top of page

From Enforcers to Guardians

This book is a primer examining the ways in which public health practitioners can help to end police violence.

AUTHORS: Hannah L.F. Cooper; Mindy Thompson Fullilove

PUBLISHED: John Hopkins University Press, 2019.



Excessive police violence has many facets. It is a tragedy for its victims, for the people who love them, and for their broader communities. It is a violation of civil and human rights. It provides evidence that policing policies have strayed from the collective vision of ensuring public safety. It poses a challenge to the nation’s health.

Because of this threat to health, in this primer we approach police violence as a public health problem. Public health is concerned with the health of the whole population, especially as a function of our federal, state, and local governments. Public health workers identify patterns of illness and death across and within populations; develop interventions to maximize well-being and eliminate inequities in health treatment and outcomes; implement these interventions through the nation’s public health system; and evaluate their impacts.

We use our discipline’s tools to examine the nature of excessive police violence in the United States. We review what we have learned thus far about its distribution and its impact on individual and population health. These data demonstrate that the police serve as enforcers of inequality, which undermines population health. In 2015, President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing pro-posed that instead of the current system, which we call “distorted policing,” police should act as guardians of us all. In this primer, we chart a path toward guardianship...

Download the Full Text Below

Download PDF • 4.87MB


bottom of page