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The End of Policing Hardcover – October 10, 2017
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“Deeply researched, but also vibrantly and accessibly written, The End of Policing is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the dire state of policing today. Alex Vitale shows compellingly that as long as we ask the police to shore up a fundamentally unequal and dysfunctional social order, superficial ‘reforms’ won’t do much to help. And he offers concrete alternatives aimed at restoring communities and getting police out of the business of trying to contain social problems that they cannot—and should not—control.”
—Elliott Currie, Professor, University of California, Irvine, author of Crime and Punishment in America
“The End of Policing combines the best in academic research with rhetorical urgency to explain why the ordinary array of police reforms will be ineffective in reducing abusive policing. Alex Vitale shows that we must move beyond conceptualizing public safety as interdiction, exclusion, and arrest if we hope to achieve racial and economic justice.”
—Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Professor, CUNY Graduate Center, Co-Founder of Critical Resistance, author of Golden Gulag
“An extremely vital book on policing. Should be assigned at all police academies. If only the Philando Castile jurors had read this.”
—Jeffrey Fagan, Director of Columbia Law School's Center for Crime, Community, and Law
“Challenging standard accounts of how to reform policing, Alex Vitale argues that true safety demands directing resources away from police and prisons and towards economic development, education, and drug treatment. Urgent, provocative, and timely, The End of Policing will make you question most of what you have been taught to believe about crime and how to solve it.”
—James Forman, Professor, Yale Law School and author of Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America
“In a tightly constructed monograph filled with reform suggestions, Vitale decries the evolution of police agencies as tools of the white establishment to suppress dissatisfaction among the have-nots. A clearly argued, sure-to-be-controversial book.”
“In a chapter on each issue, Vitale sets out the problem in depth, explores the liberal view of reforms that seek only to remove the worst excesses of police conduct and to restore the legitimacy of using force in the interests of society, and then offers ideas for alternatives.”
—The Network for Police Monitoring
About the Author
Alex S. Vitale is Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College and coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project there. He has spent the last 25 years writing about policing and consults both police departments and human rights organizations internationally. He is also a frequent essayist, whose writings have appeared in the New York Daily News, New York Times, Nation, Gotham Gazette, and New Inquiry.
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I would recommend reading this in the context of reading other books that talk about the problems with current policing practices and philosophies, and have (generally) a wide view that reinforces and is complementary to Vitale’s: THE RISE OF THE WARRIOR COP; YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN INNOCENT; CHOKE HOLD; and INVISIBLE NO MORE: POLICE VIOLENCE AGAINST BLACK WOMEN AND WOMEN OF COLOR.
It is stunning, the details laid out in this book. It is in my opinion a masterpiece for a book of this nature. Because it has heart and it it appears to be well-researched. Because it says what I feel. I am glad I read it, though these accounts and statistics are not fun to think about. My respects for a well-written book.
I was at first feeling somewhat nauseated and quite sorrowful about what I was reading about all the suffering that people endure in this world at the hands of greed, selfishness, misunderstanding and ignorance. And in my opinion there is much incompetence. I got that sense from reading what I've read. I had not been confronted with these realities in this context (framed as a book about too much policing); though, in life and in psychology courses I've taken, I have been informed of how difficult it is for many people to survive, much less fight suppression, oppression, and violence that cripples and disables them further from getting out of their already impossible situations.
A lot of what is written in this review will be my interpretation of what I read, my interpretation of what the author might've meant for people to read, and a bit of coarse of my own reaction to what I've read.
I see it this way because too many of them will never get out of a deadly loop of being forsaken, feeling bad, and then maybe having acted out in some way (big or small) as to attract punitive actions by the police. Many times it can be misdirected, misinformed, and I suppose well-meaning legislation that guides this. It is heartbreaking. Or maybe someone happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, they live in the wrong neighborhood, they walk down the wrong path, or they are related to or know the wrong person from Facebook or from grade school. That is all possible under the umbrella of the law.
I do not believe most police personnel really realize the magnitude of the oppression and pain that the people who they are sent to control and punish are really suffering, and of how they are suffering reversals or just institutionalized and systematic ongoing horrors. Maybe we don't really think that deep. I believe that many people just do what they do without much necessary thought or empathy (which might not be possible to really teach. Which might not be seen as necessary or perhaps profitable, or convenient for some people's agendas. Which we might not think is our job to care or to do anything about).
And there is division in the politicking. People aren't immune. Not police, and not enough other people who can really make a difference. That is my opinion. We are flying blind in many situations. That too is my opinion. I hope it is ok for me to express what I feel about what I have read. I think evoking that feeling from a book such as this one is inevitable and I am confident that it is intended by the author. I would hope anyway.
The book lays out a vision of horror (at least that is how I sense it) that might be solved in some meaningful ways "if only" this or that were done differently in the future. Perhaps in the real world today we do not see how or if the necessary money or efforts will be allotted for solving the true roots of problems we all face together. Unfortunately we don't all see the "together thing". We all have different views, and some people are presented with one perspective of the whole picture, and others a different one, unfortunately. That is what I see this book hinting at if it is not outright saying it.
Maybe not all of us suffer that way, because let's face it - many of us are just fine. We have our heads above water in many respects, though we can always complain I suppose. So, I am saying I have little sense of what many severely disadvantaged people go through. I do see sometimes on a street corner people who appear to me as though they might hijack my car to get some drugs or a meal. I saw this type of scenario after taking the wrong offramp on vacation. I do not see those people as the problem, but see them as a symptom. That is why I can identify with this book.
Many who are in and out of jails, in my opinion, in some way or another have been victims of a larger problem. I will always see it that way, and I read this author as saying this. This book helped me see that clearer, and it reinforced that notion. Instead we rely less on gentler and more complete solutions; we rely more and more on the police to be the gatekeepers of the mentally ill, the young and naive, the unwary, the too-wary, the born on the wrong side of the tracks, the poor and hungry, the confused and disorderly, the disaster and problem-riddled, the neglected and forgotten, the alienated and the dissident; more than I can possibly cover in one review. I believe the author makes it clear that many reforms proposed just aren't working, haven't worked, others may not work. The author makes it clear that it is an issue in which we expect the police to cover bases that they are not likely to succeed in covering. Yet, there are always improvements and proposals.
It appears to me that this book says just about everything one needs to know to at least get a sense of the causes of our societal disease, and how we put toxic bandaids on problems that need real and peaceful solutions. And as the book reads to me, real and peaceful solutions are cost-effective, as are many problems facing the world; yet we just do not all have a voice to change the tide; and we just have too much resistance at this time.
This book talks about improvements, reforms (in every chapter I believe), and some silver linings, or possible ones. I just hope our kids' kids will see a better day.