Cop Watch: Spectators, Social Media, and Police Reform
In Cop Watch: Spectators, Social Media, and Police Reform, renowned social psychologist Hans Toch takes stock of the vast changes in police procedures that have occurred over the last half-century by examining the evolving role of spectators to police–citizen interactions.
This sympathetic and informed analysis details the concerns of both disgruntled citizens and unsettled police. Their interactions are played out on a broad stage, from 1960s riots and Kerner Commission findings, to 2011 accusations of police brutality in Seattle.
In this unflinching examination of the power of the crowd and society to shape police practice, Toch provides a uniquely compelling look at the struggles and complexities of policing in a volatile world.
I. West Coast City, 1967–1971
- The Clamorous Chorus
- The Concern With the Injustice or Unfairness of Police Interventions
- A Concern About Police Brutality or Disproportional Police Response
- Sensing an Unbridgeable Divide
- Rank-and-File Resistance to Community-Relations Reforms
II. Seattle, 2010–2011
- The Birth of Modern Policing
- A Video Clip in Seattle
- A Posthumous Chorus and Street Justice in Seattle
- Learning to Live With Due Process
- Volatile Scenarios in the Ghetto
About the Author
Hans Toch, PhD, is distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Albany at the State University of New York, where he is affiliated with the School of Criminal Justice. He obtained his PhD in social psychology at Princeton University, has taught at Michigan State University and at Harvard University, and, in 1996, served as the Walker-Ames Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle.
He is a fellow of both APA and the American Society of Criminology. In 1996, he acted as president of the American Association of Correctional Psychology.
He is a recipient of the Hadley Cantril Memorial Award (for Men in Crisis: Human Breakdowns in Prison), the August Vollmer Award of the American Society of Criminology for outstanding contributions to applied criminology, the Prix deGreff from the International Society of Criminology for Distinction in Clinical Criminology, and the Research Award of the International Corrections and Prison Association.
His research interests range from mental health problems and the psychology of violence to issues of organizational reform and planned change.
His books include Violent Men: An Inquiry Into the Psychology of Violence (1992), Living in Prison: The Ecology of Survival (1992), Mosaic of Despair: Human Breakdowns in Prison (1992), The Disturbed Violent Offender (with Kenneth Adams, 1994), Police Violence: Understanding and Controlling Police Abuse of Force (with William Geller, 1996), Corrections: A Humanistic Approach (1997), Crime and Punishment: Inside Views (with Robert Johnson, 2000), Acting Out: Maladaptive Behavior in Confinement (with Kenneth Adams, 2002), Stress in Policing (2002) and Police as Problem Solvers: How Frontline Workers Can Promote Organizational and Community Change (2005).
- ALA CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title
This book will work well in any undergraduate or graduate classroom examining policing reform or political reform more generally, police leadership or police work, public administration or law and society…I highly recommend this book.
Law and Politics Book Review
Another in a long series of trenchant and wonderfully observed musings on the problems of urban policing and the changes (and lack thereof) in the ways our street cops go about their work. This time around he focuses largely on the drama of policing as witnessed by the larger public who both cheer and boo police actions. Part historical, part contemporary, always synthetic and relevant, Professor Toch shows again why plus ca change, plus c'est pareil and just why. Cop Watch is a timely refresher course and extension of Hans Toch's impressive, long running concern with policing in America. This round he focuses on the wider audience of police dramas — the 'clamorous chorus' — and shows in impressive detail just how police actions are responsive (or not) to such attention. As always, scholarship of a lively and relevant sort that carries a reader along to a logical if disturbing conclusion.
John Van Maanen, Erwin Schell Professor of Organization Studies, Sloan School of Management, MIT
One can only be amazed by Hans Toch's ability to identify and give insight to an overlooked, but nevertheless critical, aspect of policing: watching of the watchers. In a book of considerable historical sweep, Toch asks important questions about how we watch the police and what this does to the police. Anyone who thinks deeply about the role of police will benefit from this book. As social protests once again become important in the United States, police too would gain from Toch's analysis of the interactions of the public and the police.
John E. Eck, PhD, Professor, School of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
Hans Toch examines the fraught nature of police–citizen encounters, which take place within multiple nested contexts: the predilections that police and citizens bring to the scene, the blinders imposed on them by race and culture, the crowds and neighborhoods within which these events are situated, the calculated rhetoric of the officers' bosses, and a rancorous political and media context which demands both order and reform. If this sounds like a recipe for stalemate, it is. Having observed this scene for decades, Toch has seen it all, and he is far from optimistic that the facts on the ground have changed much.
Wesley G. Skogan, PhD, Professor, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
This is an incredibly timely inquiry into the effects of 'the Greek chorus' that observes police activity, assesses it, and holds it accountable to community norms. Toch contrasts community relations efforts of the 1960s with the contemporary situation: a critical public armed with cell phone cameras, social media, daily blogs, and online commentary. He shows that today's police can use and learn from public feedback in ways unavailable to their predecessors — a surprisingly upbeat finding from this tough-minded skeptical scholar!
Candace McCoy, JD, PhD, Professor, The Graduate Center and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, and editor of Holding Police Accountable
Nobody but Hans Toch could have written this book. His scholarship has been defined by compelling insight and a sure voice, making the everyday work-world of justice come alive. There is a lesson on almost every page, something profound about police and we citizens; something to think about. This book did not claim to be about social justice, but in the way it tells us about the complexities of policing in a society that strives to be just, it is necessary reading for all who claim to love social justice.
Todd R. Clear, PhD, Dean, School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ
Hans Toch's latest book is a wise, judicious, and compassionate meditation on the enduring issues of police violence and community conflict informed by this master craftsman's half-century of inquiry.
Gary T. Marx, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, and author of Undercover: Police Surveillance in America
Toch astounds. Long regarded as the nation's most distinguished expert on the psychology of imprisonment, he now brings the same level of insight and erudition to the study of the police. This book further buttresses Toch's already legendary reputation for producing innovative theory that is grounded in rich empirical data. Written in his characteristically engaging style, it represents a major advance in the way we think about police–community relations in the modern technological age.
Craig Haney, PhD, JD, Director, Graduate Program in Social Psychology, and Director, Program in Legal Studies, Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz