DISAGGREGATING THE POLICING FUNCTION.

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Author: Barry Friedman
Date: Mar. 2021
From: University of Pennsylvania Law Review(Vol. 169, Issue 4)
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania, Law School
Document Type: Article
Length: 33,434 words
Lexile Measure: 1690L

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Abstract :

Policing imposes serious and extensive harms, from shootings and nonlethal uses of force, to stops, searches, arrests, and incarceration. And many of these harms involve pervasive racial disparities. Scholars and advocates tend to see these harms as collateral to policing and seek to address them with "harm-regulating" tools such as civil rights suits, prosecution of police officers, elimination of qualified immunity, more Department of Justice investigations, civilian review hoards, and the like. Harm-regulation techniques are unlikely to he successful, however, as we see all too well in practice. Harm is not collateral to policing, it is innate to it. We call police "crimefighters," we train them in using force and enforcing the law, and we deploy them to do this. So, it should come as no surprise that what we get is force, and law enforcement. And that this approach does little to address the sorts of social problems--from homelessness to substance abuse to mental illness--that police confront every day. This Article takes an entirely different approach to the harms of policing, looking to the very core of the policing function itself. It disaggregates what police officers are called upon to do daily into their constituent functions, asking in each instance: are force and law the appropriate responses, and if not, what are? What would be a better response to the needs of the public? Crimefighting actually is a very small part of what police do every day, and the actual work they are called upon to do daily requires an entirely different range of skills, among them: mediation skills to address conflict, social work skills to get people the long-term solutions they need, interviewing and investigative skills to really solve crimes, and victim-assistance. Yet, police are barely trained in any of this, so it is no surprise harm is the result. This Article suggests a range of solutions designed not to reduce harm collaterally, but to reduce altogether the footprint of force and law. We either need to change fundamentally the nature of the policing agency workforce, or move police to the background, bringing in other agencies of government to address the actual problems police face on a day-to-day basis. At the end, this Article proposes a totally novel idea for a whole new system of generalist first responders, to replace much of policing as we know it. And it argues that we must reduce criminalization. In short, to reduce the harms of policing, we need to reimagine public safety from the ground up.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A667763452