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20 Jul, 2020 16:43

Police chief hits back at Swedish scholars who suggest ‘racist’ force should be dismantled or reduced

Police chief hits back at Swedish scholars who suggest ‘racist’ force should be dismantled or reduced

A police chief in Sweden rejected as "political activism" the view of two university scholars who claimed that law enforcers are driving criminality up with alleged "racism," instead of solving the problem.

Lund University's Ida Nafstad and Amin Parsa wrote an opinion piece in a local newspaper Sydsvenskan, claiming that the police was "an outdated power based on structural racism". 

The scholars accused law enforcement of using minority groups "as a laboratory to test new and non-certified tools," such as face recognition technology. They cited IBM, which have previously said that such technology may promote "racial profiling."

The scholars added that by checking certain neighborhoods (the police's National Operations Department labels them "especially vulnerable areas"), the police produce crime statistics that legitimize more control of poor neighborhoods, while well-to-do areas are not controlled in the same way at all.

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Some districts in Swedish cities have effectively become no-go zones where, as some media report, even the police are instructed not to patrol. The police deny that such zones exist. 

In 2019, UPS postal service announced it had stopped delivering mail to some areas of Malmo due to the high risk posed to their drivers. 

Concluding their opinion article, Nafstad and Parsa suggested the police must be dismantled or, at least, reduced. That, according to the scientists, could be an alternative to the alleged racist tactics as people need more jobs, not police officers and drone surveillance.

Firing back, head of Gothenburg Police Erik Nord dismissed the article via his Twitter account on Monday. 

Nord said that "it is not uncommon for political activism, helpfully disguised as science," to flourish at universities and colleges. The officer insisted that most people would rather see more police on the streets than tax-funded activism in academia.

Nord has been rather a controversial person himself. In 2017, the country's attorney general vowed to launch an investigation over Nord's suggestions of deporting Islamic extremists from the country. The case was never opened, however, as the officer apologized for his remarks. 

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According to a study conducted for the Global Village Foundation, 53 percent of respondents in Sweden said that police development had moved in the right direction over the past five years. 

Official statistics show that the crime rate in Sweden has been more or less flat. In 2019, it was 15,064 crimes per 100,000 residents, down from 15,239 the previous year, and from 15,342 in 2015, the highest point during a 10-year period.   

Meanwhile, calls to defund the police have gained momentum in the US, where the Black Lives Matter movement believes Americans can survive without law enforcement as it is now.

This is a response to brutality and racial inequalities in policing. Defunding the force does not necessarily mean getting rid of the police altogether. Rather, it would mean reducing police budgets and reallocating those funds to education, public health, housing, and youth services.

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