stoplapdspying
Apr 4 · 4 min read

On Tuesday April 2nd, 2019, twenty-eight Professors and forty Graduate students of University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) sent a letter to the Los Angeles Police Commission to expose and reject the work of Jeff Brantingham, a UCLA Professor who co-created the predictive policing algorithm and tactic marketed as Predpol. The letter states that Jeff Brantingham’s scholarship “represents some of the most troubling legacies of the discipline of anthropology and of social science more generally..”

The letter was as follows:

April 2, 2019

Dear Los Angeles Police Commission,

We are writing to you in response to Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore’s references to the
academic support for the LAPD’s Predictive Policing and LASER programs. As UCLA faculty members and
graduate students in the department of Anthropology and in other departments, we are writing to clarify the extent of this support. Despite our reluctance to weigh in on this public debate, we feel compelled to respond to Chief Moore’s comments.

Our colleague Jeffrey Brantingham, an archaeological anthropologist, has conducted research on crime
modeling and predictive policing. He also co-founded Predpol, which was formed in collaboration with LAPD Deputy Chief Sean Malinowski and has, in the past, been contracted by the LAPD to administer its predictive policing program. Professor Brantingham and his co-researchers have drawn on the discipline
of anthropology to support their claims about the efficacy of predictive policing.

However, to the extent that Professor Brantingham and his UCLA colleagues represent an academic
stamp of approval of predictive policing and other algorithm based methods for Chief Moore, we wish to
make it very clear: there is not universal agreement or acceptance of the empirical merit and the ethics of their research at UCLA in anthropology as a discipline or in other disciplines.

On the contrary, many anthropologists and other scholars who read his scholarship believe it represents
some of the most troubling legacies of the discipline of anthropology and of social science more
generally. Among our concerns, which we can share in more detail, are (1) whether the research meets
the ethical obligation outlined in our anthropological code of ethics to ensure our research does not
harm our research subjects and (2) how the quantitative approach of the research naturalizes policies and practices that have had disparate impacts on Black and Brown communities.

Academics' concerns about predictive policing and Predpol in particular are not limited to anthropology.
Scholars in law, such as Columbia Professor Bernard Harcourt, math and data science, such as the Harvard-trained mathematician Cathy O’Neill, have also expressed their serious skepticism about the
empirical and ethical rigor of this research.

If the Los Angeles Police Commission is interested in the position of the academy, and UCLA
anthropology in particular, on Predpol and predictive policing, we say plainly and adamantly: this research does not have our universal support.

Signed,

Leisy Abrego, Associate Professor in Chicana and Chicano Studies

Tendayi Achiume, Assistant Professor of Law

Hannah Appel, Assistant Professor in Anthropology

Joseph Berra, Clinical Projector Director at the School of Law

Maylei Blackwell, Associate Professor in Chicana and Chicano Studies
Philippe Bourgois, Professor in Anthropology

Keith L. Camacho, Associate Professor in Asian American Studies

Genevieve Carpio, Assistant Professor in Chicana and Chicano Studies

Michelle Caswell, Associate Professor in Information Studies

Jessica Cattelino, Associate Professor in Anthropology Chandra Ford, Associate Professor in Community Health Sciences

Sarah Haley, Associate Professor in Gender Studies and African American Studies

Cheryl I. Harris, Professor of Law

Laurie Hart, Professor in Anthropology

Grace Hong, Professor in Asian American Studies and Gender Studies

Robin D. G. Kelley, Distinguished Professor of History

Rachel Lee, Professor in English and Gender Studies

Safiya Umoja Noble, Associate Professor in Information Studies and African American Studies

Sherry B. Ortner, Distinguished Professor Emerita in Anthropology

Sunita Patel, Assistant Professor of Law

Jemima Pierre, Associate Professor in African American Studies and Anthropology

Miriam Posner, Assistant Professor in Information Studies

Sarah T. Roberts, Assistant Professor in Information Studies

Ananya Roy, Professor in Urban Planning and Social Work

Eric Sheppard, Professor in Geography

Shannon Speed, Associate Professor in Anthropology and Director of the American Indian Studies Center

Timothy D. Taylor, Professor in Ethnomusicology

Noah Zatz, Professor of Law

Izem Aral, PhD Student in Anthropology

Megan Baker, PhD Student in Anthropology

Adam Barsch, Masters in Public Policy Student

Jess Bendit, Masters in Public Policy Student

Molly Bloom, PhD Student in Anthropology

Rosie Brown, JD/Masters in Public Policy Student

Kerry Browne, Masters in Public Policy Student

Burcu Bugu, PhD Student in Anthropology

Bradley Cardozo, PhD Student in Anthropology

David Clingman, JD Student

Casey Dalager, Masters in Public Policy Student

Addison Dickens, PhD Student in Anthropology

Matthew Erle, JD Student

Emma Hulse, JD Student

James Huynh, MPH/ Masters Student in Asian American Studies

Sucharita Kanjilal, PhD Student in Anthropology

Abby Kerfoot, JD Student

Kelsey Kim, PhD Student in Anthropology

Stacy Lee, JD Student

Jeremy Levenson, MD/PhD Student in Anthropology

Mary Lipscomb, JD Student

Sita Mamidipudi, PhD Student in Anthropology

Nicco La Mattina, PhD Student in Anthropology

Joshua Mayer, PhD Student in Anthropology

Cory Mengual, PhD Student in Sociology

Maria Nava, JD Student

Charlotte Neary-Bremer, PhD Student in Anthropology

Molly Oringer, PhD Student in Anthropology

Stephanie Keeney Parks, PhD Student in Anthropology

Hannah Pollack, JD Student
Sarah Rubinstein, Masters in Public Policy Student
Will Schlesinger, MD/ PhD Student in Anthropology

Alveena Shah, JD Student and Editor-In-Chief of UCLA Law Review

Matthew Simmons, JD Student

Kali Tambree, PhD Student in Sociology

Lauren Textor, MD/ PhD Student in Anthropology

Blanca Trenado, JD Student

Sonni Waknin, JD Student

Ethan Van Buren, JD Student

Brad Zukerman, JD Student

Across Los Angeles and surrounding neighborhoods; communities, organizations, and individuals have been coming together to expose and demand an end to LAPD’s Predictive Policing Programs.

Join us this Tuesday April 9th, 8:45am in Downtown Los Angeles: LAPD Headquarters, 100 W 1st Street, Los Angeles, 90012, as the Police Commission votes on acceptance of the Office of the Inspector General’s Audit and recommendations!

What do we say to Predictive Policing? SHUT IT DOWN!

    stoplapdspying

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    Taking a stance against wholesale criminalization via police surveillance. Rescind LAPD Special Order 1(1)!

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