Understanding Carbado's Model of Police Violence
*post currently in progress*
Devon Carbado's model of how "Blue-On-Black" violence is produced (and reinforced) by a combination of factors illustrates that racist police violence is NOT a matter of rare "bad apples". If anything, our system is a machine that PRODUCES bad apples, and this is how.
The Carbado model is very useful in examining the many elements that factor into the cycle of police brutality. Those who wish to reduce (or abolish) these events may find it useful to consider. For example, if we replace one element of this cycle without changing the others, the cycle will change, but not necessarily stop. For example, social workers would assumably not shoot people so much, but factor 1 and 2 would still be in place, at the very least. CPS, which is staffed and operated largely by social workers, takes away the children of Black families more often than white families, and has mishandled cases drastically with minimal to no followup, so the cycle there is less lethal, but still largely intact. While saving lives is a priority, all systems that prey on Black communities must be dismantled.
Their diagram breaks the cycle down into 3 elements that lead to police violence disproportionately targeting black people, and the 3 elements of the legal system that exacerbate and intensify the behavior.
- 1) RACISM LEADS TO REPEATED POLICE INTERACTIONS
- Proactive Policing (Broken Windows policing)
- Mass Criminalization (of trivial offenses)
- Racial Segregation
- Criminality Stereotype
- Group Vulnerability (LGBTQIA+, disabled)
- Revenue Generation
- 4th Amendment Law
- 2) REPEATED INTERACTIONS INCREASES EXPOSURE TO POTENTIAL VIOLENCE AND FOSTERS FURTHER BIAS
- Violence Stereotype
- Formal Arrest
- System Involvement
- Police Insecurity
- Rights Assertion / Resistance
- 3) POLICE CULTURE, TRAINING AND DISCIPLINE
- 10 Police Department Dynamics that Increase Violence
- lack of training on use of force & de-escalation
- militarization & warrior mythos
- training that depicts neighborhoods as war zones
- hypermasculine culture & training
- culture of community ownership
- lax internal review for use of force
- lack of bias awareness and disruption training
- officers that feel like their lives are always at risk
- failure to address sexual violence from officers
- "bad apple" solutions
- 4) RATIONALE OF JUSTIFIABLE FORCE
- Prosecutors decide whether force is justified OR if there's enough evidence to prove that it wasn't.
- Then Grand jury, and then judge/jury decide whether force is justified
- Bias factors into every one of those steps
- 5) QUALIFIED IMMUNITY AND INDEMNIFICATION
- Qualified Immunity is supposed to protect Police from paying the liability for all but the most egregious offenses
- But indemnity will pay for it anyway, even if it IS so egregious that there's a conviction.
- 6) DISINCENTIVE TO EXERCISE CARE
- “If police officers know that their violent conduct will be considered justifiable force or that they will be immune from civil liability or indemnified if they are found civilly liable, they are less likely to exercise care with respect to when and how they employ a violent force“. (Carbado)
Steps 4, 5 and 6 comprise the "rinse and repeat" part of the cycle, where the police officer is cleared of all wrongdoing and returns to work, knowing they're pretty much in the clear to do it again. The three main hurdles for an incident of police violence has to clear before justice can be served are justifiable force, qualified immunity and indemnification.
Seriously, if you want to fully understand WHY it (doesn't) work the way it does, go read Devon Carbado's paper on this model specifically, and then his related works.
- Devon W. Carbado
- Other sources