Derek Thompson+ Your Authors @DKThomp Writer at @TheAtlantic. Host of podcast CRAZY/GENIUS. Author of book HIT MAKERS. Talker on NPR's @hereandnow and @CBSNews. derek[at]theatlantic[dot]com Jun. 11, 2020 1 min read + Your Authors

Unbundle the Police. 

I wrote about my favorite frame for police reform—and why it makes sense to think of policing as a gnarl of overlapping services and actions that should be disentangled, demilitarized, de-escalated, and diminished.

As the sociologist @patrick_sharkey says, there are two questions that we can use to guide a police reform movement.

1. What do police actually do?
2. Why should the United States need armed police to do those things?

Every year, 50 million Americans come into contact with the police. The majority are pulled over in cars (19m), riding in pulled-over cars (6m), or in a car accident (8m).

Statistically speaking, most police work is driving around in cars talking to ppl driving around in cars.

It is ludicrous, unnecessary, and dangerous to merge ho-hum traffic control with armed policing.

Perhaps we should try—as fellow #unbundle fan @ATabarrok writes—spinning out traffic officers, as Highways England already does.

But we can go so much further.

We rely on the police to respond to mental health crises. To collect local tax revenue thru ticketing. To be the frontline of homelessness. To be warriors with big guns that do block watches

Counselor. Treasurer. Soldier. Spy. It's too much.



1. In Austin, 911 operators redirect callers to police, fire, and a mental-health departments. The latter just got a big budget increase.

2. In Eugene, the CAHOOTS program dispatches medics and mental-health counselors to the homeless.

Unbundling is a framework. But alone, it's not enough.

In the big picture, there are too many laws for civilians, and too few laws for police.

The "unbundle" frame was coined by @whatdotcd, almost as a joke. I'm sure to some ppl, it smacks of obfuscating tech-bro sloganeering bullshit.

It's not a replacement protest slogan. It's just a way to think about the necessary unwinding to come. 

You can follow @DKThomp.


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