Zero Tolerance: Quality of Life and the New Police Brutality in New York City

Andrea L. McArdle

CUNY School of Law

April 2001

New York City in the 1990s was haunted by the fate of Amadou Diallo, Abner Louima, and Anthony Baez, among other men of color who were victims of police violence. This Introduction to the anthology Zero Tolerance posits that the tense relations between the NYPD and the city's less empowered communities were a product of many forces. A militaristic, crime-fighting police culture valorized aggressive responses and a siege mentality that saw danger in difference. Lacking a well-functioning system of accountability, the NYPD did not acknowledge the ways in which it criminalized difference. Framed as both a response and a challenge to official claims that intensified law enforcement produced New York City's declining crime rates in the 1990s, this anthology develops the connections between the most visible and familiar forms of police brutality that have galvanized grass-roots community activism, and the day-to-day violence that accompanied the city's campaign to police the "quality of life." Recognizing that it would be misguided to think of the NYPD as a monolith, or to assume that the problem of police violence is one that the NYPD created or can resolve on its own, this collection seeks to demonstrate that police brutality and the policing function more generally are part of the deep structure of a globalized, neoliberal society. Contemporary New York City typifies the moves toward redevelopment, internationalization, deregulation, and privatization that mark a new politico-economic order. The anthology examines how the zeal with which some NYPD officers have embraced quality of life policing and more confrontational anticrime strategies is a symptom of a broader and deeper social pathology linked to neoliberalism and manifested in an indifference to poverty, the exploitation of labor, and the devaluing of racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities. Contributors include Heather Barr, Derrick Bell, Paul Chevigny, Tanya Erzen, Dayo Folayan Gore, Amy S. Green, Paul Hoffman, Andre w Hsiao, Tamara Jones, Joo-Hyun Kang, Andrea McArdle, Bradley McCallum, Andrew Ross, Jacqueline Tarry, Sasha Torres, and Jennifer R. Wynn.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 16

Keywords: public order, policing, police brutality, criminal law, criminal justice, broken windows theory, quality of life policing, zero tolerance policing

JEL Classification: K14, K42

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Date posted: July 17, 2008  

Suggested Citation

McArdle, Andrea L., Zero Tolerance: Quality of Life and the New Police Brutality in New York City (April 2001). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1161331 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1161331

Contact Information

Andrea L. McArdle (Contact Author)
CUNY School of Law ( email )
2 Court Square
Room 4/309
Long Island City, NY 11101
United States
(718) 340-4348 (Phone)
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