David J. Harris, CommonWealth Magazine
June 5, 2020
In MassINC‘s CommonWealth Magazine, our Director David J. Harris asks a question many have asked for decades, and others are just beginning to ask: “What if we eliminated the police?”
If we are to achieve any semblance of the ‘peace and regard for community’ to which Mayor Walsh referred, we must seriously reconsider the institution of policing. That reconsideration must include the prospect of abolition. For most Americans that is a frightening if not impossible consideration. But radical change will only come from radical ideas.
Think about what we want our police to do rather than what they do and have always done; and then think about whether there are other ways to achieve that. To the extent that we have come, as some claim, to expect social work functions from police, why not divert funds from law enforcement to social work? If we adopt a notion of being made whole as the basis of justice, why not fund programs that make our communities and their residents whole? If this pandemic has taught us anything, it should be the need to adopt and implement a comprehensive public policy based on addressing the social determinants of health.