Hernan Flom

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Hernan Flom's picture

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Advisors: 
Alison Post, Leonardo Arriola, Ruth Berins Collier, Jonathan Simon
Subfields: 
Latin America
Methodology & Formal Theory
Academic Subfields: 
Comparative Politics
Personal Statement: 

I have recently completed my PhD, with a specialization in Comparative Politics and Latin American Politics. My main research interests lie in the politics of the design and implementation of public security policies, especially in explaining the incentives and behavior of state actors from the public security system -police forces, judiciary and penitentiary systems. I also study how public security politics and policies impact the evolution of organized crime and criminal violence, particularly in Latin America. 

My dissertation, Police, Politicians and the Regulation of Drug Trafficking in Latin America, analyzes how subnational governments regulate drug trafficking in Latin American metropolitan areas, that is, why and to what extent they confront, negotiate with or extract rents from drug traffickers and attempt to control its associated violence. While drug enforcement legislation is designed at the national-level, subnational governments -and especially state police forces- are often its primary enforces. In contrast with most of the literature on criminal violence, I focus on an often neglected actor in political science, the police, and on their relationship to subnational political authorities. I argue that political turnover and fragmentation influence police autonomy -police forces' capacity to self-govern and discretion in managing crime- and shape different regulatory arrangements of drug trafficking. When politicians are able to reduce police autonomy, coordinated regulatory arrangements emerge, with lower state violence, high yet centralized corruption and lower criminal violence; when police autonomy is high, uncoordinated arrangements prevails, with higher state violence, anarchic state corruption, and higher criminal violence. I test this theory in four metropolitan provinces in Argentina and Brazil -Buenos Aires, Santa Fe (Argentina), Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)-, where I conducted close to 200 field interviews and obtained quantitative data from government and non-government sources on police killings, homicide rates, drug seizures, and corruption practices. 

I also tackle the issue of politics of security and criminal justice in a coauthored paper with Alison Post, "Blame Avoidance and Policy Stability: The Politics of Public Security in Buenos Aires", forthcoming in Comparative Politics (October 2016). We argue that politicians and judges' incentives to avoid blame for rare but salient crimes explains the stability and enforcement of punitive criminal justice policies, while resistance from police sectors and political allies accounts for successive police reform cycles. This combination of persistent punitivism and reform cycles generates a perverse equilibrium in public security. 

I have also worked as a consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank, the Latin American Public Opinion Project, the Organization of American States and the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica (CIDE) in Mexico, among others. 

I am currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame. 

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