“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
As police critics we have often used this quote as a way of addressing policing as an institution that has failed to evolve or adapt, but the very same sentiment could be applied to our movement. For decades we have centralized our narratives around reform and/or accountability, while making little ground in those areas, and in fact losing more of it over time. On top of that, we have failed to recognize that our attitudes are fundamentally identical to the institution we oppose.
It is of little wonder then that we seem to them more like a dangerous threat, rather than a voice of reason and compassion. By usurping the central tenets of policing we present ourselves as the anti-police, when instead we should be focused on what we are actually for. We become opposition rather than inspiration, and create fear instead of curiosity and excitement. Many of us came to distrust police after our own negative interactions with them, which is what inspired us to take a deeper look at the issues and make personal sacrifices in service of meaningful, healthy change through our activism.
The solution to the problems of policing is not in an oppositional stance, but in creating the paradigms which make policing as we know it obsolete. This is big picture thinking that goes beyond accountability and reform; a search for progress instead of vengeance. Policing is embedded in society as a whole, and its issues will not be resolved by addressing policing alone. We must explore the roots of what made policing seem necessary in the first place and address those issues.
Beyond the Badge is not just about thinking beyond policing, but thinking about policing in a more holistic way that also addresses related issues of other problematic centralized institutional monopolies. Rather than a battleground of conflict, we hope to create a community of people from all areas of the issue that will work together on creating solutions for social issues to which policing services have a monopolized response, with a focus on community empowerment rather than centralized mandates.
Let us use this forum to lead by example. Let us illustrate in our interactions the virtues of respect and understanding that we wish to see replace coercive authority. If we honor the complexity of other perspectives and consider them in our responses to one another, then we can build allies out of what once seemed like enemies, and work towards something more important than just being right or wrong. The victory we seek is not anti-anyone, but pro-everybody.