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99 Wash. U. L. Rev. 65 (2021-2022)
Crime and the Mythology of Police

handle is hein.journals/walq99 and id is 71 raw text is: CRIME AND THE MYTHOLOGY OF POLICE
The legal policing literature has espoused one theory of policing after
another in an effort to address the frayed relationship between police and the
communities they serve. All have aimed to diagnose chronic policing
problems in working towards structural police reform. The core principle
emanatingfrom these theoretical critiques is that the mistrust ofpolice among
communities     of   color   results  from    maltreatment,    illegitimacy,   and
marginalization from the law and its enforcers. Remedies have included
police training to encourage treating people with dignity, investing in body
cameras and other technology, providing legal avenues to encourage
constitutional action by police, and creating a voice for community members
to express their needs. These preeminent policing theories do not fully
address a core cause of police mistrust and disaffection of communities of
color and the poor. To address these symptoms of policing failure requires a
consideration of the purpose and function of police. At the core of police
function is a misunderstanding ofpolicing that this Article terms the police
The police myth is the twofold belief that a primary function of police is
crime control and that police solve crimes with regularity. Reliance on the
police myth may provide societal comfort but has made it difficult to address
rudimentary policing failure. Without understanding what police actually do
and their relationship with crime, it is impossible to reimagine policing. This
Article seeks to understand the myth that in large part contributes to the
anomie between police and communities of color, but also creates a structural
Associate Dean of Faculty Research and Development, Presidential Scholar and Professor of Law,
University of Utah College of Law. Special thanks to Monica Bell, Jamelia Morgan, John Rappaport,
Jocelyn Simonson, Tracey Meares, Carissa Hessick, Alec Karakatsanis, Rachel Harmon, Andrew
Ferguson, L. Song Richardson, Sandra Mayson, Paul Robinson, Barry Friedman, Elizabeth Job, L. Song
Richardson, Benjamin Levin, Seth Stoughton, Jenny Carroll, Christopher Slobogin, Ronald Allen, Paul
Gowder, Sheila Bedi, Daniel Epps, Andrew Ferguson, Cathy Hwang, Brandon Garrett, Ben Grunwald,
David Ball, Chad Flanders, Jenia Turner, Cecilia Klingele, Noah Smith-Drelich, Jon Ben-Menachem,
Justin Murray, Jennifer Laurin, Eric Miller, Christopher Griffin, Paul Cassell, Paul Heaton, Russell
Gold, Adele Quigley-McBride, Merit Hofer, Vikrant Reddy, and Anna Roberts for invaluable assistance
and contributions to this piece. This piece benefited from presentations and participation at the Duke
Criminal Empirical Conference, University of Texas, University of Arizona, and Northwestern
University Law School. I am grateful for research and editorial assistance from Jessica Morrill, Zachary
Scott, Jacqueline Rosen, Kenneth Peterson, Rebekah Watts, Nathan Jackson, Angela Tumbow, Valeri
Craigle, Melissa Bernstein and Ross McPhail. I am grateful for the hard work of the Washington
University Law Review, especially Maya Kieffer, Bailey Crawford, Jake Keester, Mili Nadipalli, Emily
Yonan, and Rosalie Swingle.


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