End the duopoly

Force is no substitute for social justice, so let’s dismantle the police


How should a society allow for the legitimate use of force by police? Egon Bittner , the esteemed sociologist who specialized in policing, wrote in his book Aspects of Police Work : “As long as there will be fools who can insist that their comfort and pleasure take precedence over the needs of firemen for space in fighting a fire, and who will not move to make room, so long will there be a need for policemen.” Bittner argued that police “were created as a mechanism for coping with the so-called dangerous classes.” But the “dangerous classes” are simply people deprived of the privileges and societal benefits enjoyed mostly by rich white men.

Let’s consider five scenarios in which force is not required and where, therefore, police are not required. Situations in which force is unnecessary

First and foremost, it must be acknowledged that most of everyday life needs no police intervention at all — including protests and demonstrations. That’s because people overwhelmingly police themselves, as individuals, families, road users, workplaces, associations, communities and protesters.

When it comes to people experiencing mental-health crises , what’s required is talk, experience and patience. If, in extreme cases, force is required to restrain a […]

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