Academic journal article Global Governance

Inside the Global Policing System: Liaison Officers Deployed in Washington, DC

Academic journal article Global Governance

Inside the Global Policing System: Liaison Officers Deployed in Washington, DC

Article excerpt

This article provides an original perspective on global policing by scrutinizing how international liaison officers perform their duties in collaboration with police agencies in the United States. By analyzing the experience of ILOs deployed in Washington, DC, the study focuses on the identification of adaptation strategies as well as the integration mechanisms they are employing to achieve their mission. The research uses the theoretical framework developed by Michel Crozier and Erhard Friedberg (strategic analysis) and scrutinizes the use of power and influence by ILOs as well as the game dynamic between US police-agency officers and international liaison officers. The findings show that international liaison officers are highly autonomous, but their experience in terms of adaptation and integration into the global policing system may vary greatly according to the strategies they are employing. Keywords: international police cooperation, global policing, strategic analysis.

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TRADITIONALLY, THE POLICING FUNCTION HAS BEEN A CORE COMPETENCY OF nation-states enforcing laws and investigating crimes within their national borders. However, challenged by international changes associated with the globalization of societies, several nation-states are attempting to shape a global governance system aimed at increasing their control or influence on priorities of other states. Often, this influence is limited by the sovereignty principle, (1) which certainly includes the police and justice arena. More precisely, this global governance system directs police and justice relationships that extend beyond national borders--without sovereign authority--for example, by influencing or forcing other states to comply and adopt similar policies, standards, and practices. (2) This system is often referred to by scholars as global policing or transnational policing. (3)

The globalization of policing happened gradually during the twentieth century through the creation and strengthening of international police associations, forums, and supranational institutions such as Europol and Interpol. (4) This international policing web sharply increased in the early twenty-first century, as nation-states have intensified their actions against emerging and pressing transnational security issues such as organized crime and terrorism. (5) Today, the global policing system is characterized by an imbalanced harmonization of laws and practices between nation-states, protection of sovereignty and subsidiary principles, multiple levels of cooperation, and supranational governing structures. In order to navigate around the obstacles of international police cooperation and the uncertainty related to a changing world, several nation-states have deployed a network of international liaison officers (ILOs).

Despite a growing interest for international police cooperation since the mid-1990s, little empirical studies have been conducted on the work of international liaison officers. In this article, I aim to provide an original perspective on transnational police cooperation by scrutinizing how ILOs are performing their duties with foreign national police agencies. More precisely, I offer an innovative approach to studying the integration and adaptation of ILOs deployed in Washington, DC. By analyzing the perceptions of these actors, I identify adaptation strategies as well as formal and informal integration mechanisms employed by ILOs. These strategies and mechanisms are used to circumvent numerous obstacles related to international police cooperation and to help ILOs assume their roles and functions within an environment characterized by high levels of bureaucracy, by the complexity of the legal frameworks, and by political sensitivities. In the study, I apply a theoretical framework borrowed from Michel Crozier's and Erhard Friedberg's strategic analysis approach to the work of ILOs as actors in the global policing system. …

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