The Policing Question: Protection vs. Service in 2020

Note: The NLG National Office, in collaboration with NLG Review, will be publishing a 4-part blog series exploring questions around policing in the United States. Guild members will be sharing pieces analyzing the policing of social movements, the role of police in maintaining current power dynamics, and alternatives to policing from community power to defunding to abolition. The goal of this series is to generate discussion and conversation among our members and the public regarding the current state of policing and to envision new strategies of social organization. Please also read the Guild’s recent resolution supporting the abolition of policing passed by the membership in 2020. 

In the first article of the series, law professor and NLG Review board member Harold McDougall discusses who police are intended to protect and serve, offers an overview of policing debates and alternatives, and proposes a community service model for dispute mediation, environmental protection, economic and social development, and rapid response needs. 

Read the full piece below, or download the PDF.


Harold McDougall of Howard University School of Law is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School. He has a background in civil rights and community organizing, and served as Washington Bureau Chief for the NAACP in the late 1990s. Professor McDougall specializes in civic culture and civic infrastructure, focusing particularly on how these support sustainable social and economic development and human rights. Prof. McDougall has written numerous articles and Huffington Post blogs, as well as two books pursuing these themes—Black Baltimore: A New Theory of Community and African American Civil Rights in the Age of Obama: A History and Handbook. Recent articles include “The Challenges of Legal Education in the Neoliberal University,” (NLG Review, 2015) andThe Rebellious Law Professor: Combining Cause and Reflective Lawyering,” (J. Legal Education, 2015). The Rebellious Law Professor was featured in Scholastica’s spotlight blog. Areas of expertise include civil rights, sustainable development, human rights, land use and development, community development, and gentrification. He can be reached at


Download the PDF file .


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