Policing and Incarceration

Epidemic policing: The spreading of counter-radicalization in Denmark

This article offers a theoretical and ethnographic account of what I term “epidemic policing.” The article introduces the notion of epidemic policing to show how Danish measures for countering violent extremism are based on an epidemiological approach resembling the World Health Organization public health rationale, and how the field of countering violent extremism policing is itself expanding in epidemic ways. With an empirical starting point in ethnographic fieldwork among the police in Denmark’s second city, Aarhus, the article ponders the intersection between crime prevention and countering violent extremism in urban policing. The article shows that while traditional Danish crime prevention has been marked by conventional processes of securitization and topographical forms of policing, a particular form of topological policing is implied in the security logics of countering violent extremism. This new form of policing entails a reconfiguration of the epidemiological approach, including a diffusion of encoded risk categories, an expansion of institutional security infrastructures, and a de-territorialization of the space that is being policed. The article argues that this reconfiguration of Danish urban policing is a highly spatialized process, which has resulted in the co-production of intensified territorial control and an inert potentiality of policing everywhere in the city.

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Volume 38 Issue 3

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