JOIN US at Alienated Majesty Books for the launch of The Danger Imperative: Violence, Death, and the Soul of Policing by local author and professor Michael Sierra-Arévalo. The event is on Friday, February 16, starting at 6:30 PM. There will be a reception with refreshments and an author talk, followed by a Q&A and book signing. This is a free event.
About The Danger Imperative:
Policing is violent. And its violence is not distributed equally: stark racial disparities persist despite decades of efforts to address them. Amid public outcry and an ongoing crisis of police legitimacy, there is pressing need to understand not only how police perceive and use violence but also why.
With unprecedented access to three police departments and drawing on more than 100 interviews and 1,000 hours on patrol, The Danger Imperative provides vital insight into how police culture shapes officers’ perception and practice of violence. From the front seat of a patrol car, it shows how the institution of policing reinforces a cultural preoccupation with violence through academy training, departmental routines, powerful symbols, and officers’ street-level behavior.
This violence-centric culture makes no explicit mention of race, relying on the colorblind language of “threat” and “officer safety.” Nonetheless, existing patterns of systemic disadvantage funnel police hyperfocused on survival into poor minority neighborhoods. Without requiring individual bigotry, this combination of social structure, culture, and behavior perpetuates enduring inequalities in police violence.
A trailblazing, on-the-ground account of modern policing, this book shows that violence is the logical consequence of an institutional culture that privileges officer survival over public safety.
About the Author:
Michael Sierra-Arévalo is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. His writing and research have been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, GQ, Vox, NPR, and other outlets. From 2020 to 2023, he served on the City of Austin’s Public Safety Commission. He holds a PhD in sociology from Yale University.