What Would America Look Like Without Police?

It’s hard to imagine what life was like in America before the establishment of police forces.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, community volunteers handled these duties. This “watch system” was mainly a night watch. It was established in Boston in 1636, New York City in 1658 and Philadelphia in 1700.

This system was not very efficient. After a while, “volunteers” were assigned this task as punishment. Eventually, constables policed their communities. They earned money through fines people got  for breaking laws.

The first official American police force was established in Boston in 1838. Funded by the public, it featured full time workers. It was followed by police forces in New York and Chicago. Plus New Orleans, Cincinnati and elsewhere.

Abolishing or defunding

It’s even more difficult to picture America without a police force now. Police made more than 28,000 arrests per day in the U.S. in 2018. And, of course, they were also involved in many non-arrest situations.

But the abolishment of police forces is what some people are calling for today. Including members of the Minneapolis police abolitionist group MPD150.

They say  getting rid of traditional law enforcement will reduce crimes. They believe communities can be responsible for policing themselves.

Some others feel abolishment is too severe of a reaction. Instead, they support shrinking police departments. And reinvesting the dollars  saved into the communities.

They want to change policing from punishment and imprisonment to reform and rehabilitation.

Routine traffic stop

What would it look like if there were no police on the streets? Let’s start with a routine traffic stop for speeding.

Philip McHarris is with the Community Resource Hub for Safety and Accountability. Here’s what he says.

“Someone who manages safety on the roads could pull the driver over. And then say, ‘Hey, I want to share some statistics with you. About how speeding increases the likelihood of someone potentially dying.’”

McHarris believes the emphasis should be on education. On how to convince someone to drive better. Rather than on threatening them with punishment if they break the law.

Domestic violence

Here’s what supporters of police abolishment say about domestic violence cases.

Alex Vitale is the author of The End of Policing. “Many people do not call the police in these situations. Because they know that involving the police can actually lead to more harm,” he said.

Vitale added there should be neighborhood violence centers. Their family members could be taught how to resolve situations among themselves. And be provided with intervention options.”

McHarris said de-escalation is the key. “There can be a team of trained domestic violence interveners. (They’ll give) people the support they need to navigate out of that situation.”

School shooting

What about something as horrific as a school shooting? Do some believe this could be handled without a police presence? Patrisse Cullors is co-founder of Black Lives Matter. Here’s what she says.

“That gets way more complicated. Mostly because we haven’t seen many examples of de-escalating a school shooting. I also think it’s really important to talk about why that school shooting happen.”

Cullors said she would not want authorities to intervene in a school shooting with guns. “I would like to live in a world where we don’t have to use guns to respond to harm and violence.”

Vitale added, “There has been a reluctance among young people to raise the red flag about someone. What we need is an early alert system staffed by counselors and social workers.

“So students know they have someone to go to in order to bring concerns. Without necessarily having it immediately result in criminalization.”

No police, no protection

Many people believe some police departments may need to be reformed. But they feel abolishing the police would be a big mistake.

Writing for the libertarian website Reason.com, Ilya Somin expressed this. “Much social science research shows that increasing the number of police… can reduce crime rates. Often dramatically so.

“Abolishing the police completely or severely curtailing their numbers could easily increase crime. (And) in the process disproportionately harming… minority communities reformers most want to help.

“Many minority communities have long complained that the police don’t do enough to protect them against crime. Abolishing the police entirely would make that problem worse.”

‘Radical and dangerous’

President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order. It encourages police departments to improve training. But he also expressed his support for law enforcement.

“The vast majority of police officers are selfless and courageous public servants,” he said. “They are great men and women.”

Trump called proposals to defund police departments “radical and dangerous.” He added that many police departments are underfunded and under supported.

The president said Americans “demand law and order. They may not say it, they may not be talking about it, but that’s what they want.”  

Societal breakdown?

The biggest argument against abolishing the police is that society will break down. And anarchy will rule.

Will a speeding driver pull over just because a community officer wants them to? If so, will that driver listen when the officer “suggests” they drive better?

Will someone engaging in domestic violence stop hitting his wife? Just because a social worker asks them politely to stop?

Will a school shooter stop shooting students? Just because unarmed peace officers recommend he do so?

What do you think?

How do you feel about this situation? Do you think the defunding or abolishment of police forces would reduce crime? Or would crime increase instead?

I’d love to hear your opinion about this. Let’s keep it civil and respect each other’s opinions.


  • J Cherry - January 26, 2024

    I am a Police Officer in a small town with a staff of 12 Officers. We have great group of officers men and women. We enforce the laws in our town and also help the county when they need help. We are a resort community and do a lot of Driving while impeared arrests. We are very supported by our community. We take a community policing approach with foot patrol and being involved in all community activities. We have strick policies about officer conduct and in my 15 years of service not 1 officer at my department as ever violated any use of force policies or they will be fired and charged with a crime. Over site of the department is key. We do not worry about what the media narrative is at the time. I know the people in my community and feel the support very day.

  • Ron - September 11, 2023

    Huet, a Sheriff is a Policeman but they normally police unincorporated areas and Policemen normally police cities. Banning Police will only create anarchy, like took place in cities where rioters took control of areas of cities declared their area a free state. They burned out businesses, beat people and prevented fire departments from putting out fires. They tried to burn down the Federal Courthouse. All Law Enforcement Officers: Federal, State, County, and Municipal should be respected for the dangerous work they do and the lives and property they save. A very, very small percentage of Law Enforcement Officer create crimes or abuse the public.

  • Anne Galivan - July 22, 2020

    The biggest problem we have is the conflation of a VERY FEW incidents of police brutality that certain elements of society use to further their agenda. We are in a battle between good and evil, plain and simple. We have a large portion of our citizenry who know nothing of history, and know nothing about the evils of socialism, and therefore they believe the lies and want to embrace it (socialism, Marxism). BLM and Antifa are Marxist organizations whose primary goals are to overthrow our nation, to banish the traditional family, to silence religious people and so on. Statistics show that far more white cops are killed by black suspects than the other way around. The number of unarmed suspects killed by cops is infinitesimal when compared to the number of interactions police have with the public every year. Black people living in poor communities with high crime want MORE police, not less. But the mainstream media plays up BLM as if that organization actually represents the black community. It does not. And the celebrities and athletes that have hitched their coattails to BLM only show that they are ignorant of reality too. Our nation is in serious trouble. We are losing good cops by the droves…the end result is not going to be pretty.

  • William - July 07, 2020

    the issue has been over the years politicians have transformed the role of police from enforcing traffic laws and catching bad guys such as robbers, murders, etc to what is called a full service police force. We now get calls from i need someone to jump my car off, to there is a snake in the yard, or my 6 year old kid will not listen to me. As with everything else the democrats get involved with they have taking away the individuals ability to solve the smallest issue on their own, a government official has to do it for them. How about you be a parent to your kid, learn to jump your own car and change a flat tire, no we cant do that because that would require you to think for yourself and most of all it would leave no one to blame if you fail.

  • Stan G - July 07, 2020

    Defund was meant for the militarization of the police not to end the department completely. The police do not need all the military surplus they get. When they put that stuff on they mean to use it. Plus a lot of those guys like it, they like getting all dressed up to kick ass and that is what they do. All the police departments need retraining in deescalating a situation and trying not to kill people. They also demand respect, well respect doesn’t work like that. You have to give respect to get respect.

  • Jim M - July 07, 2020

    If we didn’t live in a fallen world we wouldn’t need the police. If we weren’t, by nature, fallen creatures, we wouldn’t lie, steal, or murder our neighbor. Since it is obvious by the evil events we see happening around us that we are all sinful (a biblical truth), we need legal (and sometimes physical) restraints. God help us if we foolishly dismantle our police agencies. As we watch the rioting and looting that is going on in many of our cities we are already experiencing a taste of what would happen – anarchy.

  • chris - July 07, 2020

    The mob is fueled by hate and envy. Roaches don’t produce anything but feces and disease. Anarchists and other progressives are ROACHES! They just may get their way, which is why we Americans will keep our guns cleaned, oiled and loaded.

  • Sarah - July 07, 2020

    I’m not for defunding the police; I’m for getting training, not using people of color as a training poster, not using people as a shooting target. If they can take in mass murderers without killing them, they should also do the same with people of color. It may not be popular, but I do believe that we can all live in a society where laws are protected and those who are not following laws be punished as well. No one should be allowed to be willy nilly because they have a badge. All should be accountable for breaking laws, including those with badges.

  • Dan Russell - July 07, 2020

    Ever heard of a book named Revelations? It’s staring us in the face. I have a son-in-law in law enforcement and some retired officers in my family. They’re all disgusted with the whole situation. They see things in a totally different perspective. Unfortunately I took an entirely different route from the rest of my family and have paid my dues. No law enforcement? Beware the Dems get into office! Thanks for reading my drivel.

  • Dave Allen - July 07, 2020

    I will always support our police force. I can’t imagine life without police. It would be chaos, violence and looting. I thank every police man or woman for serving the people and community. Their job is often dangerous and thankless. So thank you to all the police for all they do for us.

  • Michael Ross - July 07, 2020

    The problem that exists today, only does so because of an exploitation and positioning of information to fit and idealistic, if not idiotic, agenda. Police do not become police to exact some personal racial justice. They do so out of a calling to be of service to our society. It’s an incredibly noble choice.
    Police are an integral part to order and lawfulness. What needs to change is the existence and power attributed to what has fabricated and continually perpetuates this ‘state of social duress’ that does not exist. The media, and left-wing politicians. But to do that, we need an educated, and broader thinking public. And for that, there seems to be no clear-cut path.
    What is happening here is the wolf, rounding up the sheep, and turning them against the sheep dog! Kill the wolf (figuratively speaking). Return the peace.

  • Cheryl E. Reed - July 07, 2020

    The idea of “defunding” the police has obviously come out of anger and frustration and the sterotyping of any “group” based on the actions of some is wrong. Serious vetting of anyone applying for a career in law enforcement, specifically one in which the carrying of a gun and being in day-to-day close contact with the general public is required, should be enforced instead.

  • Phyllis Young - July 07, 2020

    I pray for our police forces, sheriffs & all law enforcement to be cleansed of the evil that has slithered into our government & country. I will vote for 4 more years for PRESIDENT DONALD J TRUMP & VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE & the REPUBLICAN PARTY. 2 Chronicles 7:14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. AMEN🙏

  • Patricia Winstead - July 07, 2020

    My husband was a police officer for over 20 years I live Rockledge is security he was a police officer for for Cocoa ,Cocoa Beach and Yazoo Mississippi he died two years ago of a heart attack but as a police officer I’ve learned a lot about criminals and guns. And all the different drugs that are out there on the streets we need the police to protect us no matter what and you can’t.. defund the police because if they can’t keep up with what’s going on out on the streets with the criminals cuz no matter what the criminals are still going to get all the new guns new ammunition new bombs the police needs to know about that to can’t defund the police the police has to keep up with the age in which we live in and it’s not just police in the police cars we talkin about detectives we talkin about DEA you talkin about detectives that go into the cities and find out who’s the drug dealers are talk about SWAT you just can’t turn around and defund the police we need to police as a taxpayer I’m saying we cannot defund

  • P. Smith - July 07, 2020

    We must first educate ourselves on what our police actually do versus what we believe they do. The police peacefully and successfully resolve violent situatuations everyday. They also educate drivers during traffic traffic stops without issuing citations. These police contacts don’t make the news or social media. Incidents that make media are because they involved violence or death. It is naive to think that an individual is committing a violent will stop just because someone from community asks them to. The first thing the police do is ask people stop a certain bad, violent or threatening behavior. Sometimes individuals comply sometimes they don’t. Someone will have be able to intervene and stop violent acts. Who do you want to show up when you are being beaten and robbed at gunpoint? A social worker? The police? We, as members of a civilized society must have a sense of personal responsibility. Each and every individual is responsible for their own actions. Society needs to hold people accountable for those actions that negatively affect others. Laws and people to enforce those laws enable us to have civilized society.

  • Jack - July 07, 2020

    Crime, mayhem and chaos would explode – I have a sneaking suspicion Soros and all of his like minded sycophants have this as their bottom line end game….

  • G Gowens - July 07, 2020

    I care about our police force very much and when I see them doing their duty I give them a thumbs up and wave. I know they have a hard job do do being non judgmental and still trying to serve our community. We see what will happen to us if we try to protect ourselves and property from vandalism just by the couple in NY. They didn’t harm anyone and now the DA wants to throw the book at them. I strongly support our police. WE ALL MAKE PERSONAL MISTAKES. Allow them to do their jobs. I have seen when even off duty a policeman has come to the rescue and didn’t even think twice about if he was paid for his time. For most it is not a power trip. Thank you.

  • Connie Segeleon - July 07, 2020

    I have friends and family that work for the police department and a state trooper in the family. I used to work at the police department in the office and also know first hand what they went through day in and day out.
    They put their lives on the line every day and their families never know if when they walk out that door if it’s for the last time. They get very little respect if any, most of the time, They are called into horrific situations and have seen some of the worst things imaginable (sometimes like being in a war) yet they are supposed never react 😪 When they stop people for doing things that are against the law whether it be traffic or other, they are yelled at, spit on, called fowl names, people tell them, I pay your salary and you work for me. They are punched at, shot at, have had knives pulled on them, plus many other things. Yet the public thinks now that they should not react when these things happen to them. They are called out to issues only to be set up and killed. People want them to defend them but when they do, then they say there too mean and the treat them unfairly.
    They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t In about 98% of what they do.
    Are there bad police? Yes! A small percentage.
    Are there good police? Absolutely! A high percentage.
    The good outweighs the bad.

  • EThomas - July 06, 2020

    This country is turning into total anarchy, good example 4th of July weekend in many large cities.
    The police are retiring, transferring and quitting in historic numbers, I don’t blame them. The Left has tied their hands and put a target on their back. I don’t think we can go back. Change and animals are gaining control.
    Better prepare and be locked and loaded, we will have to protect ourselves and our families.
    I support the police and the Constitution.

  • Frank D - July 06, 2020

    Defund the police initially was meant to take away funding for military hardware like MRAMs, machine guns, etc. which I support.

    Getting rid of police altogether is ludicrous. But a change within the culture and mentality of police is long overdo.

  • Reid Smith - July 06, 2020

    The police have too much responsibility traffic stops violence those are appropriate. Beyond that the police need to turn over mental health problems housing problems and similar situations to non-violent appropriate action. defending the police is not ending the police force it’s simply transferring some of the funds and much different responsibilities to more appropriate directions. And for your information I am a never Trumper I voted for the Son of a…
    But the day he took office the things he began doing the first day I immediately became a never Trumper and regretted my vote!!!! I am not interested in your blog I’m not interested in your point of view I understand your point of view you don’t get the whole picture. I hope you actually post my comment. Somehow I doubt you will.

  • Huet - July 06, 2020

    I am fortunate to live where we have a Sherrif, not police. Our Sherrif and all of his deputies are well-trained and respect the entire Constitution.

  • Foster Bunday - July 06, 2020

    A great summary of issue. History was nice to know.

  • Donna Ellison - July 06, 2020

    I don’t believe that banning the police is the answer. People will be left to their own devices and where would the consequences be? There is already crime increases where the law isnt enforced correctly. Without police, there are no longer any laws to follow. Everyone will interpret law on their own which is already happening.

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