Photo of Meena Roldán Oberdick

Meena Roldán Oberdick

  • Hosted by LatinoJustice PRLDEF
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location Long Island, New York
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area Police/Government Misconduct, Racial Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Meena (she/her/hers) will document and challenge the widespread effects of precision policing tactics used to surveil, police, and criminalize Latinxs on Long Island, New York. 

“Precision policing” presumes that police can predict and prevent crimes before they happen by concentrating investigations, surveillance, and harassment on so-called “hot spot” neighborhoods and communities. Although packaged as a solution to the sweeping overreach and racial disparities of stop-and-frisk policies, “precision policing” has instead intensified the racial disparities endemic to policing. In Long Island, New York, the information gleaned from the enhanced surveillance of particular “hot spots” has been used to create lists of individuals alleged to be involved in, loosely affiliated with, or at-risk of criminal activity. Although an individual’s inclusion in these lists is often prompted by entirely non-criminal criteria such as association, inclusion can have serious criminal justice and immigration consequences. Wherever the use of these lists has come to light, they have been shown to be over-inclusive, racially biased, and riddled with errors. Unfortunately, no comprehensive investigation has been undertaken to identify the full scope and effect of these tactics on Long Island, which is one of the most racially and economically segregated geographic locations in the United States and an area that suffers from a long history of intentional discrimination and racially biased policing against Latinxs. 

Meena’s motivation for challenging discriminatory policing tactics and the consequences of disparate police harassment is driven by her personal experience growing up in an intentionally segregated midwestern city to a first-generation, Latina mother, paired with her extended family’s own experience with deportation. 

Fellowship Plans

Meena will document, collect, and generate data about the discriminatory use and effects of precision policing tactics, including databases utilizing non-criminal criteria. She will work with community partners to develop and publish an empirical paper documenting the major findings of her project and provide policy and legislative recommendations to local and national stakeholders, media, and government officials. Building on her investigative findings and community partnerships, Meena will also develop administrative and litigation strategies to challenge the laws, regulations, and policies that enable discriminatory law enforcement practices based on race and association. 

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