How Police Technology Aggravates Racial Inequity: A Taxonomy of Problems and a Path Forward
54 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2019
Date Written: February 24, 2019
Over the past several years, increased awareness of racial inequity in policing, combined with increased scrutiny of police technologies, have sparked concerns that new technologies may aggravate racial inequity in policing. In order to evaluate whether or not they do so, however, the problem must be more clearly defined. Some scholars have explored racial inequity in depth as it relates to specific police technologies. But to date, none have provided an explanation of how police technology aggravates racial inequity that can be applied across all technologies.
This article fills that gap. It offers a proposed new taxonomy that parses police technology’s aggravation of racial inequity as five distinct problems: Police technology may (1) replicate inequity in policing, (2) mask inequity in policing, (3) transfer inequity from elsewhere to policing, (4) exacerbate inequitable policing harms, and/or (5) compromise oversight of inequity in policing.
Naming and defining these problems will help police agencies, policymakers, and scholars alike analyze proposed new police technologies through a racial equity lens and craft policies that respond appropriately. To assist with practical application of the taxonomy, this article also offers a model racial equity impact assessment for proposed police technologies, and explains why the time is ripe for introduction of such an assessment.
Keywords: policing, racial justice, surveillance, criminal justice, policy, law
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