Say hello to the future of home security: the self-shielding house! I know you’re probably thinking, “why would I need so much protection? If I’m in danger, I’ll just call the police.”
But what if there were no police? Would residents come together to protect their communities? Or would we devolve into chaos? And how could a world without police actually result in less crime?
We’ve been spending a lot of money on our police forces over the last few decades. Since 1977, the United States’ policing budget has tripled to $115 billion. Los Angeles puts 25.5% of its general funds towards its police force, and Chicago puts a whopping 37% towards theirs.
While that has paid for some seemingly unnecessary fire power, it has also put a lot more police officers on the streets. But research shows that having more police doesn’t always lead to less crime. So could there be a better way to spend all this money?
Before we answer that, let’s take a look at how we got here in the first place. Imagining a world without the police seems pretty far-fetched, but these thoughts have come from a growing distrust in our law enforcement officers.
In 2019, police shot and killed over 1,000 people in the United States. These shootings, along with countless examples of police brutality, have led to many people calling for the money spent on police forces to be redistributed.
Others have taken a more extreme position and called for a complete disbanding of the police. But is that really the answer? Or would it lead to even bigger problems? Well, let’s try it out.
In the middle of the first night without police, your neighbors decide to have a crazy party next door. There’s loud music, drugs, yelling, and fights, all the right ingredients to make sure you and your family get absolutely no sleep.
Since there are no cops to call about the noise, you’ll need to go over there and handle it yourself. And that’s just the beginning of your problems.
To uphold some sense of law and order, your neighborhood would have to start its own program where the residents are responsible for protecting their own areas. This would work better in smaller communities where everyone knows each other, so people are held accountable for their actions.
Sure, a local neighborhood watch would be good for preventing petty crimes, but how would they handle violent situations? A lot of people wouldn’t want to get involved and put their own lives at risk, so you’d have to fend for yourself.
Families would need to develop their own plans for dealing with dangerous situations like home invasions. And there would be a big boom in the home security industry. It’s also possible that this could lead to an over-reliance on weapons. People might turn to their guns to handle situations before trying anything else.
And it could be a slippery slope to total chaos from there. If people don’t look out for each other, violence, looting, and more problems could happen just because people wouldn’t be punished for doing it. According to studies on mob mentality, when individuals feel that their behavior can’t be traced back to them, they are more likely to break social norms.
But despite these risks, there could also be a lot of good from disbanding the police. For one thing, all the money that typically goes to police departments could be distributed elsewhere in communities.
Studies have shown that supporting communities with adequate resources and programs can result in much lower crime rates. Schools, hospitals, libraries, and other organizations could receive more funding, which could potentially help neighborhoods become more appealing and lead to a better quality of life there.
There could be money for food banks, community projects to cleanup neighborhoods, acitvities for youths, and more mental health resources As you can see, there are pros and cons to a world without police. But the cons could be very dangerous.
So completely disbanding the police might be a bad idea. But that doesn’t mean we can’t restructure the police. We could change the way that funding is used, and make sure that we are spending more on supporting communities. While we’re at it, imagine the possibilities if we gave other parts of the government as much money as the defense department?
- “(PDF) More Police, Less Crime: Evidence From US State Data”. 2020. Researchgate.
- “Do More Police Lead To More Crime Deterrence? – Gary Kleck, J. C. Barnes, 2014”. 2020. Crime & Delinquency.
- “USING TERROR ALERT LEVELS TO ESTIMATE THE EFFECT OF POLICE ON CRIME*” 2020. mason.gmu.edu.
- “The case for hiring more police officers”. 2019. Vox.
- “People Shot To Death By U.S. Police, By Race 2020 | Statista”. 2020. Statista.
- “Bloomberg – Are You A Robot?”. 2020. bloomberg.com.