Should the american police be disbanded?

This argument falters on it’s need for binary results to input. People aren’t like that. Some people do the right thing because they perceive it innately, others need it pointed out and then they do it, while still others need the persuasion of punishment. Of the latter, some aren’t persuaded, and misbehave anyway. This is the human condition. If we were all logical and rational, we’d need only to have the “golden Rule” explained, and we’d be all set.

In any given society most people are not sociopaths, even in my city with no traffic enforcement most people obey the law, but it only takes a few to create chaos and the sense of risk. I’ll even go so far as to posit most Wall Streeters are probably moral people, but the ones that aren’t are able to do so much damage that they need cops as much as any street thug.


Indeed. And the vast majority of people who do so, are socially and economically disadvantaged.

I believe people’s minds are underlaid by neural networks, programmed by genetics and environmental influences. If you’ve never been taught enough rationality to completely understand the categorical imperative, then you will do harm to your fellow humans. If you’re born poor or of the wrong caste, you probably won’t be taught sufficiently.

I don’t really mind if other people have different opinions, motivations and goals. If they’re willing to put aside these differences long enough to hold police accountable for the theft, rape and murder they routinely commit, that’s good enough!

1 Like

You can remove all crime that has anything to do with being disadvantaged. You still have the tiny percentage of people whose neural networks are broken, irreparably. Some of the most hideous things ever done, were planned by people who’ve had as much learning as the societies of their time could provide. Some were even taught Kant, I’m sure.

Most people are good and don’t need laws against murder at all. Nearly all people can be taught good and wouldn’t need such laws if taught.

Some people don’t. And there’s a tiny enough number of these to leave the essential notion of humans as good undiminished, but a large enough number to make a society without some manner of defense against such as these hell.

After all, the police you describe with such eloquence aren’t the underclass in your model, surely? And yet, even if you poofed them away they’d still be with us, just as rapacious, just as incapable of empathy, just as destructive as you presently describe them as.

This all, of course, entirely avoids the problem of not crimes but, ah, destructive inconsiderations that the police can be a tool to avoid. Such as calling in a noise complaint when a neighbor refuses to tone matters down. Without an external authority, what are you left with? Organizing a shunning campaign? Revenge? Guns at dawn? Swords at a quarter past?


Most countries get along quite well with their police, by and large. This seems an uniquely American problem. And while it is true that some countries don’t arm their police, others do and yet don’t find themselves with quite as many murdered children. Hardly any. None, in fact.

Why? What’s wrong with America? Plenty, in fact, but the chief problem, seen from the outside, is that the police are not just poorly trained (19 weeks is a hollow farce) but trained wrong. They are, in fact, trained to kill kids. Well, the authors of the training programmes don’t likely see it like that, but the whole ‘shoot paper pop-out targets’ business and the stressing of instant fire response (that’s what those courses are for) create people who’ll, even if they are nice, non-violent people, shoot first and then forget what question they meant to pose.

That’s not a defense of murder, of course, just an extension of complicity to the geniuses who decided to give military training to peace officers. It’s okay for the army because they operate in wartime. The expectation of hostility is there. But for a police officer to stroll into downtown Ferguson with reflexes optimized for Fallujah and a military carbine in-hand is to court disaster.

Why was this allowed to happen? Because the police were sent into high-crime areas and told to treat them as if they were an occupying force. Except, they had .38 police specials and the opposition force had whole arsenals. So they got shot. A lot. The turning point was probably the 1986 fiasco in Miami. After that the police arsenals got horrifyingly upgunned (it’s interesting to note that the Ferguson police are one of the users of the .40S&W cartridge which is as hilariously overengineered a handgun cartridge as you are likely to find aside from lunacies like the .50AE) and, crucially, a whole new school of training focused on bringing the officer back home alive started.

Of course, as cold as it is to say, you can’t prioritize the officer going home alive because then the most logical thing to do is to shoot anyone you see as even slightly threatening. And indeed, that’s what the new training is about. To react to perceived threat with instant violence. That’s a horribly stupid thing to teach to people who are meant to work anywhere where there isn’t currently an actual war.

The original error was treating trouble spots as if they needed conquering, forgetting the Peelian principles that are precisely what differentiates the police from yet another gang. Then this error was compounded by optimizing police equipment[1] and training for conquest-policing and then, once the police roll into downtown trying to conquer it, well, it’s amazing how quickly it starts looking like a place that needed conquering in the first place.

This tragic state of affairs is perpetuated by Dave Grossman and his ilk who find a commercial opportunity in the further militarization of the American police. Worse yet, the worse it gets the more people who do want to abuse and hurt and kill will join the police force (which has no fitting method by which to reject them) and the less civic-minded non-violent people will want to join. There is a positive feedback that isn’t leading anywhere nice.

I wish I knew how to fix this, but I don’t. What I do know is that releasing this concentration of maniacs-with-a-mission from whichever strictures belonging to a police force brings is a bad idea. Oh and body cameras. Body cameras are brilliant and should be mandatory and universal.

[1] Which has culminated (one hopes!) in the absurd trend of giving police APCs with machine guns on. I have the gravest difficulty of imagining a scenario where that ends up a good idea which also doesn’t sound like the plot of a Michael Bay movie.


A change in training to focus on community outreach would also be a great start.

1 Like

Sure, and you don’t need a constantly active force of abusive thugs to deal with that tiny percentage. The citizenry can handle it just fine, as is quite frequently demonstrated. And <sigh> I do understand that many here are completely terrified out of their minds at the idea of someone without a uniform acting morally and ethically in the presence of threat, so we don’t need to revisit that meme.

The List has reached recursion and peak absurdity.

List of Things That Frighten Police (Updated 10/9/17)

Blinking LEDs
Photography & Video Cameras
Black/Brown Adults and Children
Direct Eye Contact
Peaceful protests
Imaginary Black/Brown People
Rap Battles
Free Speech
Mail Carriers
Disabled People
Drawings of Penises
Two-Dollar Bills
Pregnant Women


Over the weekend I saw a cop buy four unbelievably crappy pistols from an estate sale.

He convinced the seller that there was no need to do the single phone call instant background check the State of Delaware normally requires, by flashing his police ID.

So now there’s a local cop with four untraceable cheap handguns, gee I wonder what he’s going to do with those?

I understand that police apologists will simply call me a liar and deny this happened, but it did.

I told the seller he was going to smoke a turd in hell for that one. He was not amused.


The number of serial killers killed by an alert citizenry defending itself: one.

I’m not sure empowering a caste of licensed killers due to the existence of a small number of serial murderers makes sense, given that cops kill far more people than serial killers do. Most serial killers, as I understand it, are found through intelligence and detective work.

Fair warning, John Paul Knowles murdered my late uncle’s first wife with my uncle’s rifle, and the cops held him responsible, so this isn’t an unemotional subject for me.

Are detectives and FBI agents and the like not police?

It is not necessary for them to be, no. This was actually in my first post that generated all the kerfuffle - private investigation is legal in the USA, and there’s no natural law that public investigatory bodies must have police powers. You really don’t need a uniform or the ability to commit legally sanctioned murders in order to perform investigations. Well, not to perform investigations ethically, anyway.

If we were going to nit-pick each others’ semantics rather than exchanging ideas, I could start taking a really different tack here, but luckily we’re not going to do that, right? :wink:

“We don’t need police, we just need vigilantes”

  • DCU Medievalist, probably

No. As bad as police in the US are, police at least have oversight. The last thing tension-roiled citizens need are yahoos re-enacting the OK Corral or Tulsa.


Fuck the Pinkertons. I remember the massacres they carried out. The murders. The pillaging. No, fuck that idea.


The data I can access, corroborated by my own personal experiences, says that police do not have functioning oversight - they literally get away with murder, rape and burglary even when their actions are recorded on video and broadcast on TV.

I am 100% on board with that sentiment!

1 Like

I believe the book you’re looking for is The Lord of the Flies. I don’t know where you get the idea that citizen mob “justice” is a substitute for an official police force constrained by law. Of all the libertarian fantasies out there, this one is the worst.


I think police reform and data is needed, but “the citizens can be the police” is an incredibly dangerous idea.


Ah, I see you’ve latched on to the vigilantism attack vector, too.

You’re misrepresenting my ideas pretty blatantly.

Systems can be busted – and we should fix them if they are – but they are infinitely more trustable than expecting individual people to “do the right thing” all the time.

1 Like

<sigh> Look, you asked a question here and I answered in good faith.

Since then you’ve made it pretty clear that you were just looking for a foil so you could push your own ideas out to a wider audience, and never had any intention of considering any differing ideas respectfully; you don’t really care what I think and you aren’t amenable to changing your own opinions regardless what data is presented.

This is my stance. You do not agree - you want to keep the police on the winning side of a force asymmetry - a heavily armed soldiery among disenfranchised and disarmed civilians, since you trust no other armed man, and frequently say so. That is by design a busted system - read Plato, Acton, Burke, Zimbardo, or really anyone who has studied the history or psychology of what happens when one caste is set above another.

C’mon, at no point have I ever said I expected that. Not ever. That’s from your head. Again, you just want someone to be a foil for your posts, and I am not enjoying it, so please stop; we can discuss software or something in some other thread. I am not particularly interested in serving as your rhetorical punching bag here.


Come to Canada, friend. Police misconduct occurs - but is heavily punished. Police are overseen by watchdogs: the do not exist as the vanguard of the state, but rather, a vanguard of order.

Some Canadian cops carry guns. But those that do are trained, have degrees, and have a track record of trustworthiness.


this may the first sensible thing i’ve seen from you in this thread. it almost makes me think the propositions of yours i questioned previously were rhetorical flourishes rather than serious statements.