This may surprise some people- but, the world I’d love to see in the future is one without police. This doesn’t mean that I want to see police services immediately disbanded though. That would be an obvious disaster- the world isn’t ready for it yet. If they would disappear in a flash, we’d have a great big disaster on our hands. If you have any doubt, look at what happens to society after a big disaster- looting, murders, rape. The events that happened after hurricane Katrina or the invasion of Iraq are great examples…
I believe that most people who are activists would like to see a world where we don’t need police. It would be beautiful if people would respect and not do harm to each other. The big question is how can we change the world to make this a reality? It’s quite a challenge to imagine how to get there.
Many of the most hardcore anti-police activists (who are often members of the anarchist community) believe that violence is the path to a police free world. They engage in FTP (fuck the police) marches, get into street clashes with cops, and write vitriol essays about police services.
Is this the path to a police-free world?
Hardly. Every time people get violent the only thing they do is to justify the expansion of the police. Remember what happened at the Toronto G20? The city spent a billion dollars on policing and security. They would have had a hard time justifying all of this expenditure if it weren’t for the anti-police crowd.
What’s the path to a police-free world than?
It’s a long and arduous path- and it is unlikely that we’ll get there by promoting violence. The real way to get rid of the need for police is to heal society and make our communities more equitable places to live. There are a lot of things that need to be done- here’s a sampling:
Poverty is one of the greatest influences on crime rates- if we are to live without police, we first need to find ways to reduce the number of people who are desperately poor. We also need to find ways to make living in poverty less desperate and violent.
2. Drug Policy
Drug policy is also a giant contributor to motivating crime. Most educated people in this world agree that drug use needs to be decriminalized. That alone would be a disaster though- we need to also reorganize support services for addicts so they are focussed on curing people’s addictions rather than simple harm reduction.
3. Prisons & Corrections
Our current system of prisons is failing us- conditions are not conducive towards corrections, they are simply warehousing and ‘con colleges’ where people exchange tactics. Countries who have reformed and improved their prison systems (e.g. Norway & Sweden) have much lower rates of recidivism.
Kids today often seem on the opposite path to creating a utopian society. Schools need to keep-up their focus on teaching kids to be more respectful to others. We also need to improve drop out rates- not completing school is another large contributor to criminality.
5. Mental Health Services
Our mental health system is failing us in Canada. We’ve reduced the number of hospitals in a failed experiment to focus almost entirely on community services. People with mental health issues have often been thrown to the streets before they were ready to enter society. We’ve also focussed too much on using drugs over therapy.
It may never be possible to have a world without police- there will always be a few people in each community who are prone to criminality. But, as experiences in other countries have shown, it’s possible to minimize the need for police and prisons. One thing is for certain though, we’re not going to get there through violent actions…