The End of Predatory Policing

Photo by Jessica Griffin

The movement to end predatory policing is part of a national turn toward nonviolent civilian control of public safety. The rise of militarized police is a problem faced around the world. Militarization of police not only brings about more violence and abuse of authority, but it is based on a presumption of the citizen as a threat. This is antithetical to liberal democracies.

“A presumption of threat,” write Eliav Lieblich and Adam Shinar, “assumes that citizens, usually from marginalized communities, pose a threat of such caliber that might require the use of extreme violence. This presumption, communicated symbolically through the deployment of militarized police, marks the policed community as an enemy, and thereby excludes it from the body politic. Crucially, the pervasiveness of police militarization has led to its normalization, thus exacerbating its exclusionary effect. Indeed, whereas the domestic deployment of militaries has always been reserved for exceptional times, the process of police militarization has normalized what was once exceptional.”

“The police need to understand that this is a new day. The consent of the governed for predatory policing and mass incarceration racial injustice is hereby revoked. They need to understand they either change how they police or we will dismantle police departments as they exist today and create wrap-around safety strategies and institutions. They’ve got a choice now: They can either do it on their terms or it will be done to them by people who don’t understand as much about what they know.”–Connie Rice, civil rights lawyer, co-founder of the Advancement Project on As It Happens (8 June 2020)

“The only way we’re going to stop these endless cycles of police violence is by creating alternatives to policing. … More training or diversity among police officers won’t end police brutality, nor will firing and charging individual officers. … The focus on training, diversity and technology like body cameras shifts focus away from the root cause of police violence and instead gives the police more power and resources. The problem is that the entire criminal justice system gives police officers the power and opportunity to systematically harass and kill with impunity. … The solution to ending police violence and cultivating a safer country lies in reducing the power of the police and their contact with the public. We can do that by reinvesting the $100 billion spent on policing nationwide in alternative emergency response programs, as protesters in Minneapolis have called for. City, state and federal grants can also fund these programs.”– Philip V. McHarris and Thenjiwe McHarris, No More Money for Police (New York Times, 30 may 2020)