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The End of Policing

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  7,562 ratings  ·  1,231 reviews
The problem is not overpolicing, it is policing itself

Recent years have seen an explosion of protest against police brutality and repression. Among activists, journalists and politicians, the conversation about how to respond and improve policing has focused on accountability, diversity, training, and community relations. Unfortunately, these reforms will not produce resul
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published October 10th 2017 by Verso
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Ben Elfland Not particularly -- the 'Alternatives' section of each chapter lays out broad goals, anecdotes of success, and how we might reallocate the funding and…moreNot particularly -- the 'Alternatives' section of each chapter lays out broad goals, anecdotes of success, and how we might reallocate the funding and responsibilities of the police, but it is usually light on specifics when it comes to policy and funding options. The book is more concerned with ethics and the re-imagining of police in society than with the nitty-gritty of transforming those ideas into reality. (less)
Ben Elfland It is entirely U.S.-centric, though it does use other countries as a point of comparison. There are references to India and Nigeria and quite few para…moreIt is entirely U.S.-centric, though it does use other countries as a point of comparison. There are references to India and Nigeria and quite few paragraphs about the UK used to inform the discussion of US policing.(less)

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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.
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such an unfortunately relevant and timely book with the ongoing police brutality and militarization of police against protestors in the United States. The End of Policing shows that instead of police reform we should strive to eliminate the police state itself, given its role in maintaining anti-blackness. Alex Vitale walks us through the necessary steps to help us see why we should do away with the police instead of trying to reform them. He highlights how many of us, especially white and non-b ...more
Sarah Ames-Foley
PSA: The ebook version of this is currently FREE on the publisher's website and can be delivered in multiple formats!

A kinder, gentler, and more diverse war on the poor is still a war on the poor.

this is a really great primer on criticisms of the police as well as alternatives. the book has 10 parts and covers topics such as the school-to-prison pipeline, race, homelessness, sex work, and the war on drugs. it was really helpful to see such a breadth of topics laid out, as it is clear that the cu
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, recs
swiftly overviews the many failings of the American police, an institution that has since its beginning helped uphold a racist, classist social order through the threat and use of violence, and even more so since the collapse of the Sixties’ great social movements and the start of the War on Drugs, after which cops were rapidly militarized and called upon to ramp up the surveillance and incarceration of Black lives. across a series of succinct, stats-heavy chapters, Vitale breaks down how cops p ...more
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 racism, ...more
Roy Lotz
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A kinder, gentler, and more diverse war on the poor is still a war on the poor.

Like many white Americans, I was complacent about the problem of police violence for many years. I figured that there would always be tragic accidents, always a few bad officers, and that we must make allowances for people doing what is, no doubt, a very difficult job. My attitude started to change when I left the country, and realized that the levels of police violence and incarceration in America are exceptional
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a book that genuinely opened up my mind to a new way of imagining what is possible. Vitale's book is a compelling argument from history, sociological data, and lived experience that the police (at least as it is currently understood) cannot be reformed enough to overcome the abuses that they continue to perpetuate. As Vitale's argument turns from one area of life to the next, I was struck by how law enforcement officers with weapons are to address the problems they are called in to fix a ...more
Dec 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately, this won't be a review of this book. I had to resort to listening to the audio version and while it was very well done, I simply don't retain much information when I listen. I have to see the words for them to "stick" in my brain.

The review for this must wait until I have a chance to "read" the Kindle version and can digest the content. For now, I'll just let you all know why I haven't reviewed any books in a few weeks and why I've hardly commented on any of my friends' reviews..
Daniel Teehan
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. Would not recommend this mealy mouthed, largely uninspiring work by a liberal flirting with a radical tradition he doesn't seem to understand. In thinking about this book I was tempted to say, yknow it has a pretty flawed ideological groundwork that is evident in many examples (truly many, see below), but at least it's a good entry point to police abolition for people who need a safer/more accessible on ramp, but actually fuck that.

I think what this book actually does is offer libera
Jun 13, 2020 rated it liked it
That the first line of the conclusion of a book entitled The End of Policing is "Policing needs to be reformed" admittedly made me smile. While clearly intended as part of a rhetorical device, with the author then going on to briefly summarise why reform does not work and how we need to move beyond that, it is indicative of a wider problem with the book and neatly sums up my overall frustration with it.

The End of Policing is a helpful resource setting out the evidence of how policing is oppress
Sleepless Dreamer
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Like most people, I've been watching the protests in the states and hearing the calls to abolish the police. At first, I felt like it was merely a rhetoric device meant to get the point across. I mean, I didn't even spend much time considering someone would think about just getting rid of the police, especially in America where the crime rate is so high. 

That's where this book comes in and that's exactly why it's so important. Systematically and carefully, Vitale analyzes the role of the police,
Kaelan Ratcliffe ▪ كايِلان راتكِليف
Uncompromising Institutional Analysis

There came a point, about halfway through this book, where the full gravity of the situation of American policing hit me like a frieght train. The truth is, the police are used to solve everything in American society. They are used as a bludgeon; a hammer to smash back into place those who have found themselves on the flipside of society; its underbelly. Another term one might use for this phenomena is a 'militaristic' society. Vitales work here is so imp
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
Morgan M. Page
Jun 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Alex Vitale is right when he - on the cover - explains, "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 is policing itself." The End of Policing has all the right takeaways about policing in America and why it needs to be abolished, but unfortunately slips when it comes to the finer details. And to b ...more
Policing needs to be reformed. We do indeed need new training regimes, enhanced accountability, and a greater public role in the direction and oversight of policing. We need to get rid of the warrior mindset and militarized tactics. It is essential that police learn more about the problems of people with psychiatric disabilities. Racist and brutal police officers who break the law, violate the public trust, and abuse the public must be held to account. The culture of the police must be change
anna (½ of readsrainbow)
the ebook is free on the pub's site rn: ...more
h ♡
Jun 04, 2020 rated it liked it
american police function, despite whatever good intentions they have, as a tool for managing deeply entrenched inequalities in a way that systematically produces injustices for the poor, socially marginal, and nonwhite.

◦ this one has been all over social media, and for good reason; it's a well-crafted analysis of modern policing, and makes its case very well. i would hesitate to call it a standalone guide; i think it's more useful as a work that identifies the historical and political proce
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
Maxine CD
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
The meager stars I give this book are for the helpful statistics and historical background that he provides that help to uncover the failings of the police in the US (and sometimes its international counterparts). What's missing is a larger structural analysis grounded in anti-capitalist and grassroots abolition work (mostly led by Black activists) - without this, the arguments throughout the book are fragmented, confusing and at their worst, offensive. Off the top of my head, some things that c ...more
Scriptor Ignotus
The sudden popularity of this book is attributable to a recent happening that some latter-day Suetonius might contextualize as one of the most bizarre and ominous spectacles in American political history. On June 6, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey found himself in the middle of a crowd of thousands of bilious protesters associated with the Black Lives Matter movement. Amidst the tumultuous nationwide reaction to the police killing of an African-American man named George Floyd—running a gamut from p ...more
Emily Rainsford
Jul 02, 2020 rated it liked it
This book was not what I expected. That perhaps makes my rating a little unfair but I can't give it any more stars, mostly because overall I feel like the book didn't actually achieve anything.

Let me explain. I decided to read this book because I was curious about the whole "defund the police" idea. I wanted to know more about what that vision entailed, how it would work, I had all the usual questions like "what about paedophiles" etc etc, that one has when new to the Defund the Police concept.
ash c
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
PS. The ebook is STILL free on Verso's website! If you can, consider donating the cost of the book to the Black Lives Matter movement - resources here. The site also has a section on how to donate without money by playing Youtube videos (creators will donate part of or all of the revenue from the views).

Alex Vitale highlights how pervasive policing is in the US and how there is strong evidence that policing is not at all appropriate and very harmful as a way to protect the community and address
130620: dnf @ 38%. i just can’t do it. this chapter on policing of mentally ill people (which vitale calls “PMI” for some fucking reason????) is so incredibly dehumanizing that i cannot fuck with this guy anymore. onto actual abolitionist texts!
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, economics
An eye-opening and thoughtful book on policing. Like many other people around the world, I was appalled and disgusted when I saw the video of a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, even after he told the officer that he couldn't breathe. Tragically, George Floyd died as a result. But, more than that, since that day there have been constant demonstrations of Black Lives Matter in numerous cities, not only the US, but also in other countries as well. Then, I was horrified a week or ...more
No date, no rating: DNF @ 37%

I’m putting it down for a while. This is really heavy on facts and statistics. What I have read has been very informative and eye-opening but I’m just not in the mood to continue reading right now. Will hopefully pick it up again later!

Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
fuck cops!
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
FYI: With the current protests, Verso Books are offering the ebook for free here. Many are downloading it and donating the equivalent cost of a book, at least, to a relevant cause.

Making a conscious effort to read and learn more and to go beyond just having opinions on what's right and wrong to broaden my knowledge on history/current events, have more informed conversations and contribute more actively going forward - basically, do better - starting here: a concise and easy to access read on the
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
General Greysorrow
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: policing
When I ran for political office in 2016, many of the ideas contained within this book were part of my platform; however, I lacked the necessary words, background, and sources at the time to really argue them from a position of strength. It was more what I just felt was right. Reading this has been amazing in finding my feelings put down in facts, data, and policies which are reinforced by statistical information, historical evidence, and actual real-world examples.

In reading this, unfortunately,
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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.

News & Interviews

These twelve books are so consistently adored, they have become regulars month after month in our data of most popular and most read books on...
134 likes · 52 comments
“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.” 12 likes
“Police argue that residents in high-crime communities often demand police action. What is left out is that these communities also ask for better schools, parks, libraries, and jobs, but these services are rarely provided.” 8 likes
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