Rutgers sociologist Paul Hirschfield is available to discuss U.S. police violence and the possibility of reform. Hirschfield has researched why rates of police lethality in the United States are much higher than in Europe.

“The demand to defund the police has been dismissed as radical by various mainstream politicians, but it is much less radical when viewed in an international context,” Hirschfield said. “Unlike most high schools in the U.S., public schools in Europe maintain order and safety without stationing police inside them. The greater accessibility of mental health care, income and housing supports in Europe reduce the need for police to regulate the behavior and movements of the unhoused or respond to mental health crises. Defunding the police entails investing more public safety dollars in humane and effective alternatives to punitive strategies -- stops, arrests, jail, prison -- that often disrupt the very social ties and processes that keep communities safe.

“Public safety reinvestment and other structural reforms will not be easy. In the U.S., unlike in Europe, decisions about police funding are generally determined at the municipal or county level, where police officials and unions often wield shocking levels of political influence. More attention should be directed to state legislatures, governors and state attorneys general because they have the power to outlaw unnecessary deadly force, mandate and fund more extensive police training, rescind state-level special protections for bad cops and direct public safety reinvestment on a broad scale. However, achieving state-wide reform will require the groups who are mobilizing across the country to come together within their states as multi-partisan, hyper-diverse coalitions.”

Hirschfield is an associate professor of sociology and an affiliated professor in the criminal justice program at Rutgers ­New-Brunswick’s School of Arts and Sciences. His research includes a range of topics pertaining to crime and justice with an emphasis on their relationship to youth, education and social policy as well as deadly force by police.

For interviews, contact Megan Schumann at [email protected], 848-445-1907


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