Research Agenda

My research agenda focuses on the themes of public security, policing, intelligence, and civil-military relations. My work is primarily concerned with understanding how institutions shape the political behavior of security forces. Some of my work has focused on the role of the military in politics. For instance, I have studied what sorts of non-traditional missions in Latin America undertake, and why they do so. We found that the militaries of Latin America tended to advertise missions that would advance their corporate interest rather than those that made civilian leaders or society. In another piece, I studied why certain militaries refuse to follow orders to repress during instances of armed uprisings and why some have not. We found that disobedience grows out of material grievances, stronger affiliation with the public as opposed to government interests, rejection of internal public order roles, illegalities, and splits within the services. In addition, I have studied what factors shape public trust in the Army and the Navy in Mexico. We find that perceptions of corruption, along with individual and state-level factors, are important predictors of support for Mexico’s Army and Navy. While crime and violence have had a tremendous impact on Mexican society, crime victimization does not seem to undermine public support for the armed forces. In contrast, corruption in these institutions does undermine support. My latest work has focused on explaining the successful integration of police forces into intelligence-gathering capacities. We find that there are four critical factors determine the successful integration of the police into the intelligence: 1) the structure of law enforcement regimes; 2) how police are trained; 3) the strategic outlook police apply to intelligence gathering; and 4) the degree of embeddedness of police agencies in the overall intelligence framework. I am currently working to publish my latest work on police malfeasance in Latin America. In this book, I argue that the structural organization of the police and institutionalization of professional labor standards help reduce malfeasance in Latin America. This research helps us understand why, despite democratic growth in Latin America, violence and crime persist. My continuing research follows these themes by looking at how civil-war impacts crime and violence, how electoral changes increase cartel activity, and how internal troop deployment might have negative electoral consequences.