The End of Policing - Alex S. Vitale

The End of Policing

By Alex S. Vitale

  • Release Date: 2017-10-10
  • Genre: Political Science
Score: 4.5
From 33 Ratings



The problem is not overpolicing, it is policing itself. Why we need to defund the police and how we get there.

Recent weeks have seen an explosion of protest against police brutality and repression. Among activists, journalists and politicians, the conversation about how to respond and improve policing has focused on accountability, diversity, training, and community relations. Unfortunately, these reforms will not produce results, either alone or in combination. The core of the problem must be addressed: the nature of modern policing itself.

This book attempts to spark public discussion by revealing the tainted origins of modern policing as a tool of social control. It shows how the expansion of police authority is inconsistent with community empowerment, social justice— even public safety. Drawing on groundbreaking research from across the world, and covering virtually every area in the increasingly broad range of police work, Alex Vitale demonstrates how law enforcement has come to exacerbate the very problems it is supposed to solve.

In contrast, there are places where the robust implementation of policing alternatives—such as legalization, restorative justice, and harm reduction—has led to a decrease in crime, spending, and injustice. The best solution to bad policing may be an end to policing.


  • Root Causes

    By Richard Bakare
    Police are asked to do too much. Social work, mental and wellness check-ins, immigration enforcement, and much more. Much of that ask comes from a desire to control populations of people rather than improve the human conditions of communities. Vitals does an excellent job of unpacking the history of policing and how we have come to default to them as the cure all for every social ill. When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail. When that comes to the police, everyone is a bad actor and excessive & lethal force get used in situations that could be more easily handled by non-police agencies. School resources officers criminalizing bad behavior amongst kids. Mental illness and homelessness being handled with heavy handed force versus trained social work. Drug enforcement that never results in any real end to the war on drugs. The reliance on police to solve broader social issues results in us neglecting the true causes of these problems to begin with. As a reminder Aristotle defined causes as either Efficient (natural), Formal (momentary, explainable), Final (root). When you really want to fix something we need to fix the Final (root) cause of the problem. Vitale demonstrates through concrete examples how doing just that is often financially effective and more humane than police intervention. These real solutions require us to face the bitter human realities of inequality that have plagued the US for so long. That is step one before any police reform can take place. Vitale has done an excellent job pulling in real workable solutions with deep citations and follow up recommended reading for those ready to see change. Most importantly, the book provides all of the factual arguments and data needed to start to have conversations with those who think that the thin blue line is the only way.