What is De-Policing?

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  • Written By: Herb Marlow
  • Edited By: Jay Garcia
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2019
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De-policing could be called the backlash of racial profiling. Though the idea of de-policing has been around for several decades, it was not until the late 1990s that the title “de-policing” was actually used. The definition of de-policing is: a police force that partially shuts down its policing activities as a defensive reaction to accusations of discrimination or police misconduct. Policemen may answer 911 calls and investigate major crimes such as murder or bank robbery, while ignoring traffic violations or the burglary of a residence if committed by certain minority citizens.

De-policing came about as the reaction of police departments being accused, justly or unjustly, of using excessive force, committing criminal acts, or targeting minority races, racial profiling, in arrests of infractions of the law, while favoring the majority race in a community by ignoring their law breaking. When denials fell on deaf ears, the police departments used a strategy of de-policing to stop extending full police protection to the citizens of the community.


When a police department is accused of racial profiling, the accusation suggests that police officers are targeting the members of a certain race to arrest them for crimes committed solely because they are members of the targeted race. The unspoken underside of racial profiling suggests that officers may ignore members of other races who commit crimes, while they are focusing on the target race. These accusations are difficult to prove or disprove, and when a police department is accused, sometimes rather than attempting to prove that they have not been profiling a certain race, they may turn to de-policing as a means of defense. The theory is that if police officers ignore crimes committed by the races they have been accused of profiling and targeting, there will be no more accusations.

Unfortunately, while de-policing might see numbers of arrests go down in the overall population, the communities where de-policing takes place will usually see a rise in criminal activity. In the past few years, several large American cities have experienced de-policing following accusations of misconduct by police officers. While de-policing, as a reaction to adverse criticism may be understandable, it may not be the best way to deal with the problem.


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Post 5

@mobilian33: What would you have the police do? When they arrest, you get angry, when they don't arrest, you get angry. I think that most are looking to set the police up to get a pay day. The police could solve all crime, stop world hunger, cure cancer and people would still hate them. So give them what they want, what you want: no police in their neighborhood.

Post 4

Depolicing is simply not enforcing laws that the people no longer support. Should someone be arrested, car towed, etc. for simple administrative violations? The masses say no.

Selling cigarettes? Not showing up on minor warrants? Stealing cigarellos? No, no one wants their baby arrested for doing these things, so why expect police to do it?

Post 3

I agree with mobilian33. The best way of combating the accusations of racism and corruption and illegal use of force against policemen is not de-policing, and letting criminals go free. If you want to change your image then work more closely with people and have a more open door policy, so citizens can see what is going on with the police.

I think more citizens should be encouraged to take ride-alongs with police officers who are on duty. This way the citizens can get a better picture of what the police officers do as they observe them at work.

Post 2

I can understand the perspective of the men and women who work on the police force. There is a constant criticism of law enforcement offices. Some groups are always saying how bad law enforcement is and how corrupt police officers are. Maybe a little de-policing will help the critics to see just how bad things could really be without the police force.

Yes, there are bad police officers, but let's not judge all of them by the actions of a small number of them. Add up all of the interactions between policemen and citizens during a 24 hour period, and then add up all of the cases of police abuse over that same period and you will see just how small of a percentage we are talking about.

Post 1

How ridiculous of an idea or a policy is this de-policing? I heard the term earlier today and had no idea what it meant. It sounds like something a little kid would do not a police department.

The little kid stops trying at football or school work because everyone is always criticizing him and no one ever compliments him on the good stuff he does.

And are police officers actually being paid for de-policing. It's as if they are saying we aren't going to do our jobs anymore, but we still expect to be paid like usual. This policy makes me angry just thinking about it.

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