The public rhetorics of policing in times of war and violence: countering apocalyptic visions
Public debate about post 9/11 policing presumes for the most part that the world changed fundamentally at that point and that policing powers and tactics have altered in response. For some people, largely defenders of the necessity of a strong security stance, the changes have been possibly not enough. For others, opponents of the security state, the changes represent a latest installment in an always threatening rise of totalitarian policing. Seen in macro-perspective these views represent the politics of security, helping to shape, modulate, contain, expand, limit the powers available to police, and the possible uses of them. These opposing views, very often highly antagonistic in expression, are part of the politics, and do not stand outside them. They have also been heard before. In seeking to understand what policing means for stable societies under threat of political violence, this article examines some key transitions in the development of security policing over the last 100 years in Australia, highlighting some of the contextual features that have shaped them. In doing so it will suggest that apocalyptic rhetoric is part of the politics of policing, shared by both advocates and opponents of tougher policing, and in tension with the more sober realities of a policing that operates within a framework of enabling as well as limiting conditions.
Crime, Law and Social Change