Big Dreams and Bold Steps Toward a Police-Free Future
Rachel Herzing, Truthout, September 16, 2015
Police scanners, Tasers, increased data collecting and sharing, SWAT teams, gang injunctions, stop-and-frisk, “quality of life” ticketing – all of these policing reforms have been taken up to improve the quality of policing in the United States. The dominant school of thought on police reform has suggested that reforms like these make for safer communities and that improving policing will allow us to escape its violence.
This orientation toward police reform imagines that documentation, training or oversight might protect us from the harassment, intimidation, beatings, occupation and death that the state employs to maintain social control under the guise of safety. What is missing from this orientation, however, is the recognition of the function of policing in US society: armed protection of state interests. If one sees policing for what it is – a set of practices empowered by the state to enforce law and maintain social control and cultural hegemony through the use of force – one may more easily recognize that perhaps the goal should not be to improve how policing functions but to reduce its role in our lives.