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THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 2 M A R C H 2 0 1 7 175 propose to achieve that goal. One can still favour the maintenance of “law and order”, however, while finding means other than those advocates propound. Indeed, one solution—arming more private citizens with guns— constitutes the sort of unleashing of individual forces to defend and punish that feeds the “state of war” that centralizing power was to avoid; it seems contrary to the philosophical construct that Hobbes outlined. At the same time, the prospect of a more Hobbes-consistent path to “law and order”—announcing that the central power of which the police form part will be made stronger—can understandably aggravate a sense of insecurity among populations that had been subjected to state violence, if the plan is simply to equip the police themselves with more guns. That is not a true strengthening of the institution, in the sense it needs to be strengthened in order for “law and order” to prevail. The (few) police officers who have committed deliberate and terrible crimes or assisted in the covering up of those acts, as is alleged in Chicago, commit those crimes not simply against the individuals directly affected, but also against both their fellow officers and society at large. Those acts are a betrayal of the trust that was reposed in them. Those acts weaken the institutions on which we fundamentally depend, they expose more police officers—who are unfairly reviled because of their colleagues—to violence from either apprehensive or vigilante citizens, and they make more likely a scenario in which worried police officers overreact to pre-empt or address a perceived threat. Police expecting anger and a weapon may act both too soon and too strongly, in turn feeding a terrible cycle of mistrust. Unquestionably there are fundamental challenges to be faced. In the case of some police forces where misconduct is feared to have been institutionalized, the way to strengthen them (in a way that would then allow them to provide the meaningful security they were intended to provide) may be first to reform them. However, it is important not to dismiss such centralized institutions in favour of the goal that some in Chicago have adopted— in face of alleged police misconduct—of making the police “obsolete”. Private individuals policing themselves—a chaotic prospect if even some of Hobbes’s views are correct—are no substitute for a central power that can deter and step in. ENDNOTE 1. Some commentators point out, of course, that death tolls on the true modern battlefield are much greater than the toll of US soldiers suggests; counting both direct and indirect civilian casualties drives totals abroad far beyond those in Chicago. t t t t t


March Pages 2017
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