All posts by kevinkarpiak

Dept. of Sociology, Anthropology & Criminology Eastern Michigan University

Public Comments presented to Ann Arbor City Council on Civilian Oversight, Dec. 6, 2021

Hello, my name is Dr. Kevin Karpiak. I am a Professor of Criminology at Eastern Michigan University, Director of the SMART research project, and a resident of Ann Arbor. I am calling today to voice my objection to Agenda Item CA-24, “Resolution to Approve the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the City of Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor Police Professional Assistants” who are represented by the Police Officers Association of Michigan and whose resources fall within the administrative control of Ann Arbor PD. I object not necessarily to the content of the agreement but because of the process whereby it has come before council, which bypassed ICPOC, the Independent Community Policing Oversight Commission.

ICPOC was created, in part, to be a forum in which members of the community could discuss issues of public safety in order to provide recommendations that can ensure better-informed Council decisions. However, if ICPOC is not systematically included in that process, its potential to achieve its purpose is undermined. It is my understanding of ICPOC’s founding charter that any item City Council votes on, or City Administration plans to make a decision on, that pertains, generally, to public safety, or, specifically, to Ann Arbor PD and its resources, should go before ICPOC. It is my understanding that this was not the case for CA-24, nor for any number of other recent items, such as, on this agenda, CA-23 and CA-10, both of which also directly bear on the allocation of police resources.

If City Council is voting on it, if it pertains to public safety and the allocations of resources therein, ICPOC should be allowed to offer a chance to host a public discussion of it and provide recommendations to Council on it.

On a separate but related issue, I am looking forward to the report on unarmed public safety being prepared by the City Administration. As a member of the Coalition for Re-envisioning our Safety, a diverse coalition of community members who care deeply about transformative justice and building care-based safety in our community, I have witnessed directly the value of a community-led engagement on these issues. This has resulted concretely in our recent proposal for how such a plan might work. To date, over 500 people have endorsed our plan. I am greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm displayed by our community to explore an unarmed non-police service that can connect people to the resources they need, when they need them, without exposing them to additional risks. For that reason, I do hope that ICPOC has been given a substantive role in shaping the City’s recommendations—as the initial resolution says it should– and that it will be brought before ICPOC as part of a public meeting prior to any conclusions about the feasibility of such a program being offered or decisions about how to proceed with a potential program are made.

On whether Civilian Review Boards “matter”

Came across a new article in @ASR_Journal by @StanfordSoc Prof. Susan Olzak entitled "Does Protest Against Police Violence Matter? Evidence from
U.S. Cities, 1990 through 2019" (/1)

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00031224211056966

Continue reading On whether Civilian Review Boards “matter”

Talk: “Policing, Justice, and Community: An Anthropological Perspective”

I recently gave a “Lunch and Learn” talk for the Washtenaw County League of Women Voters on the topic of “Policing, Justice, and Community: An Anthropological Perspective” in which I outline why I think anthropological studies of policing can be helpful for thinking through some of the larger issues associated with policing today

What is the “work” in “Police Work”?

Exertions, the blog of the Society for the Anthropology of Work, has published a new series of posts entitled “Policing and Labor.” Many wonderful people have contributed to it, so I suggest you check it out. My own, “What is the ‘Work’ in ‘Police Work’,” briefly explores some of the political valences of the concept of “work” amidst the police reforms that are the subject of my upcoming book The Police Against Itself. Here’s more or less the punchline:

Continue reading What is the “work” in “Police Work”?

Today’s Correspondence

I’ve sent the following letter to my State-Level representatives (and aspiring candidates) today.  Fell free to copy, paste and edit as you see fit.

 

Dear [Insert representative],

 

Recently Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution (Resolution in Support of More Substantive Civilian Review of Policing Practices and Incidents) requesting our state representatives to move forward with a request to include citizen police oversight board members within the category of “law enforcement officials” for the purposes of allowing them access to the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN).  In my opinion, this was a measured and sound request both in terms of democratic participation and fiscal oversight (because citizens are not allowed access to the database currently, the AAPD has asked for and been granted a $170k/yr FTE so that a sworn officer can respond to oversight data requests.  We could save money, increase transparency, and arguably upgrade the available skill-set of that position if it could be filled by a civilian data analyst.

 

I was wondering what you are doing to move this issue forward?

 

In addition, in following the work of Ann Arbor’s Independent Community Police Oversight Commission (ICPOC) I have become aware of the Compulsory Arbitration Of Labor Disputes in Police and Fire Department Act 312 of 1969 and its effects on police reform in the state.  It is my understanding that this act gives police and fire unions a special status whereby an unresolved contract negotiation automatically enters binding arbitration after 30 days.  Whereas such arbiters typically resolve contract disputes by looking at prior examples, this is in essence a retrogressive law that makes it impossible to introduce even the most basic and popular reforms should they be found distasteful to the local police or fire union.  I would (1) urge you to make efforts in changing these onerous aspects of the existing law and (2) alert you to Senate Bill 0832 of 2020 and House Bill 5623 of 2020 which, shockingly, aim to extend these prerogatives to correction officers.  If there is anything I can do to help in these efforts, please let me know.

Donna Haraway’s “Critters”

image
Still from Fabrizio Terranova’s ‘Donna Haraway: Storytelling for Earthly Survival’ (2016)

I’ve finally been reading bits and pieces of Donna Haraway’s Staying With the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, which, I’ve been doing as part of a larger project to imagine the end of policing.

I had been meaning to do this for a while, but I was recently inspired her performance as discussant at a double panel at the American Anthropological Association Meetings I was a part of, honoring Aihwa Ong.  There were many wonderful moments there (one tidbit: Haraway, who became mega-famous for her essay “A Cyborg Manifesto,” declared that “Aihwa taught me more about cyborgs than anyone else.”  She was especially inspired by the complex entanglements of women and machinery in Ong’s first book, Spirits of Resistance and Capitalist Discipline) but it was actually one word that she kept using that stuck with me: critter. Continue reading Donna Haraway’s “Critters”

New piece, “Time, Regained” on Somatosphere Blog

I’ve recently published a piece of creative non-fiction–part of my forthcoming book The Police Against Itself–as part of the blog Somatosphere’s series “Notes on Guns and Violence.”  Below is an excerpt:

Continue reading New piece, “Time, Regained” on Somatosphere Blog

The Anthropology of Police, Karpiak & Garriott eds. (Routledge, 2018)

I’m happy to announce that a collective project I’ve been working on for a very long time (over 3 years!) is finally out.  The Anthropology of Police, edited by myself and William Garriott is now available for purchase in a variety of formats.  It includes contributions from Peter K. Manning, Jeff Martin, Matthew Wolf-Meyer, Jennie M. Simpson, Avram Bornstein, Katherine Verdery, Yagmur Nurhat, Erika Robb Larkins, Paul Mutsaers & Tom Van Nuenen, Didier Fasssin, Laurence Ralph and Heath Cabot.

Karpiak Garriott_The Anthropology of Police

You can use the promotional code on the above flyer to save 20% when you order directly from Routledge.    Below, you can also read the Introduction I co-authored with Will Garriott, as well as the rest of the front matter

 

My first novel, now completely Open Access

Sometimes One runs across forgotten things in the nether regions of One’s hard drive.  Today I can across this piece, an “abbreviated adventure novel” I wrote over fifteen years ago. Reading it again now, as I try to put the final touches on my ethnographic monograph, I’m struck by the continued sense of (w)rote formalism and disjointed narrative that constitute my attempts at describing contemporary life.  Anyway here it is in its entirety: my first–still untitled–novel.

I.

He didn’t know, one way or the other, any way of getting there.  Of course there was the usual way, but for that he didn’t have the stomach today.

“Charles, what’s the matter honey?  Don’t you have to go?”  Of course he did.  That was known.  If anything, knowing that was not the problem.

“What time is it?” he stalled.

“Time to go, or you’ll be late.”

Suddenly, something totally unexpected happened.

 

II.

Only later did it make any sense.

“You see, Turkmenistan had always had rather vague borders, let alone after the recent business with the Shah.  How else could One be expected to respond?” he said in the most surprisingly perfect English you’ve ever heard.  And after that, everyone could see the reason for his actions.

A jolly good laugh was had by all.

 

III.

Meanwhile, back on the homefront, Gina had been waiting seventeen years for the #52 bus to come down Balmora Avenue and was beginning to wonder if it ever would.  However, being recently informed of the exploits of Col. Major Thomas Waterpaint IV in the hitherto unexplored regions of the Belgian Congo and the peripheral Asiatic Caucasus, she took it upon herself to summon the intestinal wherewithal to initiate a maneuver of her own accord, on par with anything the above-mentioned hero had yet seen fit to dare.

“Miss Linda,” she called out.  “I don’t think I’m ‘bout to set here and wait for the #52 Balmora Avenue Bus today,” as she ventured her foot, attached to its stout ankle away from her place on the curb.

“But Miss Gina!” Linda called out in the wrong direction, facing not the target towards whom her warning was aimed but down the row, her eyes reflecting the terror of what was appearing over the horizon.

IV.

And so forth.

V.

“However, there is still one thing I do not understand, my dear Col. Major,” he said as he pored exactingly equal portions of an unspecified mixture of liqueurs into an unspecified number of vessels, “and that is how you could have possibly known what the Turk had been planning in the first place.”

“Quite simple, Mr. Harberry” he said venturing a sample from the proffered drinking vessel.  “Once I had heard of the unfortunate occurrences on Balmora Avenue, I knew there was only one possible course of action.”

“Indeed!” slurped Mr. Harberry.

“Yes, indeed” smirked the Countess, her haired pulled back tightly.

 

THE END