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Do police-community meetings work? Experimental evidence from Medellín

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In early September, 2020, ten days before the deadline for revisions to this volume, Colombians participated in the biggest anti-police protests in decades. Like the protests that swept the United States just months earlier, they were sparked by the heinous murder of a civilian by a police officer, caught on cell-phone video. Like the U.S. protests, they were fueled by frustration about underlying social, economic, and political conditions, including a president who fervently defended the police and demonized protesters. And as in the United States,
mobilization in Colombia pushed politicians to consider overdue changes — such as trying officers in civilian court rather than in the military justice system. We investigate the effect of town-hall-style meetings on police–community relations in Medellín.

Authors: Eric Arias, College of William & Mary, Rebecca Hanson, University of Florida, Dorothy Kronick, University of Pennsylvania, and Tara Slough, Columbia University, University of California, Berkeley, New York University

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