We are in the midst of a long overdue reevaluation of police violence. To date, most conversations have focused on excessive uses of force—a problem of dismaying reach, with deep and lurid historical roots. Behind these conversations, however, a more fundamental question looms: what justifies police force even when it is not excessive? This question lacks a consensus answer; despite the prevalence of police violence in our legal order, it turns out we do not have a unified political theory to account for such violence. In this Essay, I sketch a number of familiar rationales for police violence and show why each—at least in its current configuration—is insufficient to carry the conceptual burden.
Brennan-Marquez, Kiel, "Toward a Political Theory of Police Violence" (2021). Connecticut Law Review. 507.