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Building out a place less than 100 years in the future where the world is finally in agreement that it's coming to an end, in about 10 years or less. The air is trash, high government people are in space or in their little safety castles in New Zealand, and most citizens are trapped within city limits due to the scarcity of resources. In this specific city, people on the ground level live in constant threat of violence disease and starvation.

I'd love to make it possible for law enforcement to be an outright abandoned position with 10 years to go for the world, with a little logic tied in. Currently in Chicago (throwing police under the bus here of course) I have friends with family in law enforcement who specifically avoid calls in certain areas on the south side due to lack of training, safety concerns, lack of balls, what have you.

I'm trying to envision that real position abandonment on a wider scale across a major city given the circumstances. Obviously the high end government posts have been abandoned, so I'm trying to map out a trickle down effect that reaches local law enforcement. Can you?

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    $\begingroup$ You can look at failed states: somalia, afghanistan, etc. Basically, people form groups based on tribal/religious/ethnic links, and designate some of their number to serve as militia. $\endgroup$ – Bald Bear Nov 19 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ Can you put a specific question here? It's pretty vague. "Envision the real position" what? $\endgroup$ – puppetsock reinstate Monica Nov 19 at 18:54
  • $\begingroup$ @puppetsock as the majority of high government posts are abandoned in the face of environmental and societal collapse, can you see that abandonment trickling down to local law enforcement? $\endgroup$ – fangthetramp Nov 19 at 18:59
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    $\begingroup$ I feel like getting everyone to agree that the world is coming to an end is probably harder than saving the world in the first place. $\endgroup$ – Cadence Nov 19 at 19:06
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    $\begingroup$ How are citizens stuck within city limits because of lack of resources? They must be getting their food and water from some outside source, so why can't they expand territory into those areas? $\endgroup$ – Snowshard Nov 19 at 19:09
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As official enforcement fades or fails, unofficial enforcement rises. It starts as vigilantes. And then some local charismatic leader gets a few blocks organised. Maybe it's only guys walking in a group and carrying clubs at first.

Resources of any kind become the sources of power for fiefdoms. Source of food, source of water, source of shelter, source of weapons, source of medicine, etc. Various deals and alliances develop. Whacky people last for a while doing whacky things. Then people get sick of them, and some event occurs to change things, maybe not for the better.

Lots of movies and TV shows. The Walking Dead is big on this theme. So are many westerns. As mentioned in a comment, Somalia is in the process. The parts of the former USSR provide many examples of possible paths.

Depending on the level of available tech, a new political structure will develop. Probably after a lot of people die due to violence, starvation, exposure, and disease. You will get local strongmen who hold together a city block or two. Or set fire to a city block or two in order to get rid of an annoying neighbor.

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    $\begingroup$ And this is why neither pure anarchy nor a money-less world is possible: if you remove law enforcement, or you remove money, very soon people will come up with a substitute to take its place. $\endgroup$ – vsz Nov 20 at 5:33
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It is pretty straightforward: citizens obey the law enforcement because they know that there is a government behind them, exercising its power.

If the government is not capable of exercising its power, then the law enforcement are simply wearing a fancy dress taken from some Village People video clip.

You state that the high up are gone, it means there is nobody in the government to exercise any power.

In other words if I dress like a policeman of the Austroungarian empire and start walking in the road of any of its former possession shouting orders, I will be lucky if I get just laughed at.

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  • $\begingroup$ Exactly, and I think my loophole could be a government shutdown due to bipartisan divide, and with Trump 2 or 3 in the hot seat I could easily see that going down as an excuse to stop pretending to lead in order to escape. $\endgroup$ – fangthetramp Nov 19 at 19:13
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TL;DR Anarchy and chaos would ensue

Actual answer In a situation that you have presented, yes, there would be an "effect" on the populace. As you stated, the high-end government has pulled out of their positions, to their various places. The remainder that has been left behind would have a sort-of collapse effect. The high-end remainders would do one of two things; leave, or install a sort-of dictatorship. The others would do almost the same. There would be looting and r*ping from the lower-level forces, as they realize that there is no law left. There would be revolts from the citizens, and there would be anarchy. Citizens could and would form factions, and would attack their new oppressors or other factions.

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Looking from a western civilization viewpoint, it would look very bad, however it would not be murder in the streets and burning the town down in chaos. Where I stay, the police force is pretty much broken. Corruption runs so deep, the high up powers are all bribed and paid off, and so do nothing other than loot all finances. The boots on the ground, even if they wanted to do something, can't as they have no support or equipment. This has led a to there being a fair amount of the country with areas where state services do not go to whole cities and towns, not just some parts of the city. Police vehicles get stoned and burned, Ambulance and firefighting vehicles get hi-jacked and stripped, etc.

The residents do not want the government there, as they have a system which works better, in their opinion, and our name for it is Mob Justice.

Gangs run a lot of the stuff, from drinking establishments and gambling and drugs, to prostitution, to local bashing and intimidation rackets, down to petty theft. For the most part however, normal people just go about their daily lives. There are rules that everyone knows you do not break though. 1. You never harm your neighbors. ( If you commit crimes, do not do it in your area. Steal from the people over there, go sell drugs over there. Gang fight? do it over over on that side, etc.) 2. Some crimes are off limits. Steal someones cell phone, you might get chased by some people for a couple of blocks. If they catch you they will beat you up, and then its done. Harm a woman or child, and the entire community will band together to find you, and when they do they will kill you. A common favorite is called necklacing. Sensitive viewer warning (It involves forcing a tire over the person, pinning their arms to the side, dousing them in petrol or other flammable liquids, and then burning them.) 3.Your actions must benefit the group. Stealing from those people, brings money into your local area. Alcohol, drugs, prostitution etc being run, is for those that stay in the area.

Just some of the kinds of unwritten rules. When everyone obeys, stuff runs smoothly. When someone breaks it, all hell breaks loose. So while you would not get a total anarchy situation, it is still lawless.

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In my city there are alredy vast areas that police rarely go, and when they go, they go with armored veihicles, kill some drug cartel soldiers, loot the cocaine and guns and leave.

Why is it so? Because the cartels are better equipped, know their territory, have more money that can be used both to fund their quasi-military operations and bribe the top cops, judges and politicians, while the cops are poorly equipped, poorly trained, their pay is low and their leadership is corrupt, incompetent or have their hands tied due to lack of cooperation, bribed judges and laws passed by politicians financed by the cartels. For all pratical proposes the soldiers in the police force have been abandoned by their leadership, the State.

What the low level cops, angry with this situation did? They created militias that, at first, focused on killing cartel members without following due process, they simply invaded the slums and killed the cartels. Of course, that costs money, because the cops had to buy their own guns and amno, fuel their own cars, etc. So the cop militias became cartels themselves, extorting the neighborhoods, selling drugs, running abortion clinics and bordellos.

The cops became the criminals they intended to fight.

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It seems to me that if everyone knows that the world will end in ten years or less, then the lack of a local police force is among the least of their problems.

Perhaps more importantly, it's not the most-interesting story to tell about this scenario, although that's obviously a subjective opinion on my part.

My world-building suspicion is that pretty much everyone's life becomes essentially parasitic -- feeding off whatever has already been created. If the world is lucky, it'll end before the Spam and Twinkies run out.

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There's that old saying that a society is only three meals away from anarchy. Being that the government and other high ups have left, then it seems unlikely that anyone is around to pay the police force, army or other government officials, if money even has any value still. So policing - at least in the protect and serve capacity - does not give the police themselves any resources, like food, or other benefits that you might want considering the world is ending soon. There is little incentive for them to remain, so it seems likely that a lot of them may just leave the force and find other methods to get money, food or resources.

I would imagine some may use their skills, training and any equipment they have managed to hang on to and offer up their services to people who are resource rich as private security. Others may form militia or gangs and use their skills to rob others, or create safe zones for a price.

A few may stick around for a while, out of a sense of duty or in an attempt to maintain order. However, what are they meant to do with any criminals they arrest? They have no money or resources coming in, so they are unlikely to be able to imprison them and just keep them alive. This means they either need to use the prisoners somehow to farm or make stuff they can use or trade or alternatively execute anyone who commits any crime. If its the former, then once it gets to a certain prison population size - how do they maintain control? If its the latter - it may maintain order for a very short while, but it isn't going to sit well with regular people, who are probably all committing a few minor crimes just to stay alive and the police force will eventually be overthrown.

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