Book Review: Hands up, don’t shoot: Why the protests in Ferguson and Baltimore matter, and how they changed America

Published date01 September 2023
AuthorKwan-Lamar Blount-Hill
Date01 September 2023
Subject MatterBook Reviews
of Criminology at Berkeley to take on what had been a seemingly impossible task through the years,
reforming a corrupt and ineffective Chicago Police Department. O. W. Wilson at the time was a
leading authority on policing. Balto (p. 155) points out that Wilsons administration was arguably
the most signicant in the departments history,in terms of reform and implementing professional
and sophisticatedpolice practices. Balto (p. 155) writes, It is no exaggeration to say that Wilson
changed policing in Chicagofundamentally and permanently.
While Chapter 5 begins with praise of Wilson in Chicago, the author takes an abrupt turn and
devotes the majority of the chapter making the case that many of Wilsons reforms, especially his
crime ghting reforms through aggressive preventive patrol, were to the detriment to Black
Chicagoans. He posits that Wilsons strategy of crime repression in Black neighborhoods was to
assign omnipresent uniformed police patrols in constellation with plainclothes ofcers, to engage
in stop, frisks, and enforcement of the smallest of miscellaneous crimes. Of course, Wilson
himself believed this strategy could have an impact on crime, in constellation with crime preve ntion
programs at the neighborhood level with full community support.
If Wilsons policing strategy in high crime areas in Chicago was what we now label hot spot polic-
ing, he might have been on to something. There is a growing body of contemporary research nding
that specic hot spot policing strategies have the potential of reducing crime. Is it possible that this is
what Wilson was attempting to do with his deployment strategies? If so, and the question remains, to
what extent was affected neighborhoods engaged before, during, and after the heavy police patrols?
Perhaps the book and specically Chapter 5 is an invitation for other scholars to examine Wilsons
strategy in Chicago from varying methodological lenses. With that said, Balto effectively makes the
case that Wilsons strategy further exacerbated police relations with Chicagos Black community.
Baltos work is seminal and a must read for any serious student of the police or for that matter those
interested in the intersectionality of policing and race. Reader s will denitely come away with a deeper
understanding of policing and Black Chicago, and the brutal and discriminatory police tactics that many
Black citizens experienced from the 1920s through the postcivil rights era in Chicago, and for that
matter continue to experience today. A key strength of this book is its accessibility to a wide-ranging
audience including students; scholars from varying disciplines who study race, policing, and/or criminal
justice; and others outside of the academic community who just have an interest in learning more about
this important issue, and how both implicit and explicit bias is interweaved through the fabric of justice.
Police ofcers may alsond the book insightful, and they may come away with a more informed under-
standing of the experiences of many Black Chicagoans. Moreover, it may offer police ofcers a lens that
they are most likely not accustomed to viewing this issue through.
Michael Birzer
Cobbina, J. E. (2019).
Hands up, dont shoot: Why the protests in Ferguson and Baltimore matter, and how they changed America. New York
University Press. 161 pp. $25, ISBN 9781479874415.
Reviewed by: Kwan-Lamar Blount-Hill ,City University of New York Graduate Center, NY, USA
DOI: 10.1177/0734016820912321
In the American system of government, we have given local police awesome power. Like soldiers at
war, everyday ofcers here carry death-dealing implements and deadly training. Unlike soldiers
404 Criminal Justice Review 48(3)

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