The End of Policing

Author Alex Vitale
Published 2019
Rating 9/10
Status Finished on 2020-10-28

This book is really good, and I kind of wish it had a different cover.

This book primes you to think that it is about the gestalt of policing, that it is a rhetorical argument against the police state.

And in a lot of ways, it builds to that! But the methodology of the book is so sound and sober it’s easy to forget. The book’s argument is simple: the police do too much and they do all of it poorly, here are some examples. In true catalog fashion, the examples get weaker as the book progresses, but the opening choice — police in schools — is so representative of the book’s overall effectiveness.

I don’t have a lot of interesting things to say about this book. I think it’s effective and well-written. It has useful and pragmatic things to say. It changed my view from an abstract “police are bad but that’s life” to a concrete one. You should read this book.

Highlights

In the words of Mark Neocleous, police exist to “fabricate social order”, but that order rests on systems of exploitation – and when elites feel that this system is at risk, whether from slave revolts, general strikes or crime and rioting in the streets, they rely on the police to control those activities. When possible, the police aggressively and proactively prevent the formation of movements and public expressions of rage, but when necessary they will fall back on brute force. Therefore, while the specific forms that policing takes have changed as the nature of inequality and the forms of resistance to it have shifted over time, the basic function of managing the poor, foreign and nonwhite on behalf of a system of economic and political inequality remains.