Behind the Blue Wall. At the 2010 Jesus Radicals conference in Portland, Andy Alexis-Baker critiqued the notion of “just policing” that some Christian ethicists have put forward as an alternative to nation-state war.
A term which describes both individual officers and a system, or institution in society that exists only at the split between those who have and those who do not. Historically and currently, the police system has served/serves mostly as a tool for the powerful in racial and class conflict. There have not always been police institutions. Before the 19th century people took care of “crime” without an institutional police force. The police arose with the rise of the nation-state and with industrialization. They served to pacify the populace in both instances. In the U.S., the police have even more sinister origins: slave patrols (see “The Gospel or a Glock“). So the police serve interests, usually those of the more well-off in society, while the less well-off often have a very different view of the police. Additionally, the police in the western world are largely militarized. Many police departments in the United States, for example, have budgets and weaponry that far surpass the armies of small states. The police can react to the slightest domestic disturbance with extreme and overwhelming violence. Finally, the police represent the state’s monopoly on violence. Even if the police only carry tasers or handcuffs, they represent a collective power to overwhelm anyone who resists their authority.