Americans want to believe in good cops. The proof is all over the entertainment industry; cop shows have been a staple for decades. (Seriously, just how long has Law & Order been on the air?) It’s one of the reasons why so many Americans believe cops are above the law — you have to speed to catch criminals, right? ‘Good cops’ make people feel safe. They make you believe there is order and justice in the world. Too bad it’s an illusion.
When people ask me if I believe all cops are bad, I have to say yes. Yes, I do. This offends a lot of people of the “my brother/father/friend is a cop!” variety, which is understandable; people want to believe their friends and family are good people. And of course, the cops themselves are offended by this, too, because no one ever sees themselves as the villain. Humans always manage to come up with justifications for the things they do, and cops are no different from the rest of us in this. So, why do I believe all cops are bad? And what can we do about it?
The one thing we can all agree on is that SOME cops are bad. It’s hard for even right-wingers to argue with the dozens of videos popping up daily, showing cops abusing their authority in varying degrees of severity. The “Good Cop / Bad Cop” trope is firmly at the center of American culture. But exactly what percentage of cops are ‘bad’ is still up in the air. The fact that around 40% of cops in the U.S. have admitted to domestic abuse is telling, and that figure is only the violence the officers surveyed have self-reported. Think about how many more abused spouses and children there must be who are never reported. The MAGAt’s mantra of “Just a few bad apples” would have us believe bad cops are in the minority, and that most cops are good. I am willing to explore that idea; however, first I must define a few terms.
A Good Cop™ is a police officer who took an oath to uphold the Constitution and MEANT it. This is an officer who holds ALL people accountable to the same laws, treats the citizens with respect, and doesn’t abuse their authority. This includes fellow officers; good cops do not shield criminals, even if those criminals wear badges.
A Bad Cop™ is a police officer who does NOT uphold their oath to the Constitution, who breaks laws, and abuses their authority. Bad cops tend to be hard-core members of the Blue-Line Gang.
The Blue-Line Gang (BLG) is a criminal organization that operates within all police departments nation-wide, and is usually heavily linked to the police unions. BLG members believe all cops are above the law, and behave accordingly. Like many gangs, they call themselves a ‘brotherhood’, and the single most important rule they have is the same rule all gangs have — the gang comes FIRST, over law, over the truth, over everything. All members of the Blue-Line Gang must “back the blue” regardless of anything their fellow cops might have done … oaths to the Constitution be damned.
Let us consider first what many folks believe: most cops are good, and only a few are bad. So, in a police department of 100 cops, let’s say 10% are Bad Cops and the rest are Good Cops. However, a Good Cop would not tolerate a Bad Cop; any time a Bad Cop would break the law in front of a Good Cop, that Good Cop would report him. If most of the cops are good, in a very short amount of time, that Bad Cop would be out on his ear. Good Cops wouldn’t want any Bad Cops in their department, tarnishing their reputation. So, if Good Cops were the majority, then any Bad Cops that appeared would be booted as soon as they exposed themselves, and Bad Cops would NOT be a problem.
But that’s not what happens, is it? Instead, as soon as a cop is exposed for breaking the law, the ‘Blue Code’ prevails, and the whole department closes ranks. We are told what amounts to: “The Police Department investigated itself, and found that the officers in question did nothing wrong.” We often learn that bad cops are promoted, regardless of the abuse accusations that pile up in their personnel file, and the only time action is taken against bad cops is when their criminal behavior gets exposed to the public. Derek Chauvin had TWO DECADES of complaints against him, but it took murdering George Floyd on camera for the world to see before his superiors finally started holding him accountable. Tamir Rice’s murderer was never held accountable. Neither was the cop who murdered Philando Castile, or the ones who killed Breonna Taylor. Shoot, look at the Tyre Nichols video. You were probably horrified when you saw it, but to the cops who beat Tyre to death, it was an ordinary Saturday. Those Memphis cops’ behavior after the beating clearly demonstrates that to them, this was not extraordinary… this was the norm. It is difficult to reach any conclusion other than one: there are no good cops. ALL COPS ARE BAD.
Let’s now look at what would happen if Good Cops were the minority in a police department, as many on the left believe. Bad Cops wouldn’t tolerate Good Cops any more than the good ones would tolerate the bad. To the Bad Cop, the Good Cop is the ENEMY OF ALL COPS, because Good Cops prioritize the law over their fellow officers. From the Bad Cops’ perspective, Good Cops are traitors to the BLG; those cops are treated accordingly, and are driven out of the department as quickly as they are identified. YouTube is packed with videos by former police officers, like Stephen Mader, who tried to de-escalate a situation with a suicidal man holding a gun. While Officer Mader was trying to reason with the suicidal man, two other officers arrived; they immediately shot the suicidal man dead… and Officer Mader was subsequently fired. The message is clear: the Blue-Line Gang doesn’t tolerate Good Cops. Period.
This is why police departments have informal ‘initiations’ for new cops joining the force to make them part of the ‘brotherhood’. These initiations usually happen outside work hours, and involve breaking the law in some form or another. The new cop must demonstrate to their new ‘brothers’ that they are willing to break the law to be one of them. Once again, the only conclusion left to draw is that there are no good cops. ALL COPS ARE BAD.
If there are any flaws in my reasoning, please let me know. I welcome criticism. As for solutions… until we change public thought on this issue, I see no cure. Cops will continue to break the law and abuse their authority for AS LONG AS WE LET THEM. So, until we convince the majority of the American public that the police are NOT above the law, we will continue to have Bad Cops.
Grandma is a kindly old widow who lives in her own private asylum in Finley with her cats and peacocks. Her hobbies include playing with Legos, collecting feathers, and making things.