You mean it doesn’t mean crime running rampant?


“To fix policing, we must first recognize how much we have come to over-rely on law enforcement. We turn to the police in situations where years of experience and common sense tell us that their involvement is unnecessary, and can make things worse. We ask police to take accident reports, respond to people who have overdosed and arrest, rather than cite, people who might have intentionally or not passed a counterfeit $20 bill. We call police to roust homeless people from corners and doorsteps, resolve verbal squabbles between family members and strangers alike, and arrest children for behavior that once would have been handled as a school disciplinary issue. …

“For most proponents, ‘defunding the police’ does not mean zeroing out budgets for public safety, and police abolition does not mean that police will disappear overnight — or perhaps ever. Defunding the police means shrinking the scope of police responsibilities and shifting most of what government does to keep us safe to entities that are better equipped to meet that need. It means investing more in mental-health care and housing, and expanding the use of community mediation and violence interruption programs.

“Police abolition means reducing, with the vision of eventually eliminating, our reliance on policing to secure our public safety. It means recognizing that criminalizing addiction and poverty, making 10 million arrests per year and mass incarceration have not provided the public safety we want and never will.”

One thought on “You mean it doesn’t mean crime running rampant?

  1. It’s nice to say “the vision of eventually eliminating, our reliance on policing to secure our public safety”, but can it be done? Now I think we are a long way from barbarism when it comes to walking down the street and not being assaulted, but I do wonder how far we are from looting. I remember Steven Pinker noting:

    “As a young teenager in proudly peaceable Canada during the romantic 1960s, I was a true believer in Bakunin’s anarchism. I laughed off my parents’ argument that if the government ever laid down its arms all hell would break loose. Our competing predictions were put to the test at 8:00am on October 17, 1969, when the Montreal police went on strike. By 11:20am the first bank was robbed. By noon most downtown stores had closed because of looting. Within a few more hours, taxi drivers burned down the garage of a limousine service that had competed with them for airport customers, a rooftop sniper killed a provincial police officer, rioters broke into several hotels and restaurants, and a doctor slew a burglar in his suburban home. By the end of the day, six banks had been robbed, a hundred shops had been looted, twelve fires had been set, forty carloads of storefront glass had been broken, and three million dollars in property damage had been inflicted, before city authorities had to call in the army and, of course, the Mounties to restore order. This decisive empirical test left my politics in tatters (and offered a foretaste of life as a scientist).”

    When I cast my memory over “civil disorders”, people seem to be quite restrained when it comes to safety of persons. But if I focus on safety of property, and particularly the looting of retail stores, I notice that it seems to be rather common. And how you focus seems to make a difference. What I consider sensible media pooh-poohed the wild rumors of New Orleans breaking out in anarchy after Katrina. But I did record in my quotes file as a humor item, ‘After Hurricane Katrina, “They didn’t take any narcotics,” said CVS district manager Ronald Cavaretta. “They took Viagra and Cialis. That was the number one looted item.”‘

    Of course, where you stand depends on where you sit. I don’t own a retail business, so I don’t really have to care. But a lot of people do, and the looting of Viagra is as threatening to them as someone randomly shooting people. And the evidence suggests that without police at hand, there are people who will loot.

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