Community Control of Policing is a Bad Idea

Anonymous submission received 07.14.21

Civilian control of the police has long been a demand of groups seeking an end to the predation of police in their communities. It is an also an end that abolitionists have viewed as unworthy of attention. This resource created by Mariam Kaba and others outlines why civilian control has failed in the past and remains a mistake to implement now. But in our present moment groups in Pittsburgh are renewing a push for this flawed, failed program.

Pittsburgh’s Community Control Over the Police (CCOP) initiative has as a stated goal to create “a democratically-elected Civilian Police Control Council with full powers over the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police”. CCOP grew out of the #StopTheStation, a campaign by Socialist Alternative to prevent Pittsburgh Police from moving into a new station in East Liberty. Currently, activists are gathering signatures to get their legislation as a ballot initiative.

A brief digression illustrates the best case series of events for CCOP.

  • The signature drive must gather enough signatures for the legislation to be put on the ballot.
  • The ballot initiative must be successfully voted into law.
  • The legislation must survive inevitable legal challenges from the FOP et al.
  • The PA state government must at no point pass language preventing Pittsburgh from adopting such a measure.
  • The movement behind CCOP must win and continue to win the elections that fill the CCOP board.

Following this, at the next contract renewal (possibly years in the future) between Pittsburgh Police and the city the CCOP board will notionally be able to negotiate with the FOP. If police sympathizers happen to win enough of the elections any notional benefit of the whole system will be undone. This idea that systems of hierarchy can be good as long as the right people hold the levers of power is the strategy of the Democratic Party in the USA. That CCOP seeks to create more systems vulnerable in this way is pure folly.

Initiatives like CCOP legitimize the institution of policing. They make us think that policing can be “good” as long as the right people are in charge of hiring, firing, and discipline. This will not fundamentally change the brutality baked into the system. The only way to reduce the harm of policing is to defund, dismantle, and finally abolish. 

It is better if CCOP fails sooner rather than later. We do not need community control of the police, we need no more police. CCOP moves to entrench policing in our communities. I condemn the organizations and individuals who hold up CCOP as a goal. CCOP will not help liberate us and instead do the opposite.

A Pittsburgh anarchist, July 2021

[Photo: 2014, former Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay holds a sign and changes nothing.]

You can send your report-backs, zine submissions, critiques, graffiti/action photos, demo tapes, hate mail, & memes to…

We’ll try to get back to you in a reasonable amount of punk time.

Send reports in email form, as an attachment, or better yet, on an easy to use (and free) Riseup Pad or CryptPad.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s