You’ve probably seen at least one movie where an entire community descends into total chaos. Usually, these scenes are in apocalyptic films where society is breaking down just before the end of the world.
In reality, this level of chaos can happen to local communities even when the world isn’t about to end. In fact, all it takes is a decline in police presence for some neighborhoods to experience a drastic rise in violent crime, theft, and other issues. If police officers were completely defunded, like some are calling for, we would all be in serious trouble.
Some non-profit groups, like the National Police Association (NPA), work hard to educate communities about the value of police officers, and they also advocate for law enforcement officers and agencies in court. They hold everyone’s best interests in mind and will even step in during lawsuits as a friend of the court when an adverse ruling might hurt officer safety or infringe on constitutional rights.
Still, despite all their hard work, many people still believe that police officers are all bad and we don’t really need them. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
What police officers do for communities
Police officers are the people who respond to 911 calls for crimes in progress, domestic violence reports, and other serious situations. They signed up for a job that has them willingly walk into dangerous situations where they can possibly be killed. They never know when their current shift will be their last, and they do it to protect their communities. Without the police to intervene, there would be no resolution and dangerous situations would only escalate.
Communities don’t police themselves
There’s something important to remember about society – people don’t generally police themselves. At least, not in the West. Group dynamics in Western society are not kind to the people who want to do what’s right or fair when the rest of the group wants to do something else. Of course, “right” and “fair” are subjective terms, but in this case, these words are referring to “what’s best for the entire group” and that’s not how our individualist society operates.
Communities that police themselves require a commitment from each member to always keep each other in check, resolve situations fairly, and do what’s right for the group. Unfortunately, many people feel the need to get revenge after they’ve been wronged, and a community left to police themselves is likely to take getting justice too far. We already see this in court cases where people want the convicted criminal to “rot in jail” for the rest of their lives, and some people even celebrate when inmates are violently attacked or killed.
People in our society are oriented toward punishing wrongdoers rather than rehabilitating them. Besides, most people wouldn’t know how to rehabilitate someone anyway. What would they do with someone who can’t stop beating their spouse? That’s not something you fix with a simple conversation over coffee. It takes years of therapy and personal responsibility, the likes of which are unlikely to happen outside of that person being arrested and forced to get help through a court order.
There are communities that can police themselves, but you won’t find them in the West. For instance, the Abkhasian communities don’t use punishment, criticism, or threats at all while raising their children, and as a result, their kids don’t carry the resentment that would encourage them to want to seek revenge in the first place. Kids obey their elders, even when asked to do difficult things. It’s not a perfect culture by any means, but people don’t grow up to be adults who seek revenge for wrongdoings.
You will find non-violent cooperation, communication, and even peaceful rehabilitation in tribal cultures, but you won’t find that in Western cultures. It really is the Wild West in the sense that it’s every human for themselves and survival is each person’s individual problem. Without police presence in a Western society, it wouldn’t take long for communities to start looking like they’re part of a zombie apocalypse film where the end of the world is near.
What would it take for society to function without police?
While some people dream of a police-free world, that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. Our entire culture would need a paradigm shift before people would be able to police themselves fairly. Until then, it’s pretty clear why police are necessary to maintain order in society. Without law enforcement, violent crime would rise exponentially and communities would quickly descend into chaos.