The End of Policing
This week, Lee Camp interviewed Alex Vitale, author of End of Policing.
Vitale proposes that we as a society rethink how we deal with the societal problems which we currently use the police for.
For example, Portugal has made great strides in diminishing their drug problem by legalizing all drugs. Moreover, related problems like HIV, STD’s and overdoses have decreased dramatically.
Instead of involving the police, offenders are given treatment.
The average police officer in the U.S. makes 1 felony arrest per year. The rest of their time is spent enforcing low level misdemeanors which can best be described as an extra tax on the homeless and poor.
Nixon’s war on drugs had nothing to do with public health and safety, it was designed to vilify war protesters and people of color, and to reinforce the idea of authoritarianism.
Keeping marijuana a crime punishible by jail opens the door to “aggressive policing” where trivial offenses escalate into arrests, mostly from noncompliance.
Our fear of authority keeps us in line. If we try to unionize and we picket, the boss will get the police on their side. If we protest for political reasons there is an ever present danger of being jailed for expressing our right to freedom of speech.
Police ‘follow along’ shows are the most tivo’d programs on television. Police often act as producers in this content development that features on compliance. The shows themselves will never air police misconduct because that would cut off their access to film the police on duty.
I’ve known that decriminalizing marijuana will ease tensions between the public and the police, but I never imagined that those tensions were a feature of the system and not a bug.
In other news, the city of Detroit has installed thousands of facial recognition cameras which will use DMV photos as a cross reference. Tests have found that the software does not recognize white skinned faces and dark skinned faces equally well. The cameras can be calibrated to increase the accuracy for one skin type or the other, but not both at the same time. Want to take a guess which skin type will be the default calibration across the country?