by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
North Carolina’s renowned Davidson College is offering a course this fall titled “#Abolishthepolice.” The Charlotte Observer states the course “will enlist Black political and feminist theories and social and political philosophies to critically examine and think through issues of race, criminalization, incarceration, police militarization, predictive policing, surveillance, and domestic security.”
The teaching professor is Claudia Garcia-Rojas, a visiting assistant professor of Africana studies. Recently Davison, a historically Christian-religious institution, has received backlash from alumni over the perceived direction of the school.
Abolition of the police is a highly controversial idea that gained momentum after the death of George Floyd and the subsequent protests. “Abolish the police” is notably different from “defund the police.” Defunding the police most frequently refers to maintaining a police force – albeit smaller – and diverting funds to social services to serve at-risk communities. Abolishing the police, however, is exactly what it sounds like. Proponents believe that the racially unjust roots of the police run too deep, and there is no cohabitating possible between police officers and marginalized communities. Though some proponents of “abolish the police” shy away from the actual words they are saying, claiming they are merely a “rhetorical device.” Vox writes, for some, “the real goal isn’t to terminate the police so much as frame the discussion in a way that makes radical change possible.”
The John Locke Foundation’s Senior Fellow for Legal Studies Jon Guze recently published a research paper arguing for the opposite – more police, not fewer. Guze writes that North Carolina has an over-incarceration problem that is costly and ineffective, and that preventative community policing is a superior option to lower crime rates and have fewer living in poverty. Community policing has historically been a widely supported concept from the Left. The Clinton administration centered its entire law enforcement strategy around community policing, and Former President Obama created “National Community Policing Week” in 2016 and introduced “Coffee with a Cop” as a way to better the bonds between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. However, the public perception of cops has gone down, and people are looking to turn in the towel on policing altogether. but with homicide rates on an incline, now may not be the moment to slash police departments.
Are the tides turning, or is this just a wave?