cops do not exist to protect people. this is a misunderstanding of their purpose. they exist to protect capital and capitalist interest. let's go back a little. the first cop force--the met--was funded by wealthy merchants in 1829 to protect goods and shipping on the docks of london. they were mercenaries. guards. these brutes now go by the name the london metropolitan police, but the very core of their existence is built on a foundation of protecting the capital of the wealthy.
when you dig a little into the mission values of the met and other uk police agencies, you quickly realise how careful they are with their use of language in how they describe themselves and what their purpose is. in their own eyes they exist to "prevent crime" and "reduce fear and disorder" and "protect property". but what does any of that shit mean? aside from "protect property" which has been their clear modus operandi since the days of yore--protecting the fearful rich from the opportunism of the poor--these other definitions are vague and interpretive.
these vague notions of crime and disorder are suspicious. what is crime but a breach of the law written by the capitalists to preserve their status quo and protect them from those who seek change or to disrupt their power? it is a mutable thing that serves to protect their interests, freely re-written by them as and when required. what is disorder but a carte blanche cover-all label to slap down on any threat to the hegemony.
look too closely and see cops for what they are: hired thugs.
when a cop forces a homeless person to move on from a "nice area", they are not protecting people, they are protecting property. when a cop evicts a person from their home, they are not protecting people, they are protecting property. when a cop arrests a person for trespassing; when a cop arrests a person for graffiti; when a cop beats down a protester; the cop is serving the property.
cops disproportionately target the poor. where a rich white celebrity (or the prime minister) can brag freely on national television about snorting cocaine, a working class black kid with a gram of weed in his pocket--unfairly targeted by stop and search powers--will no doubt face the cuffs and jail. because crime.
consequences are for the poor. laws don't apply to the people in charge, and those who write the laws do so in their own interests, or the interests of their lobbyists, or the industries that earn them money (landlordism). cops protect those interests.
more than that, cops protect themselves. they consistently lie and cover up their own abuses of power, protecting and supporting each other to mask their abuse from any oversight. cops are notoriously uncooperative with oversight committees because they know if someone got a look at what they do, then the people would be appalled. meanwhile, they blast the media with carefully curated pro-cop propaganda and shoulder-mounted fly-on-the-wall ride along tv shows where they get to pick the message they want to portray to the people. and oh, an insidious message it is.
the message is "people are dangerous criminals and cops are the thin blue line that defends you from a derelict society driven by wanton chaos and violence". they want you to think that without them, you will never be safe. well, guess what? you aren't safe anyway.
murders, rapes, child abuse, domestic violence, hate crimes; all these things still happen, now, today, in the current system, regardless of the police. in fact, a lot of these crimes are committed without repercussion by the police themselves. police don't stop crimes from happening, they exist to punish them after the fact. sometimes. maybe. unless you are rich or a cop in which case you are exempt from consequence.
the carefully curated image of police as the thin blue line is designed to push people into feeling isolated and separated from each other. as long as you think that other people are out to get you, that other people are the monsters that the police want you to think they are, then you will of course feel like you need the existence of cops. the thin blue line is a wedge between people to drive them apart and put them against each other.
cops create a sense of fear in the people so that they--existing as a show of force in the periphery--can justify their own existence in your mind, when really they are something else: a pernicious threat that says "if you step out of line, you will deal with us".
they reconcile this in their own minds by separating themselves from civilians. they use division of hierarchy to position themselves over people, because they have power that the people don't have, and because they have authority that the people don't have, and because they are entrenched in a system of being in conflict with people. it's easier to enact violence against people when you believe that the people are lesser than you, or that people are problems, or enemies. they call this esprit de corps. it is the tribalism that binds cops together in an us versus them mentality where they can dehumanise the victims of their violence.
cops are a shadow of authority over the populace with the power to selectively enact violence against people. they protect the state and are protected by the state, and the people are powerless to defend themselves against their violence without facing repercussion.
this system is propped up by those who believe that law is an unbreakable doctrine of morality. the binding word of all that is good and evil, and if you just follow the law then you have nothing to fear from the police. this is stockholm syndrome. it is brain damage. it is an unfettered acceptance of oppression.
all cops are bad.
it's time to throw all cops in the sewers where they belong.
"but it's just a few bad apples right?"
in a systemic harm levied against the people, even "good" cops are enacting authority, violence, structural power, disproportionality, complacency, and complicity. because cops enforce "law"--whatever that happens to be at the time--they by nature commit harm. good cops put people in cages for smoking a plant. good cops evict homeless people from empty houses. good cops violently break up peaceful protests. good cops detain immigrants for breaching arbitrary border laws. the best a good cop can be is a tool for enacting the state's will.
"but they're just doing their job!"
since when did any job absolve you of committing harm?
"but if cops didn't exist, who would protect you from the strong exploiter who would step into the power vacuum to control people?"
this is the immortan joe argument. immortan joe was outnumbered and as soon as the people figured that out, they threw him off a cliff or something.
"so what does this imaginary world without police look like?"
it's a spectrum. thanks to the wonders of imagination, people have theorised a myriad of worlds without cops, ranging from simply resetting the power balance of cops into a non-authoritative position, to outright abolishing cops entirely. it turns out with a little exertion of thought, it's possible to think of more than just two possibilities. it's not a binary switch between police state and base animal chaos.
some (reformists) suggest stripping cops of authority and diverting funding into methods of harm reduction like mental health. other (reformists) suggest democratically elected police forces or community police. these reformists are losers and cowards.
some people have suggested restorative justice, mediation, resolving grievances between people, community support, and conflict resolution as methods of handling harm and disagreements between people that don't involve state-backed violence. this is okay (if a little tedious) when both parties can agree to repairing the division between them.
my personal suggestion:
anyone i don't like gets hit in the head with a foam baseball bat.