As people across the country grow increasingly aware of police brutality, systemic racism, and abuses of power, we’re hearing calls to abolish the police. To be sure, there is some disagreement about what that statement means, ranging from reduced funding and increased oversight to literal abolition. But more and more people are reassessing the need for the kind of modern, militarized police force that has resulted in so much violence and death in communities across the U.S.
For some, it’s hard to imagine a world without a police force. Even if they’re sympathetic to the idea, many have questions: Who will solve crimes? Who will stop criminals? Who will keep us safe?
Those questions require complex answers. People much smarter than me are offering those answers, working hard to provide the first steps to systemic change, but for the moment, I can address the issue of imagination.
While a world without police might seem unimaginable, we actually imagine alternatives to familiar forms of law enforcement all the time, in the form of superheroes. There are some exceptions, but almost every superhero is a private citizen who protects the community by solving and stopping crimes.