Suggested Answers to the Short Quiz

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Suggested Answers to the Short Quiz

Post by johnkarls »


Suggested Answers to the Short Quiz – Prediction/Surveillance vs. Engagement

The purpose of this Short Quiz and its Suggested Answers is to distinguish between the aspects of policing with which Prof. Sarah Brayne is dealing in our focus book (i.e., prediction/surveillance), and the aspects of policing which have captured so much publicity in the wake of the George Floyd killing on 5/25/2020 (i.e., engagement).

And to review briefly the current state of affairs in each area.

A. Prediction/Surveillance

Question A-1

Did Prof. Sarah Brayne study “up close and personal” for 5 years America's third-largest police department (behind NYC & Chicago)? Did the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) use (1) Palantir Gotham, a premier government-intelligence platform provided by a private-sector vendor, and (2) FredPol, the world’s largest predictive policing software?

Answer A-1

Yes, the Prof. Sarah Brayne studied the LAPD for 5 years.

And yes, the LAPD is the third-largest police department in America – with, inter alia (as of 2019), 10,008 sworn officers and 3,112 civilian staff and 1,650 cars, each equipped with its own laptop.

And yes, the LAPD used both Palantir Gotham and FredPol.

Question A-2

Are there in America a lot of overlapping policing organizations, such as sheriff’s offices and even so-called “fusion centers” which, post-9/11, conduct surveillance of terrorists with DHS/DOJ funding? Does the Los Angeles COUNTY Sheriff’s Department (LASD) function, inter alia, as a hub for 44 agencies?

Answer A-2

Yes – Yes.

Question A-3

How many counties are there in America? Do the overwhelming proportion of police departments and sheriff’s offices have fewer than 10 employees?

Answer A-3

Per the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 3,006 counties, 14 boroughs and 11 census areas.

The overwhelming number of police departments and sheriff’s offices have fewer than 10 employees.

Question A-4

Did Prof. Brayne study the LAPD with their permission for 5 years?

Answer A-4


Question A-5

Does everyone leave a “digital footprint” from credit-card purchases to Google searches to appearances in zillions of security cameras, etc., etc.?

Answer A-5

Yes – even newborns have birth certificates and hospital records.

Question A-6

Do policing data bases begin with criminal records? Are 2.2 million Americans currently in prison or jail? Are an additional 4.9 million Americans on probation or parole? Do 70 million Americans have criminal records?

Answer A-6

Yes – Yes – Yes – Yes.

Question A-7

Is there a plethora of additional data bases that police departments either add to their data bases or that they can access digitally?

Answer A-7


Question A-8

Can many tasks be performed reviewing quickly zillions of bits of information? For example, if the fingerprints of all 330 million Americans were available digitally, how many micro-seconds do you think it would take a computer system to identify the person who left her/his fingerprints at a crime scene?

Answer A-8

If you answered in MICRO-seconds, you were hopelessly had by whomever cobbled together that question!!!

Because MICRO-seconds are only MILLIONTHS of a second!!!

And for at least two decades, the response times of super-computers have been measured in NANO-seconds!!!

A NANO-second is ONE THOUSANDTH of a MICRO-second!!!

In plain English, a NANO-second is one BILLIONTH (i.e., one THOUSANDTH of one MILLIONTH) of a second!!!

Question A-9

Does TV programming feature zillions of law-enforcement shows? Do the more-recently-produced shows feature zillions of computer-analyses of such things as license-plate numbers, airline passenger lists, DNA, former addresses of suspects, whether two or more persons have any connection/interaction, etc., etc.?

Answer A-9

Yes – Yes.

Question A-10

Does all that pale in comparison to information that is available from private communications between/among individuals courtesy of FISA?

Answer A-10


Question A-11

What is the difference between “dragnet surveillance” and “directed surveillance”?

Answer A-11

Dragnet surveillance comprises surveillance tools that gather information on everyone, not merely those under suspicion.

Question A-12

Is the use of so much data beyond local police records new during the last decade?

Answer A-12


Question A-13

Is it effective in reducing crime? In stretching resources?

Answer A-13

According to Prof. Brayne, “the jury is out” on both questions.

Question A-14

Do police departments like to claim that using data to decide where to allocate scarce resources and how to employ them – is “following the science”?

Answer A-14


Question -15

Is one of Prof. Brayne’s major findings that the decision of what data to collect and the “algorithms” pursuant to which it used – is NOT NECESSARILY “following the science” BUT RATHER reflects the biases/prejudices of the human beings who make the decisions what to collect and who design the “algorithms” pursuant to which it is used?

Answer A-15


Question A-16

Does Prof. Brayne have quite a few recommendations regarding how to proceed?

Answer A-16

Yes – please read her book and then discuss it with us on June 9.

B. Engagement Between The Police and The Public

Question B-1

Is this where most tragedies dominating the news occur??? Routine traffic stops, answering domestic-violence calls, serving legal papers and making arrests???

Answer B-1


Question B-2

Do you think the use of body-cameras and dashboard-cameras are helpful in establishing at least some of the facts in police-public encounters?

Answer B-2

What do you think??? Let’s discuss!!!

Question B-3

Are there other policies that might improve the way police and the public interact? Does U.S. Senator Tim Scott’s 2020 JUSTICE Act contain quite a few such policies?

[NB: The text and section-by-section analysis of Sen. Scott’s JUSTICE Act are available at viewtopic.php?f=641&t=2060&sid=f2007862 ... 3492e6a5a4.]

Answer B-3

What do you think??? Let’s discuss!!!

Question B-4

Do news accounts report that the big “sticking point” between Democrats and Republicans is whether police should continue to have “qualified immunity” which requires most civil lawsuits to be filed against police departments rather than against individual police officers?

Answer B-4


Question B-5

Do judges and prosecutors have “qualified immunity”?

Answer B-5


Question B-6

Wouldn’t most economists (full disclosure – Yours Truly was an economics major for undergrad so he likes to think he knows something about economics) – say that, in theory, there isn’t much difference because if individual police officers are subject to a wider range of civil lawsuits, they will have to obtain insurance policies and police departments will have to raise salaries to cover the cost of the insurance policies in order to recruit/retain police officers?

Answer B-6

What do you think??? Let’s discuss!!!

Question B-7

Have the negotiations on federal police-reform legislation with U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) been led for the Democrats by Rep. Karen Bass of California?

Answer B-7


Question B-8

Did the NY Times report in a 3/4/2021 news article (“The House Passes A Policing Overhaul Bill Named For George Floyd, Whose Death Spurred Nationwide Protests”) that Rep. Karen Bass said on the occasion of this event that “There is tremendous good faith and good will between Sen. Scott and me”?

Answer B-8


Question B-9

Nevertheless, did the same NY Times article report that Rep. Karen Bass “conceded that there had been a ‘loss in momentum’ in favor of an overhaul since last summer”?

Answer B-9


Question B-10

Is this “loss in momentum” surprising in view of the failure of all the Black Lives Matter demonstrations and the omnipresent coverage of those demonstrations by the media – to “move the needle” significantly vis-à-vis public support for police not only among the general population but also among African-Americans -- in, for example, the Quinnipiac public-opinion poll of 4/15/2021?

Answer B-10

The 4/15/2021 Quinnipiac-poll questions dealing with policing and the answers of all Americans and Whites – Blacks – Hispanics (NB: there were many more breakdowns than these) --

Quinnipiac Question 49: Do you approve or disapprove of the way the police in your community are doing their job?

All – 74% approve – 21% disapprove – 6% DK/NA

White – 81% approve – 16% disapprove – 4% DK/NA

Blacks – 55% approve – 32% disapprove – 13% DK/NA

Hispanics – 66% approve – 28% disapprove – 6% DK/NA

Quinnipiac Question 50: Do you think the police in the United States are generally tougher on white people than on Black people, tougher on Black people than white people, or do the police treat them both the same?

All – 1% tougher on whites – 50% tougher on Blacks – 41% treat them the same – 7% DK/NA

White – 2% tougher on whites – 46% tougher on Blacks – 46% treat them the same – 6% DK/NA

Blacks – 0% tougher on whites – 79% tougher on Blacks – 10% treat them the same – 11% DK/NA

Hispanics – 0% tougher on whites – 55% tougher on Blacks – 42% treat them the same – 3% DK/NA

Question B-11

Is this the kind of imbroglio described by the famous quotation from a Shakespeare soliloquy describing “a tale…full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”?

Answer B-11

What do you think??? Let’s discuss!!!

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