This course will explore the history and contemporary debate over policing with a special focus on Portland. In the last few years, a major debate has emerged between those who argue for defunding or abolishing the police and those who push for expanding the police. Even some of those who argue in favor of police accountability and reform think we should increase resources to police and put more officers on the streets. By looking at media and politicians’ portrayals of crime and comparing them to actual data on crime, we will see how a largely false moral panic around crime has been mobilized to push for increasing funding for police. Portland became one of the centers of this debate in 2020 during the racial justice protests that led to more than one hundred consecutive days of protests and a deployment of federal and local police who brutally attacked demonstrators. Some of the questions we will be asking in this course are: What should the role of police be? What functions do the police serve now that can better be handled by unarmed alternatives? Do police disproportionally target BIPOC people, the houseless and the mentally ill? What would a society without police look like?