Beyond Policing

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By Philip V. McHarris

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What would happen if policing disappeared? Would we be safe? This book imagines a world without police.

It’s evident that policing is a problem. But what is the best way forward? In Beyond Policing, distinguished scholar and writer Philip V. McHarris reimagines the world without police to find answers and reveal how we can make police departments obsolete.

Beyond Policing tackles thorny issues with evidence, including data and personal stories, to uncover the weight of policing on people and communities and the patterns that prove police reform only leads to more policing.

McHarris challenges us to envision a future where safety is not synonymous with policing but is built on the foundation of community support and preventive measures. He explores innovative community-based safety models (like community mediators and violence interrupters), the decriminalization of driving offenses, and the creation of nonpolice crisis response teams. McHarris also outlines strategies for responding to conflict and harm in ways that transform the conditions that give rise to the issues. He asks us to imagine a world where people thrive without the shadow of inequality, where our approach to safety is a collective achievement.

McHarris writes, “What if our response to crisis wasn’t about control but about care? How can we create conditions where safety is a shared responsibility? How can we design justice so that no community is routinely oppressed? Envisioning such a world isn’t just a daydream; it’s the first step toward building a society where violence and fear no longer dictate our lives.”

Transformative and forward thinking, Beyond Policing provides a blueprint for a brighter, safer world. McHarris’s vision is clear: we must dare to move beyond policing and foster a society where everyone has the resources to thrive and feel safe.

  • “[McHarris] illuminates the possibility of police abolition…Through a critical lens on contemporary police reform and resistance movements, readers will find an inspiring and thought-provoking take on police reform, abolition, and the future of our communities.”
    Booklist
  • “A deeply researched, profoundly optimistic vision for a police-free future.”
    Kirkus Reviews
  • “In this visionary yet sober account, Philip V. McHarris marshals empirical data and personal stories to show that the police function not to keep all of us safe but to maintain racial and class order. A half-century of reform has done nothing to reduce police brutality, terror, wrongful deaths, or crime. Beyond Policing offers a new vision of public safety, one that recognizes social and economic security as safety issues. Even skeptics will agree: abolition may be the only viable path to a humane civil society.”
    Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams
  • “If you’re looking for practical pathways to safe communities, it starts with this thought-provoking and insightful book.”
    Alicia Garza, co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter and author of The Purpose of Power
  • Philip V. McHarris is a wellspring of intellectual nutrition, and one of the few people I can trust in my life to make me smarter on very tough issues. In Beyond Policing, Philip masterfully challenges the status quo of the American policing system. He presents a powerful argument for long needed social change, grounded in historical context and a vision for a future centered on community and care rather than coercion. McHarris's book is an indispensable guide for understanding the deep-seated issues in our current system and the steps we can take towards a more just and safe society. Beyond Policing is a necessary tool for anyone serious about understanding both the issue at hand, and the prescription for change.
    Van Lathan Jr., author of Fat, Crazy, and Tired
  • Beyond Policing is an invitation to imagine a world without policing. Philip V. McHarris is an incredible scholar that has rooted his vision for a safe future for all through impeccable research coupled with personal testimony. This book is as inspiring and groundbreaking as it is informative.
    Tamika Mallory, author of State of Emergency
  • With deft research and moving storytelling, Philip V. McHarris invites readers to consider why it is that we have relied on mechanisms of law enforcement to solve problems and ensure safety in our communities as opposed to non-carceral solutions for wellbeing that are grounded in practices of care and repair. In this important work, McHarris offers the American public some answers. In fact, it is a way forward, a map, that charts how we might, at last, move beyond policing. And I have a sense that we will be turning to McHarris’ words over and over again.
    Darnell L. Moore, author of No Ashes in the Fire
  • “A sweeping overview of the movement to create a police free future and a vision of how to get there.”
    Alex S. Vitale, author of The End of Policing
  • Beyond Policing encourages us to think critically about the past and boldly about our futures. This work weaves together McHarris' personal story, rigorous research, and visionary thinking in a powerful way so that everyday people can connect and be agitated into meaningful collective action.
    Charlene A. Carruthers, author of Unapologetic
  • Beyond Policing connects data and personal accounts, including incisive stories from the author’s life, to bring context to the weight and toll of policing on communities – putting at the center the people the system insists it is designed to serve. With a rise of authoritarianism globally, it’s incumbent on us all to imagine a world free from the systems of coercion and control that animate fascism and limit democracy and freedom. Beyond Policing is a bold step in that direction.
    Maurice Mitchel, National Director of the Working Families Party
  • “In Beyond Policing, McHarris proves that police abolition has the power to unite us all around achieving true public safety without sacrificing anyone as collateral damage. McHarris opens with a history of policing in America, its exponential expansion, and the danger in recent reforms that depend on data and surveillance. Then, through vignettes and introductions to existing community-led solutions, we get glimpses into the world that would actually keep us safe: one full of relationships, prevention, and strategic interventions. [The] book tears down the myth of policing and prisons as necessary and replaces it with a vision of safety that leaves none of us behind. [This] book makes the best case for what abolition could look like in practice. If we dare to try.”
    Brea Baker, author of Rooted
  • “At a time when so many feel rightfully disillusioned by the state of our nation's criminal justice system, Beyond Policing offers a rare beacon of hope. Philip V. McHarris shares accessible insights to help us both understand and reimagine a world focused on reducing harm and centering community care. While the path forward will be a difficult one, McHarris' words will no doubt help us get there.”
    Franchesca Ramsey, creator/host MTV Decoded & author of Well, That Escalated Quickly
  • This book is not only a primer for how we got here, detailing the birth and maturation of the carceral state, but also a visioning forward of what we could do to build and resource safe, healthy, and equitable communities. Let’s make it so. It is a must-read and a must-share for all who wish to understand the world we have for the sake of building the world that should be.
    Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Co-Executive Director of the Highlander Research and Education Center
  • McHarris reminds us that abolition isn't the absence of safety; it is the presence of care. When we courageously move "beyond policing," we distance ourselves from the chaos and destruction it creates, moving towards the justice and freedom we deserve.
    Zellie Imani, Co-Founder of the Black Liberation Collective

On Sale
Jul 30, 2024
Page Count
320 pages
Publisher
Legacy Lit
ISBN-13
9781538725665

Philip V. McHarris

About the Author

Philip V. McHarris is an assistant professor in the Frederick Douglass Institute and Department of Black Studies at the University of Rochester. McHarris was a presidential postdoctoral research fellow at Princeton University in the Department of African American Studies and the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab. He earned his PhD in sociology and African American studies at Yale University. He was named one of the Root 100s Most Influential African Americans in 2020. McHarris has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, and PBS and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, and more.


 

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