Surveying the post-protest landscape in Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Chicago and Oakland, as well as the people who have experimented with policing alternatives at a mass scale in Latin America, Maher details the institutions we can count on to deliver security without the interventions of cops: neighborhood response networks, community-based restorative justice practices, democratically organized self-defense projects and well-resourced social services.
This all may seem ripped from an overly broad, unrigorous, and dogmatic polemic, but Maher's book is nothing if not exhaustive ... from bodycams to chokeholds to more diverse police departments, the evidence—impressively detailed by Maher—suggests that each has actually exacerbated the problems it was meant to fix; while making perpetration of crime by police more likely ... What does Maher think the world without police looks like? It's unclear—but not from lack of trying on his part. After all, nobody ever argued that remaking society was supposed to be easy ... Geo Maher's vision may not get readers to see past the horizon into a world without police—but it is as convincing as any book can be that we must at least try.
The book is a strangled cry for attention—a demand that we return to the fantasy world a few activists inhabited ever so briefly last summer, before rioting and violence snapped us back to reality. Why get rid of the police? Much of Maher’s answer is standard-issue babble ... Maher leans heavily on various unpleasant anecdotes about the worst police brutality of the past century. Such arguments are a prime example of 'sampling on the dependent variable,' using only outcomes selected on a criterion to prove the universality of that criterion ... Where Maher does rely on something besides anecdote, he is reliably misleading or inaccurate ... This is all so slapdash, one suspects, because Maher is not actually all that interested in the world as it is, but in the fairytale world of police abolitionism ... What makes A World Without Police worth reading is this distillation of an argument often made implicitly by people ostensibly far less radical than Maher.
Is the cry to defund the police mere rhetoric? No way, this book makes clear ... Though not fully taking into account inflation and other similar matters, Maher does make the inarguable point that American police have become increasingly militarized and that, quite clearly, if you’re a young male and a member of an ethnic minority, you stand a far greater chance of being jailed or killed by police than if you belong to the privileged majority ... A thesis sure to stir plenty of controversy but worthy of discussion.