Reconstructing eighty years of history, Political Policing
examines the nature and consequences of U.S. police training in Brazil and other Latin American countries. With data from a wide range of primary sources, including previously classified U.S. and Brazilian government documents, Martha K. Huggins uncovers how U.S. strategies to gain political control through police assistance—in the name of hemispheric and national security—has spawned torture, murder, and death squads in Latin America.
After a historical review of policing in the United States and Europe over the past century, Huggins reveals how the United States, in order to protect and strengthen its position in the world system, has used police assistance to establish intelligence and other social control infrastructures in foreign countries. The U.S.-encouraged centralization of Latin American internal security systems, Huggins claims, has led to the militarization of the police and, in turn, to an increase in state-sanctioned violence. Furthermore, Political Policing shows how a domestic police force—when trained by another government—can lose its power over legitimate crime as it becomes a tool for the international interests of the nation that trains it.
Pointing to U.S. responsibility for violations of human rights by foreign security forces, Political Policing will provoke discussion among those interested in international relations, criminal justice, human rights, and the sociology of policing.