Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The End of Policing” as Want to Read:
The End of Policing
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The End of Policing

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  369 ratings  ·  48 reviews
How the police endanger us and why we need to find an alternative

Recent years have seen an explosion of protest against police brutality and repression—most dramatically in Ferguson, Missouri, where longheld grievances erupted in violent demonstrations following the police killing of Michael Brown. Among activists, journalists, and politicians, the conversation about how t

Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published October 10th 2017 by Verso
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The End of Policing, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The End of Policing

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  369 ratings  ·  48 reviews

Sort order
Onyango Makagutu
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Demilitarize the police. Reduce policing. Build more humane societies. End war on drugs and on terror. Heck, just do away with the fucking police.
Meriam Mabrouk
Sep 11, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a timely book that discusses policing in an accessible way in its variable forms: border policing, policing of communities of colour, policing of sex workers, drugs, schools and so on. I found the book interesting in the sense that it specifically points out problems with policing in the US, problems with the existing frameworks of reform, and alternative ways of thinking to counter them.

However, the book starts out with explaining how reforming the police is in itself a problem because
The End of Policing is a concise, accessible read -- I imagine it primarily to blow the minds of people who are invested in equity, identify politically as liberal, and eager to get more creative in how to structure our society for safety, wellness, and justice. Folks with further-left politics may appreciate the talking points that this book provides, even if the content is largely familiar (thanks to *generations* of visionary police/prison abolition organizing).

Alex Vitale covers a lot of gro
Jul 08, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a useful book which provides a lot of detailed research on (mainly US) policing. I was also impressed by the book's premise - to focus on the things people think the police does which generally do need doing by somebody, and find alternatives, rather than just pressing for abolition from the off. The book does a decent job of challenging the most common reforms (e.g. body cams) and clearly demonstrates how little was achieved under Obama to change the essential reality of the police.

Kabir Kabir
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book with a wealth of information. Wonderful for arguing with your dumbass co-workers, family, etc...
Dec 21, 2017 rated it liked it
A fairly balanced examination of how policing has taken on the impossible burden of controlling the symptoms of social problems (drugs, sex work, homelessness etc) while inequality and social injustice continue unabated in the United States. Vitale proposes that true social reform, rather than superficial solutions like diversity training and use of force training, are needed to end corrupt, erratic and oppressive policing. I agree.

Vitale, however, ignores the issue of gun control in the US as
Jun 01, 2018 added it
Not revolutionary, but a concise and accessible book that makes the case for police abolition instead of reform.
Eric Bottorff
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you're curious about the case for abolishing the police, this book is an excellent place to start.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Best for: People who know that there’s a deeper problem with the police than most of our society will acknowledge, but don’t have all the evidence at their fingertips.

In a nutshell: Sociology professor Vitale offers a logical and thorough examination of the many different areas where police are seen as necessary but are, in reality, making things worse. And, more importantly, offers alternatives to police involvement in those areas.

Worth quoting:
“At root, they fail to appreciate that the basic n
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: radicalism
A really good book, with a lot of well-thought-out ideas and examples. The writing is extremely readable but the stories are sometimes difficult to read — about every third page I was so angry I wanted to haul the book across the room. The chapter on the school to prison pipeline is especially informative and revealing.
Heidi Makein
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a society, we’ve become more and more inclined to solve our problems with policing. The ideas put forward in this book might seem radical at first, but there’s an incredible wealth of information and research backing them up. This book exposes the desperate need for an alternative way of thinking in 2019.
May 14, 2018 rated it liked it
As a sociological study, this book succeeds spectacularly. As a political manifesto, not so much. The value of this book derives primarily from its extensive research, data, and statistics. Vitale presents astonishing facts & figures about policing that I had never heard before. The book successfully proves that policing in the United States fails at both its stated purposes as well as generally maintaining a safe and functioning society. What the police instead excel at is institutional rac ...more
Mel Katz
Apr 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting read. I very much liked the structure of the book and think it's an accessible read for those exploring "the end of policing." Recommend to those who want to gain more familiarity with/an introduction to current policing, attempts at "reform" (aka upholding the same oppressive system), and alternatives offered by the author. Shouldn't be read without also centering work/research/voices of those who have been doing the on-the-ground work of police and prison abolition. Have alr ...more
Maria Arseniuk
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Some good points in well researched and categorized sections (sex work, education, homelessness, the war on drugs, etc) but the analysis feels superficial at times. Also centrist and outdated language (prostitution vs sex work).
Would recommend overall but not the best I’ve read.
Steve Hart
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Less radical than I had expected, this book covers various "problems" that the police is expected to solve, but where in fact they exacerbate the problem.

While the first few chapters cover some historical ground on police origins, emphasizing that formal police departments were largely created to act as agents of the state to enforce property laws, combat worker movements, etc., and that the modern connotation of police as a peace keeping force to protect and serve the community is largely a fa
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
Alex Vitale's book offers some compelling arguments in favor of pulling back and evaluating all of the areas of civil society that have been outsourced to police command and control. On the cover of the book, above the title, there is text that reads: "The problem is not police training, police diversity, or police methods. The problem is the dramatic and unprecedented expansion and intensity of policing in the last forty years, a fundamental shift in the role of police in society. The problem i ...more
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Vitale's "The End of Policing". In this important book, Vitale catalogs the many ways in which the American policing system is completely out of control. Just as with any entity that has been given power, power has corrupted the police, and indeed the entire government. It is so sad, yet so predictable.
Through strong and persuasive argument, Vitale points out that America's criminal justice system is built on the idea of revenge, instead of making families and communities whole
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This felt incomplete. He makes an effective case for why the laws need to be changed and common police involvement removed from drugs, sex work, mental illness, homelessness, schools, gangs, and political dissidence, but all of that is familiar to me, and, given that one of his premises is that "the basic nature of the law and the police, since its earliest origins, is to be a tool for managing inequality and maintaining the status quo," I was expecting more attention toward a vision of policele ...more
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I can see this book being helpful as an overview for someone who is concerned about police brutality and wants to understand how that fits into larger issues -- how policing and the prison industrial complex permeate lots of aspects of our society. It's clearly organized--each chapter tackles a difference "face" of policing (policing political groups, policing sex work, the border, etc.), offering a history, an analysis, then walking you through reforms and alternatives. I'll probably end up sha ...more
Thom Kaife
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A well researched and thorough critique of the role police play historically up to this day in the lives of middle and working classes. It provides not only a critical eye on the role and the supposed 'reforms' politicians want to provide, but it also gives a number of alternatives to policing which is I think the greatest strength of this book. The structure of each chapter and the way it outlines these alternatives in contrast to the failures of policing past, and neoliberal reforms, I think a ...more
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book tugs at my heart because too many people I know can't imagine a world without police. They still equate police to safety despite all the evidence and experience to the contrary. Policing ruins schools. Policing criminalizes addiction and poverty. Policing hurts people with mental illness. Policing demands complicity in white supremacy. Policing disrupts social change and labor movements. Policing is nothing more than a form of social control exercised by the powerful to disenfranchise ...more
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a book about the problems with policing in the US. Each section of the book deals with another aspect of policing. I agreed with almost all of it, which I found surprising. I don't think it should be the job of police to provide discipline in the public schools, to help families with their mentally ill relatives, or to provide access to programs for homeless people. We ask police to do too much that's outside of their training and expertise, arming them mainly with lots of...arms.

I'm di
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: justice
We hold idealized views of police as good vs evil given their colonial-to-civil-rights social control roots, give them too much unaccountable power (and militarized firepower), and pile societies economic, mental health, and prohibition issues onto them resulting in criminal justice approaches to health and community rebuilding problems. Also, they are expensive, bad at these things, and kill a lot of poor people.

Says and cites what a lot of folks (M. Alexander and E. Hinton certainly) have said
La Crosse Public Library
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Alex Vitale’s The End of Policing is a thorough examination of police practices today and their problems. The book also reviews current reforms for these problems, how well they are working, and gives suggestions as to what actions can be taken to solve these issues.

At the core of Vitale’s critique is the view that the police force is being used in situations they aren’t trained or intended for. Police forces are handling mental health related crises, immigration issues, and school disipline pro
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent resource that gets to the bottom of problems with policing, most starting with the state’s need to preserve power and with socio-economic factors fueling oppression. Vitale does a great job of organizing this complex information by deconstructing the discussion into “problem” areas of houselessness, sex work, border control, drug use, gangs, etc.
If you only have time to get the essence, don’t miss the first two chapters and the final chapter, plus the conclusion.
I learned a lot from
Christopher Hall
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book goes through the history of policing and gives alternatives for better results in several key areas. He argues the police are overused and as a result there is too much an emphasis on putative justice, especially toward poor and nonwhite citizens. In several areas, (e.g., schools, border issues, homelessness, mental illness, etc.) these issues could be better dealt with specialized services.

We need a fuller implementation of restorative justice to improve the lives of our most vulnerab
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thoughtful and well researched. Some parts of the book are more convincing than others, though overall Vitale uses evidence to effectively argue his points. I deeply appreciate the use of citations to bolster his claims. In fact, the only weak parts of the book are those which lacked citations where I know they could have been used more generously. The chapter on sex work is particularly deprived in this regard.

I would strongly recommend this book to friends. It educates and asks questions in a
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
An extensive exploration of why the nature of American policing - not just the way cops do their job, but the job itself - is inherently suppressive and reactionary. Each chapter breaks out an inherently repressive aspect of policing, then lists a series of attempted and inadequate reforms. The author doesn't quite draw the radical conclusions that his evidence and premises would require of him, but one can only do so much in one book!
Adrian Hon
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Persuasive and accessible, arguing that police reform has and never will truly work (e.g. body cameras, more community engagement). You will likely learn a lot.

The structure of the book makes it a little tiring in that each chapter ends up being a recitation of woes, and often the answer ends up being “we should transform society” which - yes, I agree with, but - is hard to take as a solution.
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thought I knew a thing or two about the police reform but The End of Policing opened my eyes to aspects of the issue I hadn’t ever thought about. Really excellent and surprisingly readable. My favorite quote: “US culture is organized around exploitation, greed, white privilege, and resentment.” ‘Nuff said.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism
  • False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity
  • Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook
  • Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America
  • Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move
  • Ten Myths about Israel
  • SNCC: The New Abolitionists
  • How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective
  • Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump
  • Building the Commune: Radical Democracy in Venezuela
  • The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth, History and Us
  • No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age
  • Floodlines: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six
  • The Anti-Inauguration: Building Resistance in the Trump Era
  • Subterranean Fire: A History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States
  • Creating Freedom: Power, Control and the Fight for Our Future
  • Futurability: The Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Possibility
Alex S. Vitale is Professor of Sociology and Coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College. His writings about policing have appeared in the New York Times, New York Daily News, USA Today, the Nation, and Vice News. He has made appearances on NPR and NY1.
“At root, they fail to appreciate that the basic nature of the law and the police, since its earliest origins, is to be a tool for managing inequality and maintaining the status quo. Police reforms that fail to directly address this reality are doomed to reproduce it.” 1 likes
More quotes…