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Authoritarian Police in Democracy: Contested Security in Latin America, Yanilda María González

Reviewed by Krystin Krause

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Despite the third wave of democracy sweeping aside formal authoritarian institutions in much of Latin America, violent, predatory, corrupt, and discriminatory police forces continue to exist side by side with democratic institutions. Yanilda María González's new book Authoritarian Police in Democracy adds to a growing literature tackling the tension between democracy and policing. In it, she argues that the persistence of authoritarian coercion within police institutions is not just a holdover from an authoritarian past but also a result of normal democratic politics. Authoritarian policing practices persist despite transitions to democracy as a result of the interactions between citizens who demand protection, politicians who want to win elections, and police institutions that resist reform. The authoritarian nature of coercive force used by police in democracies is a timely question that will resonate not only with readers who are familiar with the literature on crime and policing in Latin America, but also with anyone concerned with corruption, discrimination, and the use of lethal force by police across the globe.

González rightly points out that democratization does not inevitably lead to what she calls “democratic coercion”—that is, coercion that protects citizens from crime, treats citizens eq

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