There was a time until very recently when police reform was a niche topic that was openly discussed only among anarchist and anarchist-adjacent circles. That time is passed. The light of public attention has been shone on issues of police brutality and militarization with staggering intensity, and that which emerged from underneath the scattered shadows proved so terrifyingly ugly that popular opinion has now shifted in the direction of defunding and, in some instances, complete abolition of the police force.
One thing that must be made absolutely clear is that the police is not an instrument of vengeance or retribution. Its function is one of peacekeeping and protection, of service to the populace. There is a reason why every democratic country adheres to the fundamental principle of separation of power. The police is not there to dole out justice. That is, ideally, the sole jurisdiction of the courts and, to a lesser extent, the prison system.
In that sense, the true issue of modern policing is philosophical. Police officers should not be trained to be tools of war, used only to pacify the masses and stifle opposition. But how do you cultivate a police force capable of assisting citizens and creating a safe environment in a system that refuses to do any sort of socially conscious legwork? What few community policing initiatives do exist are simply there to pay homage to a concept that is mostly absent throughout the West. Officers are sent into neighborhoods they have no emotional attachment to, to deal with people who they’ve never met and will likely never meet again. Add to that their training, which is becoming increasingly focused on causing maximum damage as quickly and efficiently as possible thanks to the advent of defense systems like Krav Maga, and you’re on your way to creating an army of fidgety fighters with short fuses.
The state will always have a monopoly on violence. It’s the only way the nation-state can ensure its continued existence. It’s a deterrent, as well as a justification — what else is there for the state to do but keep its citizens alive and safe? And this is where modern policing completely breaks the unspoken contract between country and population. We have no reason to live within the bounds of a political entity that does not have our best interests in mind. We gain nothing from empty patriotic platitudes if we’re being systematically repressed by the state at every turn. This is no longer a simple issue of policing. The curtailing of privacy, the gutting of the social sector, the growing influence of multinational corporations on national politics.
At some point we have to ask ourselves, what’s in it for us? We pay taxes to be beaten, spied on, and exploited. We vote to be lied to. Individual agency is being trampled. And this is an issue that anyone could see, no matter what side of the aisle they sit on. Right-libertarian or left-communitarian, it’s obvious that the current state of things exists merely to keep in check any and every attempt at horizontal organization. The family unit is being destroyed, the countryside has been left behind. The free market has been corrupted beyond recognition and any attempt at setting up any sort of society outside of the current system is stamped out. Our freedom is gone. It was stolen from us and we haven’t even recognized it yet.