We could use some tools of social control to use on police
You may have noticed I’ve not been writing much recently. That’s because I turned in the latest draft of my book, and then I promptly took a short vacation from writing. In fact I ensconced myself in a ridiculous crochet project:
which is supposed to be a physical manifestation of this picture proof:
which I discussed a few months ago.
Anyhoo, I’ve gotten to thinking about the theme of my book, which is, more or less, how black box algorithms have become tools of social control. I have a bunch of examples in my book, but two of the biggies are the Value-Added Model, which is used against teachers, and predictive policing models, which are used by the police against civilians (usually, you guessed it, young men of color).
That makes me think – what’s missing here? Why haven’t we built, for example, models which assess police?
If you looked for it, the closes you’d come might be the CompStat data-driven policing models that measure a cop by how many arrests and tickets he’s made. Basically the genesis of the quota system.
But of course that’s only one side of it, and the less interesting one; how about how many people the policeman has shot or injured? As far as I know, that data isn’t analyzed, if it’s even formally collected.
That’s not to say I want a terrible, unaccountable model that unfairly judges police like the one we have for teachers. But I do think our country has got its priorities backwards when we put so much focus and money towards getting rid of the worst teachers but we do very little towards getting rid of the worst cops.
The example I have in mind is, of course, the police that shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice and didn’t get indicted. The prosecutor was quoted as saying, “We don’t second-guess police officers.” I maintain that we should do exactly that. We should collect and analyze data around police actions as long as children are getting killed.