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What Would Society Look Like Without Police?


December 10, 2020 • 1:00 pm PST

All over the world, law enforcement violence and corruption have reignited anti-racism movements that seek the reform and defunding of police—or even their outright abolition. Advocates of defunding the police say it would open up possibilities for addressing social challenges, from improving mental health and developing more sustainable neighborhoods and economies, to repairing the damage from centuries of discrimination and state violence. How would such a transfer of resources play out, especially in communities with a highly visible police presence? Who would replace police in their core work of emergency response, violence prevention, and crime investigation? What would it mean for a 21st-century society to dismantle, or even eliminate, its policing?

University of Toronto Faculty of Social Work Dean Dexter Voisin, Harvard University professor of criminal justice Sandra Susan Smith, and Rachel Harmon, director of the Center for Criminal Justice at University of Virginia Law, visit Zócalo to explore what our communities and nations would look like without traditional cops.