Contra Harvard criminologist William Stuntz, Radley Balko advocates for smart policing:

Incentives matter. Ideas matter. And all of this war rhetoric and anything-goes policies from elected officials has undoubtedly affected officer psychology, and poisoned the relationships between many police departments and their communities.

This is where Stuntz’s own rhetoric is unhelpful. Chicago isn’t Baghdad. U.S. cities aren’t battlefields, and the cops who patrol city streets aren’t soldiers. Residents of high-crime areas aren’t potential insurgents or enemy combatants. They’re American citizens with constitutional rights. Cops and soldiers have decidedly different missions, and it’s dangerous to conflate them.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to