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The End of Policing

by Alex S. Vitale

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7571630,080 (4.12)14
Law. Politics. Sociology. Nonfiction. Recent years have seen an explosion of protest against police brutality and repression. Among activists, journalists, and politicians, the conversation about how to respond and improve policing has focused on accountability, diversity, training, and community relations. Unfortunately, these reforms will not produce results, either alone or in combination. The core of the problem must be addressed: the nature of modern policing itself. This book attempts to spark public discussion by revealing the tainted origins of modern policing as a tool of social control. It shows how the expansion of police authority is inconsistent with community empowerment, social justice-even public safety. Drawing on groundbreaking research from across the world, and covering virtually every area in the increasingly broad range of police work, Alex Vitale demonstrates how law enforcement has come to exacerbate the very problems it is supposed to solve. In contrast, there are places where the robust implementation of policing alternatives-such as legalization, restorative justice, and harm reduction-has led to a decrease in crime, spending, and injustice. The best solution to bad policing may be an end to policing.… (more)
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» See also 14 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
I'd been trying to read more book on abolition, so when I saw this on sale at Verso, it seemed like an obvious choice. Most of the abolition books I had previously read focused on prisons, and not much on policing itself, so this filled some holes for me in helping to unlearn a lot of bullshit I was still holding onto despite lots of evidence to the contrary.

This book's whole thesis is that it is the basis of policing itself, not overpolicing, not a few bad apples, not a lack of oversight, not a lack of "diversity training," not something are can fix with another reform bill or more body cameras, that is the problem. From the historical origins of policing to the way it exists on the ground today, it has always been used as a tool to criminalize and control the poor, minorities, anyone upsetting to those in power, all in the name of "safety," without ever saying out loud whose.

All that said, this book should not displace the works of Black feminist and anti-capitalist activists, whose work is more intersectional and rooted in justice and healing. ( )
  greeniezona | Dec 3, 2023 |
Interesting, albeit polemical, statement of why turning every social problem over to the police has been a disaster, and how more enlightened programs might improve lives and communities more productively. A stark argument is made that a policing system designed to suppress the people on the losing end of injustice cannot be reformed, but only cut back: that you cannot have both racialized ghettos marked by poverty, joblessness and insecure housing, and also friendly community policing to control them. I don't know if such radical pessimism is necessary.

The slogan of "end" or "defund" or "abolish" the police needs a rethink: the idea is to take away from the police the responsibilities they should never have been given (dealing with homelessness, drug addiction, mental illness, school discipline, etc.) and to build up programs that will work better than punishment, incarceration, and probation to heal and help people.

Wonderful as a thorough progressive reconstruction of America would be, it's not likely to happen. I still hope that less ambitious but critical and feasible reforms could change the nature of how America's disadvantaged communities are policed. Above all, Congress can legislate to reform the qualified immunity of the police to civil and criminal sanctions for excessive force and other constitutional violations. If it's all or nothing, as this book contends, then I fear for the future. ( )
  fji65hj7 | May 14, 2023 |
It's not like we didn't see his coming. ( )
  Kavinay | Jan 2, 2023 |
Anyone who has every supported the police should probably read this book. Shit is dire. ( )
  livertalia | Jul 16, 2022 |
DNF p.96. Nothing really new even with the update. Very much an academic treatise rather than an actual tool to reform.
  pacbox | Jul 9, 2022 |
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Law. Politics. Sociology. Nonfiction. Recent years have seen an explosion of protest against police brutality and repression. Among activists, journalists, and politicians, the conversation about how to respond and improve policing has focused on accountability, diversity, training, and community relations. Unfortunately, these reforms will not produce results, either alone or in combination. The core of the problem must be addressed: the nature of modern policing itself. This book attempts to spark public discussion by revealing the tainted origins of modern policing as a tool of social control. It shows how the expansion of police authority is inconsistent with community empowerment, social justice-even public safety. Drawing on groundbreaking research from across the world, and covering virtually every area in the increasingly broad range of police work, Alex Vitale demonstrates how law enforcement has come to exacerbate the very problems it is supposed to solve. In contrast, there are places where the robust implementation of policing alternatives-such as legalization, restorative justice, and harm reduction-has led to a decrease in crime, spending, and injustice. The best solution to bad policing may be an end to policing.

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