts.
Not surprisingly, LAPD, which describes itself as one of the most “innovative” police forces in the world, frequently collaborates with academics in LA and across the U.S. These academics — like Jeff Brantingham, UCLA anthropologist and founder of PredPol; Andrea Bertozzi, a UCLA mathematician and key player in the development of predictive policing; and Andrew Ferguson, a law professor who advised LAPD on their strategic rebrand of predictive policing, to name a few — have provided LAPD with the intellectual groundwork for that innovation.
This timeline chronicles Stop LAPD Spying Coalition’s fight against academics complicit in the expansion and legitimization of the police state. We work with student groups, campus organizations, and allied faculty to uncover other forms of academic complicity in policing in universities across the country. Central to this fight are Public Records Act requests (“PRAs”), a tool that we use to uncover communications and other records between LAPD, academic researchers, and non-profit personnel. Through filing PRAs we learned how police developed “data-driven policing” and “community policing” programs in close partnership with academics and non-profits, often using the language of reform to sanitize their harm against Black, brown, and poor communities.