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Policing Space

Policing Space: Territoriality and the Los Angeles Police Department

Steve Herbert
Copyright Date: 1997
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsj2f
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  • Book Info
    Policing Space
    Book Description:

    Policing Space is a fascinating firsthand account of how the Los Angeles Police Department attempts to control its vast, heterogeneous territory. As such, the book offers a rare, ground-level look at the relationship between the control of space and the exercise of power.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8769-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-8)

    IT HAD BEEN A TYPICAL Saturday night in the Wilshire Division—the call load was high, the range of calls variable (from loud parties to shots fired), the need for help from units from other divisions occasional. It was typically busy, but not especially eventful.

    This busy complacency was shattered by the sudden dominance on the radio by reports of a pursuit. The chase actually began in the Hollywood Division but took over the Wilshire frequency because the two units are contiguous. And, indeed, the pursuit flowed into Wilshire, where, near a busy intersection, the suspect stopped his newly stolen...

  5. 1. TERRITORIALITY AND THE POLICE
    (pp. 9-24)

    THE INTERSECTION OF FLORENCE AND Normandie Avenues is now world famous as the “flashpoint” of the 1992 civil unrest in Los Angeles. It was the scene of the brutal beating of trucker Reginald Denny, and of a general mayhem that reputedly spread from there to the rest of South Central Los Angeles. Born at Florence and Normandie, the common narrative holds, a contagion of anarchy engulfed surrounding neighborhoods in chaos and destruction.

    Despite the seeming logic of this narrative, however, significant unrest occurred earlier elsewhere,¹ and it is not clear why Florence and Normandie has become the vaunted flashpoint of...

  6. 2. THE SETTING AND THE RESEARCH
    (pp. 25-34)

    THE WILSHIRE DIVISION IS ONE of eighteen patrol divisions of the Los Angeles Police Department (see Map I). It encompasses an area of about six square miles. The northern boundary is Beverly Boulevard. For most of the division, the eastern boundary is Normandie Avenue, the southern boundary the Santa Monica Freeway, and the western boundary La Cienega Boulevard. The southwest portion of the division, an irregularly shaped area south of the Santa Monica Freeway, is an exception to those boundaries (see Map 2).

    The social landscape of the Wilshire Division is tremendously varied. There is a significant mix of commercial...

  7. 3. THE LAW AND POLICE TERRITORIALITY
    (pp. 35-58)

    POLICE RESEARCHERS HISTORICALLY HAVE DEVOTED much attention to the issue of discretion. Many early and influential analyses of the police demonstrated that, regardless of what legal or bureaucratic regulations might stipulate, police officers possess considerable autonomy in the field.¹ According to this line of thought, legal and bureaucratic dictates are neither unambiguous nor capable of covering all possible contingencies. Further, officers are not directly supervised during most incidents. As a result, considerable variability is introduced into modern policing.

    Various factors—the time of day, the personal characteristics of individual officers, the nature of the call for service, the demeanor of...

  8. 4. THE BUREAUCRATIC ORDERING OF POLICE TERRITORIALLY
    (pp. 59-78)

    MODERN AMERICAN POLICING WAS TRANSFORMED by turn-of-the-century efforts to increase “professionalization” through effective bureaucratic control. Professionalization was a central component of the Progressive reform movements that attacked the corruption in many urban police departments.¹ Power was wrested from ward-level politicians and deposited in the hands of police chiefs who, via civil service protections, were made less vulnerable to shifts in the political winds. This faith in civil service regulations was part of a larger endorsement of scientific management, and this was seen as a way to increase police legitimacy.² The police were to be organized along clear, rationalized lines, with...

  9. 5. ADVENTURE/MACHISMO AND THE ATTEMPTED CONQUEST OF SPACE
    (pp. 79-98)

    THE TWO PRECEDING CHAPTERS HAVE implicitly adopted a neo-Weberian emphasis on the more legalized and formalized operations of the police and attempted to trace their effects on police practices of territorial control. An excessive focus on structural procedures, however, can obscure a fuller understanding of the practices of a state agency such as the police because a number of less formalized but no less significant impulses also structure such practices as police territoriality. In other words, normative orders other than the law and bureaucratic control condition how the police make and mark space.

    These orders are created and reinforced within...

  10. 6. SAFETY AND POLICE TERRITORIALITY
    (pp. 99-122)

    In this instance, concerns about officer safety outweigh the challenge of corralling a hostile and possibly armed individual. Regardless of the potential satisfaction of entering this scene and successfully controlling it, the officers quickly realize that their safety is compromised and beat a hasty retreat. The pull of adventure is suppressed by concerns about safety. This illustrates just one of the many situations in which the normative order of safety significantly determines how officers view and attempt to control space. This order in part works to temper the derring-do of more adventurous actions; it consists of numerous rules and practices...

  11. 7. COMPETENCE IN POLICE TERRITORIALITY
    (pp. 123-140)

    This example illustrates how the normative order of competence structures the territorial practices of police officers. The officers face two groups, both of which they believe are engaged in the illegal sale of drugs. In one instance they remain in their car and merely issue a warning. In the other, the officers jump from the car and detain and search the group. The more aggressive response to the second group results from that group’s attempted flight. Flight not only constitutes evidence of criminal activity but also is a direct challenge to the officers’ sense of competence. To allow the group...

  12. 8. THE MORALITY OF POLICE TERRITORIALITY
    (pp. 141-160)

    THE MORAL ASPECTS OF STATE power are a subject of increasing scholarly interest.¹ In these discussions, the state is seen as actively involved in creating its citizens through efforts to encourage proper moral development and deportment. These processes work toward the goals of internal pacification and cohesion: the morally well developed citizen is productive and dedicated to the nation’s overall welfare. This sense of internal morality can be developed through, say, particular educational efforts or various welfare programs. It can also be developed through the processes of defining a morally inferior other.² This process of social boundary construction has been...

  13. 9. MAKING AND MARKING SPACE WITH THE LAPD
    (pp. 161-176)

    WHETHER THEY ARE ACTING TO enforce the law, to obey a bureaucratic dictate, to demonstrate masculine prowess, to ensure safety, to display competence, or to enact morality, police officers regularly secure territory as a means of exercising social control. Territoriality is clearly a central component of police behavior, and it is structured by the six normative orders of law, bureaucratic control, adventure/machismo, safety, competence, and morality. These orders are constellations of rules and practices that, because they are centered on a celebrated value, provide structure and meaning to police actions. In constructing and controlling space, police officers enact some or...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 177-192)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 193-194)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 195-195)