Policing the ‘progressive’ city: The racialized geography of drug law enforcement

Mona Lynch, Marisa Omori, Aaron Roussell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


This article explores selective drug law enforcement practices in a single municipality, San Francisco, where racial disproportionality in drug arrest rates is among the highest in the United States. We situate this work in the vein of recent case-study examinations done in Seattle, Cleveland, and New York to help build a more nuanced picture of how the local geography of policing drugs produces racialized outcomes. Within this, we examine how historically embedded local politics shape the varied styles and structures of policing that result in racially discriminatory enforcement patterns. Our goal is to begin sketching out a robust framework of ‘place’ as an orientation for examining discretionary local policing practices, especially as they impact marginalized groups and communities of color.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-357
Number of pages23
JournalTheoretical Criminology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Drugs war
  • geo-history
  • policing
  • race
  • racialization
  • urban space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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