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The Limits of Community PolicingCivilian Power and Police Accountability in Black and Brown Los Angeles$
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Luis Daniel Gascón and Aaron Roussell

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479871209

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479871209.001.0001

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Complaint Encounters

Complaint Encounters

(p.120) 4 Complaint Encounters
The Limits of Community Policing

Luis Daniel Gascón

Aaron Roussell

NYU Press

This chapter examines the negotiations over resident complaints—or what the authors call complaint encounters. In most meetings participants report complaints about crime and disorder in a specific and detailed fashion that can be part of a long series of discussions about recurrent problems over the course of months or years. The authors frame this chapter around three complainants to illustrate how officers define the likelihood of police service delivery in complaint encounters. Police will often cooperate with Mr. Palmer, whose complaints are clear and concise and have an existing police solution. Police will often control Ms. Carter, whose complaints emerge from racial antagonism as an underlying current of her perception of social disorder. And Sra. Santos is persistent in her resistance to police. Police rarely act in defense of Sra. Santos and her community, so her resolve is to hold police accountable at every turn. Police responses to these residents demonstrate how strictly police define the public’s “eyes and ears” function. Only when public and institutional interests align are complaints policeable. The entire collection of exchanges defines the Lakeside Division’s enforcement policy.

Keywords:   neighborhood disputes, public complaints, symbolic interaction, public service, police workforce, police legitimacy, governmentality, policeability

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