There is a call for Chicago to shed its unsavory cloak termed “Chi-raq” and become a city of peace. There is a parallel cry, by Jessica Disu and a few others, to abolish the police. Can these even be accomplished?
It’s great that a few people have decided the solution should begin with themselves, because someone’s got to do something. We need lots more community gardens, and a lot of literate folk to mentor young readers, and people to step up as Scout leaders and to teach teens how to repair bicycles and ride them safely. But having no sworn officers available is a perfect setup for opportunists and the mob and other thugs to make themselves at home; it is a pipe dream to try to wish away law enforcement.
Will you, for example, take a statement on an accident today from one person, then tomorrow realize that was a lie when the real victim seeks you out for help? If you’ve ever had your sleep disturbed by a neighbor’s party or their fireworks damage your property, maybe you’ve asked them nicely to keep the noise down or pay you for the damages and they laughed until you went away. Not very neighborly, and then, all alone, you would be stuck. Your insurance company is sure to want a police report number – who’s going to keep track of these things, and who will ensure those people do their job honorably?
Some people will drink too much and get behind the wheel; someone will crash. Should that person just get however many hours’ community service your group might suggest? Scammers are rampant, trying to sucker the elderly who don’t have someone to watch their finances like a hawk. There are predators among us: should a man who lures and sexually abuses a child – however much he might’ve been scarred himself when younger – be merely remanded for counselling?
If you can’t you talk the punk (yes, perhaps he is somebody’s kid, corrupted by the gang life) out of attacking the old man who’s just trying to cut his lawn and robbing him, then what? No – not you? Now what – you can’t very well call Ghostbusters, can you? You call the paramedics – and the cops. When a young woman displays superhuman strength and anger because she’s off her medications and is not listening to you, only the voices in her head, and the medics want backup – thanks but maybe not you since we don’t know what your training might’ve been – the police are the answer.
When the celebrity hangs himself, when you find someone in your gangway dead with a needle sticking out of her arm, when grandpa’s expired in a garaged car with the motor running, how can a civilian possibly determine if it was suicide – or a crime? Who among you will put on gloves and turn over the body that’s been there over a week, flies beating you in the face in their desperation to find something else to lay their eggs in? After photographing it and whatever else nearby is possible evidence from all angles, of course. Who will keep the records?
Even if there was a cop on every corner, there would still be crime in the middle of the block. Society needs law enforcement. The job, so to speak, of civilians, is to soberly acknowledge his or her responsibilities, to promptly speak out against injustice, to report what is seen, heard, or planned that’s against the law, to sit on juries when summoned, to raise the children around you right, to help out and not bully.
If you’re not sworn, yet you feel certain you can take action without endangering anyone but the offender and you choose to “do something” before we get there, that’s out of our hands; it might be useful, but it might, viewed with a jaundiced eye, actually be excessive force and vigilantism. If you haven’t had our training and experience or something similar, I doubt you can know in the heat of the moment.