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.
Alex Vitale’s thorough rinsing of the American criminal justice system ... The End of Policing is that holiday argument book, the relatively brief stack of facts you can hand to a relative who still talks about those nice guys who helped out with the flat tire and doesn’t see why any lives have to matter more than they already do ... Vitale teases out how the entire workflow of policing and punishment incrementally harms many of the populations it seeks to regulate, ostensibly in the name of service ... It helps that Vitale is patient enough to expand such a directive and lay out the concrete actions and reactions that leave police looking more like a public health issue than a public good ... Vitale talks about legislators in a way that slightly complicates the function of his book, though in a fruitful way.
Vitale’s book does not give a comprehensive history of the police but rather examines the implications of that history for American police today ... These are the kinds of societal reforms that could make America less dependent on police. To get there would require a shift in public opinion and a marshaling of the political will ... Unless Americans can reconceptualize safety, taking away its racist connotations and recognizing that we are safer not with more guns and violence but with adequate food, clothing, housing, education, health care, jobs, and income for all, we are doomed to continue calling the police for rescue from every conceivable threat, real or imagined.
...backed by a solid accumulation of empirical evidence ... Where others might shy away from the implications of this line of thought, though, Vitale pursues them to their logical conclusion: in context after context, public safety is enhanced, and the public interest is best served, when the police are eliminated from the equation ... He concludes by articulating 'a larger vision that questions the basic role of police in society,' though one wishes he hadn’t waited until the last seven pages of a 228-page book to develop it ... The End of Policing’s great strength lies in demonstrating that if the shape of American policing is historical, it is also contingent ... Ultimately, however, though Vitale comes closer to getting it than Ferguson, both authors miss something central: the reason why a clearly injurious policing paradigm continues.