Tuesday, October 6, 2020

#StayAtHome: "The End of Policing" by Alex Vitale

Alex Vitale's The End of Policing is required reading for the movements seeking to abolish the police. In recent months in Minneapolis, gun violence and other crime has increased, and people in the neighborhoods closest to the uprising get no help in terms of routine public safety services. Since the Third Precinct burned, the Minneapolis Police Department seems to have fully withdrawn, as if telegraphing to residents: "So you want to abolish the police? Well, you are on your own. See how you like it."

To make matters worse, the city council members who pledged their "veto-proof" majority in favor of abolishing the MPD either willfully mismanaged the process so that nothing would be on the ballot (a required step to remove the MPD, as a chartered organization, from the budget) or were hopelessly naive about how to get to what they pledged to do. All of them need to go.

Vitale doesn't point toward a grand strategy to get rid of the police. What he does do, in topical chapter after topical chapter (e.g., on the limits of police reform, the fact that the police are not there to protect the public, homelessness, mental illness, school-to-prison pipeline, sex workers, gangs, immigration, and political policing) is that the police are not delivering good outcomes for the public, and that the major reforms proposed (i.e., sensitivity training, body cameras, specialty courts for the homeless, mentally ill, sex workers, youth in gangs, etc.) are ineffective. 

For almost every situation, Vitale makes the case that social work and humane social policy are better than policing.