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Journal of Public Administration Research And Theory, 2016, 389401

Book Reviews

Book Reviews
Of Fergusons: Blunting Racialized Predatory Policing
Zachary W.Oberfield. 2014. Becoming Bureaucrats: Socialization at the Front Lines of
Government Service.
Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania. 236pp.
between workers and protesters appears as a chasm.
But, in fact, the gap between the protesters and the
workers Iknow is also razor thin; a good number of
my urban students enter the state, frontline workforce
as teachers, cops, social workers, probation officers,
public defenders, and youth counselors for nonprofits.
Like Victor Rios, a Latino urban ethnographer, many
of them credit the mentorship of frontline workers,
including cops, for their making it to university while
pointing to contrary experiences that pulled them and
many of their friends in the direction of experiencing the state as a youth control complex, the sum
of encounters with the frontline workforce that
collectively punish, stigmatize, monitor, and criminalize young people in an attempt to control them (Rios
2011,40).
The contradictory ways street-level workers influence the life trajectories of young people coupled with
the strong draw of conscientious urban college graduates to this line of work form contours of my own
inquiry over the last decade. Zachary Oberfields project was already on my radar as relevant to these issues,
leading me to order a copy of Becoming Bureaucrats
ahead of an email from Mary Feeney asking me to
review his book. It was easy to say yes at that moment
and now, a few months later (thanks Mary), Ireport
on Zachs framing of worker socialization, his logic of
inquiry and what he discovers about who bureaucrats are and how they are made, (Oberfield 2014,
2), the principal purpose of his monograph. Iwill tell
you now that it is a richly researched study of socialization well worth reading. After explaining why this
book deserves your attention and offering some critique (the essential requirements of a book reviewer),
Idraw broadly on my knowledge of frontline inquiry
and policing to gain purchase on Fergusons or what
I regard as organizational pathologies that constitute
young people as materialized objects of racialized

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Urban teens and young adults are particularly susceptible to the judgments and decisions of the states
frontline workforce. We know this in the extreme
as I began contemplating this review with events
unfolding nationally in and around the fatal shooting of Michael Brown and a grand jurys declination
to indict Ferguson, Missouri Officer Daren Wilson.
A few of these events occurred eyes wide open. At
the time, my home office looked out over Telegraph
Avenue, just a stones throw north of the Oakland
Border where, literally, twice the Berkeley Police
Department confronted scores of young people
attempting to breech the ramp to Route 24, a main
artery to the Bay Bridge, and disrupt holiday traffic
as an assertive protest tactic.
Rather than an old lefty on the streets with the protesters, Ijoined a group of locals who hang out at the
storefront indie coffeehouse of my multiuse, loft building, spelling the owners who needed rest after a couple nights of protecting their businesses against fringe
vandalism that always accompanies committed protest
activities. I, like many of the older Telegraph crowd,
became bystanders to the youth-led rebellion sparked
by Ferguson.
Most of the time, Istayed holed up in my home office,
pondering work and longing for holiday in the desert
while gazing out my loft window. Initial inspiration for
this project came to me in one of these moments as my
eyes moved iteratively from the protesters to the frontline workforce assigned to control them. Anumber of
my Cal-Berkeley students come from ethno-racially
mixed urban families and are active protesters passionately committed to reversing the long-standing assault
on African American and Latino/a youth by our state
institutions. At the same time, my ties run deep to
frontline workers who are the faces and agents of these
state institutions, law enforcement to public education.
When street confrontations occur, the social distance

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predatory policing practices and set in motion their


mobilization to challenge these conditions in the
streets. My emphasis is on both understanding and
blunting these organizational pathologies. Iapologize
in advance for dragging Zack Oberfield, in the form
of his book, into this topic, but clear connections are
made to hiswork.
Bringing Social Histories to the Workplace

1 This essay focuses on his time-series survey data, the main data set of
the monograph.

Citizen Agents; Not Bureaucrats


We all know that the concepts (and research questions)
we deploy in our publications have been backward
mapped onto the discoveries we achieve through the
analysis of our empirical data. Oberfields time series
of who workers are and how they are made points
strongly away from the idea of indoctrinated bureaucrats and instead, firmly establishes state frontline
workers defined by the kind of citizens they are upon
entering public service. So, on empirical grounds as
well, why introduce the idea of the bureaucratic personality? More on this obsession of mine below, but
first, lets turn to his insightful findings.
Oberfield finds more continuity than change, that
is, workers motivations, attitudes, and identities hold
quite steady over the course of their training and
through 2years on the job. Focusing on police officers and social workers, he finds that most entrants
are strongly influenced by where they started
2 Few scholars have followed up on Mertons interest in bureaucratic
personality. For follow up on what has and has not been done, see
Bozeman and Rainey (1998, 16772). They point out that most of the
work has focused on rule following among workers and managers
of public agencies and private corporations, rather than personality
traits. In their own survey work, Bozeman and Rainey report public
sector bureaucrats do not prefer rules more than private sector
counterparts [and] those who would advance academic assertions
and popular stereotypes about rule-craving bureaucratic personalities
in government have a good bit of explaining to do (1998, 184).

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Drawing on an extensive literature cutting across a


number of fields and disciplines, Oberfield puts forward two ways to think about the making of frontline
workersthey bring a dispositional perspective to the
job that is a reflection of the web of their social histories in contrast to an institutional perspective that
imagines work orientations shaped by bureaucratic
structures, norms, and processes (2014, 24; 2238).
To determine which or what blend of socialization
forces matter, he investigates motivations or why
people enter frontline work, their attitudes toward
the citizenry they serve, and their identities or sense
of self-understanding about doing this kind of work
(2014, 10)over time. Thats right, he tracks the continuity and change in motivations, attitudes, and identities of cohorts of law enforcement personnel and social
caseworkers from entry through 2 years on the job.
Implementation of this creative design enables Zach to
make well-grounded claims about how much workers
everyday judgments and practices are shaped by social
biographies and organizational manipulations. And,
like a triathlete, he complements his survey skills with
worker interviews and finishes off his investigative run
in observant participation (2014, 192) undergoing
training and working in a social welfare office for a
year.1 Ichallenge colleagues to find a more robust commitment to going the distance in service to the study of
frontlinework.
Oberfield stays true to tracking workers selfdescribed motivations, attitudes, and identities over
time, but oddly decides to bring these elements
together under the umbrella of bureaucratic personality rather than defending them as traits of long-term
socialization. In 1940, Robert K. Merton signaled a
worry about state agencies becoming overly focused on
rule following and routinized processing of cases over
the human qualities of client expectations and needs.
He introduced the notion of a bureaucratic personality to signal his concern that bureaucracies may select
a kind of person who is easily indoctrinated to give
primary concern with conformity to the rules [such
that it] interferes with the achievement of the purposes

of the organization (Merton 1940, 563). Mertons


questions at the end of his essay call for an investigation of how state organizations select and indoctrinate
who they hire when he asksTo what extent are particular personality types selected and modified by the
various bureaucracies and in as much as ascendancy
and submission are held to be traits of personality,
do bureaucracies select personalities of particularly
submissive or ascendant tendencies? (1940, 568).
Oberfield is rightly interested in rule following, but his
work is not an investigation of bureaucratic selection
or a search for a kind of psychological make-up among
frontline workers who, in Mertons words, are particularly submissive to bureaucratic norms. Instead
of concentrating on organizational selection processes,
including the deployment of psychological testing
tools, Oberfields empirical work is on the self-reported
attitudes of workers about what they bring to the job
as social beings and how steady they hold to these attitudes over 2years in the job. Late in the monograph,
he explicitly acknowledges that his survey focuses on
socialization and that given his tools of inquiry, it is
not possible to say whether or how personality played
a role in entrant development (Oberfield, 2014, 170).2

Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 2016, Vol. 26, No. 2

with the fact that many workers come from poor family backgrounds and have histories of receiving welfare in their personal biographies. That is, their social
histories define their draw and orientation toward the
job. But, even with these personal histories, caseworkers see welfare claiming as a product of individual, bad
decision-making (Oberfield 2014, 162). Ironically, they,
like most Americans, hold to the view that humans are
autonomous beings making their own destinies.
Though only faintly evident in Oberfields study,
other scholars studying social workers have tracked
how the institutional shift from welfare to workfare
has altered the job from field centered around client
needs to office centered around surveillance of clients
for conformity to job-related requirements and fraud
detection (Soss, Fording, and Schram 2011). At the
same time, scholars studying the shift to workfare
uncover substantial numbers of workers who undermine computerized accountability to meet their judgments about client needs. This tendency to defy and
resist automation of social work fills in the continuity side of Oberfields survey findings. Workers
do not check their personal histories and social histories at the door [instead positioning themselves]
as experienced guides building their relationships with
clients at the intersections of their personal histories
(Soss, Fording, and Schram 2011, 234). They are substantially citizen agents concentrating on who people are, putting their state power to work in enforcing
dominant cultural norms and expectations of civility
(Maynard-Moody and Musheno 2003). Rules can be
relaxed, even ignored for deserving clients and piled
on when workers cue clients by stereotype-consistent, discrediting markers (Soss, Fording, and Schram
2011,301).
Oberfield finds that caseworkers make categorical
judgments about welfare programs, for example, having consistently positive views of those that provide
services to children and the elderly (2014, 15860).
Programs supporting able-bodied adults receive discrediting marks by workers consistent with their societal unpopularity. Oberfield adds to our knowledge of
how dominant social and cultural ordering of society
is brought to the job with his revelations about how
workers credit and discredit certain programs.
Law Enforcement Personnel. Cops are substantially
motivated to join public service for altruistic reasons and are sustained by these motivations, based
on Oberfields survey results (2014, 93101). They,
more than caseworkers, are driven to frontline work
to serve othersno surprise to me. Nor am Isurprised
by the particulars of the other-directed motives that
Oberfield discovers propel people to enter the ranks
of law enforcement. Specifically, they give great weight
to protecting a particular other, their judgments of

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(2014, 169)holding to the motivations, attitudes, and


identities that they express at entry over the course of
2years. He uses differential continuity to note that
both the groups of cops and caseworkers he surveys
show modest shifts in motivation and attitudes fairly
early (in training or soon after) while individuals
remain in a similar position over time relative to their
self-revelations at entering public service (2014, 169).
Both cops and welfare caseworkers do not develop the
identities of bureaucratic rule followers and instead,
their dependency on rules wanes with time as they
draw more upon their personal identities to read
the people and situations they encounter on a daily
basis (Oberfield 2014, 139). As for worker attitudes,
the demeanor displayed by citizens they encounter
shapes judgments more than assessments of the structural conditions, the social and economic inequalities
related that give shape to everyday conditions of life.
The workers in his study bring to the job the dominant
American view that social problems are more a result
of individual choices and this perspective is echoed in
interactions with trainers, supervisors, and peers on
the job (Oberfied 2014, 1623).
With these overall findings, why not refrain from
referencing these public employees as bureaucrats
realizing that how a target group is socially constructed has serious implications for both the benefits
and burdens they will acquire (Schneider and Ingram
1997, 10249)? Certainly, academic use of bureaucrats to depict public employees who interact directly
with the citizenry evolves from Lipskys classic study
of Street-Level Bureaucracy (1980, 2010)and perhaps
Max Webers own depictions of bureaucracies (Weber
1946a, 1946b, translated by Gerth and Mills, 22144).
But, this linguistic characterization also contributes to
bureaucracy bashing by media pundits and politicians (Hubbell 1991) with the goal of undermining
social services, often with effect. For that reason, my
principal colleague related to this line of inquiry, Steven
Maynard-Moody, and Ihave shifted to use frontline
work and workers and citizen agents with serious purpose and empirical grounding as described
below (Maynard-Moody and Musheno 2003, 2012;
Musheno and Maynard-Moody 2015).
Caseworkers. Consider as well Oberfields depiction of welfare caseworkers based on his time-series
survey. They are drawn to this profession mostly by
egoistic motives, specifically job benefits, while giving greater weight to helping clients and treating people fairly as they take on the job. Emphasis on helping
clients and fair treatment diminishes after 2years and
instead getting owed benefits to clients while monitoring them for fraud ascends in importance. Oberfield
associates the strong draw to job benefits, a motivation
that remains dominant throughout the study period,

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honest, and accepting of their authority (Oberfield


2014, 162).
Blunting Racialized Predatory Policing
Oberfield ends his monograph on grounds fully consistent with the analysis of his time-series surveys. The
dispositions frontline workers bring to the workplace
guide their everyday judgments about the citizens they
encounter and act upon. Oberfield is rightrecruitment matters and with it, diversification is always
brought forward as a first-order reform, as is the case
with the U.S. Department of Justices (DOJ) articulation of remedies for interrupting the racialized predatory enforcement practices revealed in Ferguson (U.S.
Department of Justice 2015, 90102). While major,
urban law enforcement agencies have greatly diversified by rank and file (Sklansky 2008), the pace is
slower in smaller metropolitan cities and towns that
surround the core urban centers, places, like Ferguson,
where white flight combines with dramatic in-migration of ethno-racial populations to suburbs, and where
power remains in the hands of those interests trying to
hold on to thepast.
Still, diversification is no panacea and the literature
is unsettled on the ability of diversity to carry the heavy
load of reducing discriminatory policing and restoring
community trust (Sklansky 2008, 144). Oberfield finds
evidence that African American officers have somewhat
stronger orientations toward fair treatment and hold on
to this attitude longer. But, even more fundamentally,
he finds that the high degree of continuity in the judgments of law enforcement and social worker personnel
is due to their coming into the job as like-minded people, regardless of their ethno-racial identities. While he
attributes this attitudinal glue partly to recruitment, he
also sees like-mindedness driven by informal networks
where insiders may serve as recruiters and outsiders, as a talent pool with many police entrants joining the force after hearing from police family members
or friends that they could do the job (Oberfield 2014,
175). As academics dealing with our own recruitment
efforts, we are well aware of the pull of like-mindedness
and the tendency to replicate our intellectual orientations and the local cultures we labor to produce.
As Oberfield suggests, the real challenge is recruiting for difference amidst diversification. Finding and
securing recruits who complement the cultures of
newer populations of citizens migrating to a city or
town like Ferguson is a sizable challenge against the
replicating tendencies of organizations. But, it is also
essential that the qualities of difference evident in
the biographies of new recruits be sustained against
the grind of everyday work of law enforcement and
harnessed into collectives of workers who mobilize to

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law-abiding citizenry, and constituting a social order


that serves frontline workers imagination of this population. These order-inducing motivations are historically rooted in the formation of law enforcement as
Americas first municipal public agencies (Walker and
Katz 2008, 2839). Now, as then, public policing personnel see themselves in the business of lending support to stable communities, businesses, and families
and where these social institutions are under duress,
their job is to restore an order to things that favors
those citizens and businesses whose cultural norms and
social practices are regarded as conventional.
Law enforcement officers own social histories
serve as guides for setting a compass for who is to
be protected and what notions of order are enforced.
And, Oberfield finds that at least a third of the officers surveyed join law enforcement ranks based on
family influences, the signifier in the survey that
cops are inter-generationally bred. On the egoism
side, he finds that power is far less a motivator when
compared to benefits and the desire for excitement
in work. For law enforcement workers, formal training gives way quite quickly to informal influences,
particularly that of veterans and peers. And, particularly where the influences of the departments culture
and veterans are strong, officers move away from
altruistic motivations over 2 years (Oberfield 2014,
99101). But, compared to white officers, minority
officers are more likely to be motivated by the altruistic cues of protection and fair treatment and hold
on to them, throughout the 2 years covered by the
time-series survey.
Cops dont identify themselves as bureaucrats or
in Oberfields words process-loving rule followers
(Oberfield 2014, 138). Instead, consistent with the
larger opus of frontline scholarship, they are improvisational agents who draw upon their beliefs and experiences with people in real time, ultimately devising and
acquiring cultural schemas informally to guide them in
deciding whether and how to deploy their powers to
control those who interrupt the order of things and
serve those they deem as worthy citizens (MaynardMoody and Musheno 2003, 2012; Oberfield 2014,
139). Like the welfare caseworkers, law enforcement
officers give far less weight to the socioeconomic conditions of peoples lives and move increasingly toward
interactional moments to decide what, if any, actions
are required (Oberfield 2014, 141). Their empathy for
poor kids diminishes over time, but they do hold
strongly to the view that hard workers deserve a second chance (1478). But, even this mainstream framing of deserving citizens is a shaky cultural pillar for
guiding judgments when put up against the strong tendency for police officers to look for interactional cues
as to whether or not they see the citizen as cooperative,

Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 2016, Vol. 26, No. 2

3 Muir draws considerable intellectual inspiration from Max Webers


essay on Politics as a Vocation, in Weber, 1946b.

situations and being able to gain insights from fellow


officers and street supervisors. Freedom to talk and reason about the paradoxes of coercion on the job is what
reinvigorates the souls of individuals depleted by
the exercise of coercive powers (Muir 1977,282).
Ironically, law enforcement organizations are far less
hospitable to the generation of local on-the-job dialogic
space and the exchange of stories among workers and
with street supervisors particularly when compared to
social welfare offices and public high schools (MaynardMoody and Musheno 2003: 15365; Musheno and
Maynard-Moody 2015). Yet, ongoing efforts to reverse
racialized predatory policing practices and promote
reflective decision-making at the street-level is catching
on. Notably, Federal District Judge Shira A.Scheindlin,
who ordered substantial revision of the New York
Police Department (NYPD) practices, includes in her
remedies that officers must move away from checking boxes reflexively on their reporting forms for
explaining stops and instead provide narrative
descriptions in their activity logs that offer legal justifications and substantive reasons for initiating stops,
pat-downs, frisks, or searches.4 These efforts may help
frontline workers retain the characteristics and motivations that Oberfield finds workers bringing to the job
as new recruits.
Creating dialogic space must be combined with
mobilization of difference. At least in larger law
enforcement agencies, there are substantial signs
of democratic tendencies afoot within departments
pushed from the bottom up among diverse groups
of frontline workers. Specifically, collectives of workers, often formed through shared identities, are transforming monolithic police subcultures by internally
mobilizing (Sklansky 2008, 149). These pushes for
internal equality among identity enclaves of officers
are resulting in the formation of officially recognized
rival trade groups within large law enforcement
agencies which add competencies, including investigative strengths, to police departments. Such capacities are important because communities experiencing
predatory policing are under-policed as well, leaving citizens vulnerable to threats, collective as well
as individualistic. But, equally important, a part of
the internal democratization of agencies includes, in
some cities, alliances with community organizations,
with identity-based worker groups building bridges
to populations distrustful of the police, expanding
the agendas of policing organizations, and making
departments cultures more like the urban communities they police (Maynard-Moody and Musheno
2003, 746; Sklansky 2008, 14251). Such developments, from the bottom up and inside out, are crucial
4 See Floyd etal. 2013b at 68283. Order.

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bring the contributing cultures of newer populations


into a department that may be stuck in a mentality of
the community and social order that is no longer viable.
In Ferguson, the dominant mental imagination draws
from its long history of enforcing racial segregation.
Oberfield points us toward the importance of seeing
biographical difference as crucial to diversification of
law enforcement. However, he does not give us guidance as to how the richness of moral orientations that
come with differencing amidst diversification may be
sustained against the grind of daily policing. However,
William Ker Muirs classic monograph on law enforcement personnel as streetcorner politicians (1977)
does give direction for sustaining the high ground of
moral judgment.3 I have been teaching policing and
society courses since the mid-1970s spanning four
major public universities. Ihave used his treatise without interruption because of the extraordinary face
validity it garners, inspiring young, diverse, ethnoracial, urban college students to ponder law enforcement while receiving acclaim from student-cops who
say he gets it in terms of articulating the character
of the good cop and the struggles to hold onto those
qualities over time. Muir starts with a presupposition
now reinforced by years of frontline inquiry, namely
that law enforcement decision-making is driven by
moral judgments. Essentially, officers have a tragic or
cynical view of human kind, with cynicism an everpresent threat to the higher ground of the tragic view.
Complicating the terrain of moral judgment is the fact
that officers both wield coercive powers while they
are forced into defending themselves against recurrent
threats.
The hard work of cops is to get people to do what
they would otherwise resist doing while dealing with
citizens whose action orientations defy everyday ways
of dealing with trouble. Officers are thrust into situations of exercising their powers to secure changes in
peoples behavior who are dispossessed, detached, irrational, and/or seeking to gain face from others present
during an encounter (Muir 1977, 44). Muir sees such
encounters as creating paradoxes related to the exercise of coercive power. The good police officer develops
and maintains two virtues to navigate these circumstances. Intellectually, (s)he has to grasp the nature of
human suffering, Morally, (s)he has to resolve the contradiction of achieving just ends with coercive means.
A patrol officer who develops this tragic sense and
moral equanimity tends to grow in the job, increasing confidence, skill, sensitivity, and awareness (Muir
1977, 34). The enjoyment of talk or eloquence is
the singularly most important tool for handling these

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5 Oberfields study points away from the influence of institutionalism


on frontline decision-making but I am not at all sure the time-series
attitudinal survey method he deploys with the focus on law abidance
can capture the influence of performance-based policing. Oberfield
does find evidence that workfare has a sizable grip on the caseworkers
he studied (2014, 109).

Performance goals mutated over time into quotas


enforced with a vengeance in both cities, targeting
the most vulnerable and visible citizens or if you will,
easy marks for officers under extraordinary pressures
related to the most basic material needs in the workplace, namely keeping ones job, securing better jobs,
and securing salary increases. Scheindlin dismisses
arguments over the differences between performance
goals and quotas, and goes on to demonstrate with
vivid examples taken from the NYPDs own records
that the departments stop and frisk program is a
result of institutional decisions and directives in which
commanding officers announced specific quotas for
arrests and summons and threatened to reduce overtime for officers who failed to perform well, and reassigned to less desirable posts officers who failed to meet
quotas (see 591602, Opinion). As for Ferguson, the
DOJ report states City and police leadership pressure officers to write citations, independent of any public safety need, and rely on citation productivity to fund
the City budget (U.S. Department of Justice 2015, 10).
Patrol Division supervisors became productivity monitors who, pressured themselves, sent potent messages
to officers that their violations of law and policy will be
tolerated, provided they continue to be productive in
making arrests and writing citations (2015, 1112).

Law, Trust, andYouth


As we look for remedies to predatory policing, we turn
reflexively to the reformist quality of formal or high
law. In the case of the NYPD, cause lawyers from the
Center for Constitutional Rights successfully challenged
the pathology of stop and frisk and in Ferguson. The
Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice is taking the first steps to dismantle the pathology of racialized, shakedown revenue raising. Without the talent of
dedicated lawyers and the authoritative intervention of
high law, it is unlikely that such public service mutations
can be arrested. Yet, high law, in relaxing probable cause
standards related to stop and frisk, is also implicated in
the pathologies of discriminatory policing. The ruination of trust in policing that these institutional practices
have produced will not be healed by a stroke of high law
operating in its reformist mode and indeed, there is a
host of ordinances and other formal legal mandates that
need disassembled as well before law is immunized from
responsibility for the conditions of racialized pathological policing. And, behind the illumination of practices in
Ferguson, we lack concrete knowledge about practices
in medium and small town law enforcement agencies
throughout the United States, particularly in the suburbs
of metropolitan areas where demographics are changing
far faster than elective and administrative politics. And, we
know little about recruitment practices in these agencies,

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for the transformation of law enforcement agencies


that have lost substantial legitimacy with the populations they most need to serve and for breaking institutional tendencies that are productive of predatory
policing. Hiring for difference, an embryonic requirement that Oberfield surfaces through his multiyear
study, coupled with opening frontline discursive
space and enabling identity-based mobilization constitute necessary, though hardly sufficient, organizational frames for blunting Fergusons.
Clearly, enabling law enforcement agencies to
breathe difference has greater transformative potential for meaningful service than the mantra of establishment calls for community policing that always
arise when police are in crisis (U.S. Department of
Justice 2015, 90102). It is important to note that
aggressive stop and frisk tactics are a linage of broken windows policing, the brand of community
policing articulated initially by Wilson and Kelling
(1982) based on a modest and flawed field experiment in Newark, New Jersey.
The reality at the municipal policing level is that the
administrative apparatus of law enforcement and the
institutional apparatus that shapes top-down decisionmaking are combining aggressive tactics with crude
performance-based accountability measures (Sklansky
2010). The pathologies of racialized predatory policing
evident in both the NYPDs stop and frisk practices
and in Fergusson Police Departments traffic ticketbased, shakedown practices have deep markings of
these managerial practices. Interrupting this mode of
policing institutionalism is essential for Oberfields
idea of recruiting for difference amidst diversification
to have sustainable impact.5
The influence of institutional practices in shaping
ethno-racial disparities and discrimination is receiving increasing attention across the spectrum of public services (Soss, Fording, and Schram 2011). Most
recently, Epp, Maynard-Moody, and Haider-Markel
(2014) document how the structure of incentives,
training, and policy associated with investigatory
stops shapes ethno-racial disparities in police stops
on our nations highways and undermines the fiber
of law enforcement legitimacy. They give significant
attention to training, but it is in the incentive regimes
of performance-based policing combined with aggressive tactics that are the pathogens of New York City
stop and frisk and Fergusons traffic ticket shakedown practices.

Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 2016, Vol. 26, No. 2

MichaelMusheno
University of Oregon
musheno@uoregon.edu
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doi:10.1093/jopart/muv029
Advance Access publication October 1, 2015

Breaking the Silence: How Conversations about Race Can Influence Work
Practices and Interactions
Erica GabrielleFoldy and Tamara R.Buckley. 2014. The Color Bind: Talking (and Not Talking)
About Race at Work.
New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation. 216pp.
I recently attended a workshop that addressed how
faculty can effectively lead class discussions about
workplace diversity. One objective was creating a safe
environment in the classroom so that students can
engage in authentic dialogue. Astriking question asked

by several audience members was how do we initiate


the conversation about race? There we were, many
of us experienced instructors and researchers of workplace diversity, yet still uncertain about how or where
tostart.

Downloaded from http://jpart.oxfordjournals.org/ at Bodleian Library on August 20, 2016

including whether and how these organizations engage in


hiring for difference amidst diversity, an essential ingredient in the transformation of American policing brought
forward in Zachary Oberfields illuminatingstudy.
What we do know is that wherever the practices
of policing pathologies exist, ethno-racial youth will
bear their brunt. Losing their trust is the most costly
and the hardest to repair. We need to take stock in this
reality and the true agency of youth to be the first, the
vanguard if you will, to put the adult world on notice
and mobilize against such pathologies, from Selma
to Ferguson. When the adult world does get around
to responding, it is vital that the mobilization youth
generate produces an institutional channel for them
to tell us how everyday policing should be structured
to complement their ambitions and capacities, and to
ultimately encourage their diversity and difference to
repopulate the ranks of law enforcement and other
frontline government jobs. Absent their having a place
in agenda setting and sufficient trust to enter the ranks
of frontline work, we adults will see the next generation of youth on the streets raising hell and consciousness amidst the disruptions of our everyday commerce.

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