cover image A World Without Police: How Strong Communities Make Cops Obsolete

A World Without Police: How Strong Communities Make Cops Obsolete

Geo Maher. Verso, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-83976-005-1

In this provocative and well-researched polemic, political theorist Maher (Decolonizing Dialectics) makes a case for “why we need to abolish the police, and what doing so might look like.” He traces the origins of modern-day law enforcement in the U.S. to slave patrols in the South and strike-breaking in the North, contending that “American policing has always been about two things at once... racist fear and economic profit.” Citing the refusal of an Ohio grand jury to indict police officers for the 2014 shooting death of a Black man who was “holding a BB gun in an open-carry state,” Maher describes how “white fear” and racist media tropes allow the police to evade accountability, and provides evidence that modern policing methods do not significantly reduce or prevent crime. Acknowledging that police abolition “implies a plurality of approaches,” Maher calls for the dissolving of police unions and the creation of “life-affirming” alternatives to policing, such as after-school programs and community-based public safety organizations, and profiles communities in the U.S. and abroad that have taken policing into their own hands. Though some readers will take issue with Maher’s fiery language (“policing is a cancer”), his ample evidence and firm convictions make a persuasive case. This is an essential introduction to the case for abolishing the police. (Aug.)