This book will arm activists on the streets—as well as anyone with an open mind on one of the key issues of our time—with a critical analysis and ultimately a redefinition of the very idea of policing. The book contends that when we talk about police and police reform, we speak the language of police legitimation through the art of euphemism. So state sexual assault become “body-cavity search,” and ruthless beatings become “non-compliance deterrence.”
A Field Guide to the Police is a study of the indirect and taken-for-granted language of policing, a language we’re all forced to speak when we talk about law enforcement. In entries like “Police dog,” “Stop and frisk,” and “Rough ride,” the authors expose the way “copspeak” suppresses the true meaning and history of policing. Like any other field guide, it reveals a world that is hidden in plain view. The book argues that a redefined language of policing might help chart a future free society.