Not all cops are bad cops, so we shouldn't hold the bad ones accountable?

April 24, 2015

There are tons of videos surfacing of cops beating someone unconscious, relentlessly tazing someone who has already submitted, and even shooting unarmed people who are running away. This has triggered a lot of outrage, but one common response we see is that "not all cops are bad cops!, there are just a few bad apples!"

This is true. Not all cops are bad cops. Even those who believe that the system of police and the laws that they enforce are inherantly unjust, will agree that there are at least a few police who want to do nothing other than keep their community safe, even though they will not support their actions because of the agency they are associated with.

But there are two types of people who will help these videos of violent cops go viral. There are the people who want the police to go away completely, the self proclaimed anarchists; and there are those who just want to hold the BAD offiers accountable to the same standards which they hold citizens accountable.

Now these two groups of people may seem radically different ideologically, but the truth is that these videos or only fueling the public distrust that leads to people converting from simple accountability to complete anarchy. As we have seen going way back to the Rodney King riots and up to the Ferguson riots, there is a breaking point at which people will become violent in response.

Yes, the riots might be in response to a person who was justifiably shot, as is the claim by those on the side of the police in the ferguson riots. But there is a bigger picture. There was no video of the incident, and there was plenty of video of other incidents proving that some police will lie to cover their mistakes. It is because of this, that there is a growing public mistrust of police.

The good cops, however don't usually make the spotlight. This is actually very common in many other aspects of your life. For example, if you have a bad customer service experience with a specific retailer, it is likely that you will tell 10 people about your experience. However exceptionally good experiences are only told on average to 3 people. Meanwhile mediocre experiences will not be mentioned. When was the last time you told someone about your experience buying soap? Likely you haven't in a very long time, because it's just an average day task for you.

But here is the problem. Although there are many of these good cops, there isn't a growing culture of support for them because they are just doing their job, and doing it in a way that it doesn't concern most other people. But when even 1 officer in the entire country is allowed to unjustly kill an unarmed person, and is set free without any criminal prosecution, receives paid leave from work, and is given his gun and the backing of the law to set back out into the streets - it concerns EVERYONE. Why? Because there is a fear that they might be next.

It's fine to support police. They arguably have a dangerous job, although the US department of labor statistics would argue otherwise. But supporting good cops does not mean you have to dismiss the crimes of the bad cops. But arguing that people shouldn't be upset with the handful of cops who commit horrible crimes against innocent people, is like saying we shouldn't be upset at any of the civilian criminals, because, afterall, most civilians are NOT criminals.

If 99% of interactions with cops do not end up with a video of a cop killing an unarmed innocent man going viral, we should not excuse the 1% who do. We should not excuse the other percent, whatever it may be, of police who do commit crimes but don't get caught on camera.

And until we start changing the rules of engagement so that innocent people are not killed by police making mistakes, and start punishing police as civilians when they commit crimes, there will be a public perception that police are above the law. This is why people hate police. They might take it out on all police. But if the good cops don't like the way they are being treated because of the way a few bad cops acted, then they have the responsibility, because they have the power, to push for accountability. Because the only way to make people stop hating police, is to hold them accountable for their actions.


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