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Cops, Thugs, or Pigs?

cop1.jpgOver the past couple of months, I’ve been reading a lot about the relationship that he general public has with their local police forces. This was prompted by a number of news reports that I heard regarding the publics growing distrust and fear of their local cops, and a quick perusal of the web that indicated that police abuse is much more prevalent in america than I had ever realized.

The gist of what I have read is that most people, as long as they are white, affluent, “normal-looking”, and (most importantly) have never had any dealing with the cops, pretty much view the police as a minor nuisance who occasionally write them a traffic or parking ticket, but are otherwise pretty much just background noise. The folks that have ever had to actually deal with the cops have a much more negative view – if they have been the victim of a crime, they view the police as incompetent, inefficient, uncaring, and pretty much useless. If they have been accused of a crime, are being investigated, or have been selected by the police to be a scapegoat, they view the police as overbearing, dishonest, violent, abusive, and pretty much willing to do whatever it takes to get what they (the police) want, including breaking the law, lying, and fixing evidence. Of course, among the minorities (including whites that do not present themselves as “normal”), the cops are viewed as a regular threat to both liberty and safety. Minorities in larger cities have been the target of unwarranted police violence so often, that many of them actually view the police as an enemy.

Regardless of what sector of the population, the people seem to lump police officers into three basic categories: Cops, Thugs, and Pigs.

Even the most victimized of populations (like New York Blacks, Seattle minorities, L.A. Hispanics, etc) all admit that there are at least some cop.jpg“good cops” – cops that really are out to do the right thing, obey the laws, and are even handed and fair. In the more victimized populations, these cops are seen as an extreme rarity (in some cases, they are seen as extinct). In the affluent, normal, speeding ticket crowd, they are viewed as the most common type police officer there is. This is the “Officer Friendly” that we all want to believe is the normal cop. Helpful, fair, the whole “to serve and protect” thing. Interesting side note: hardly any police forces in america use that motto anymore. Anyway, Officer Friendly is almost always referred to as a “cop”. The term is not pejorative, contains a certain amount of respect, and pretty much refers to someone doing a decent job at being what people seem to think cops should be.


The second category of police officers are the “Thugs”. These are the ones that make the headlines after they have shot or beat some innocent (or not so innocent) civilian for no real reason. they are the poster children for police brutality. The ones that use their tasers on victims that are already down, that kick and beat people when they are handcuffed, shoot first and ask questions later, and pretty much use brute force with little or no provocation. These are the guys that should have ended up as mafia street enforcers, hell’s angels, or some other form of street terrorist, but somehow made it onto the police force, where they can hide behind their badges and still terrorize the civilians. Of course, once they’ve got a badge, they are immune to the repercussions of their actions. The interesting thing about these police officers is that most people that have never had to deal with the police think that they are extremely rare. People that have to deal with the police on a regular basis think that they are very common, and may actually represent the majority of street cops. Minorities and folks that live in the inner cities believe that not only are these thugs common, but that they represent the standards and expectations of the police force. The unfortunate that has only had one run-in with this type of thug, and has made any attempt at having the thug held accountable tends to think that this type of police officer is the norm, at least on the street, but believes that the reason there are so many of them is because of the “pigs”

pig.jpgpig.jpgThe Pigs are, simply, those cops that don’t actually participate in the actions of the thugs, but do everything they can to prevent the thugs from being held accountable. In other words, they are the police bureaucrats that do everything they can to protect the criminals that are police officers. The pigs are also the paper pushers and do-nothings that convince people that our police forces are incompetent and run by idiots. They are the ones that inform the victims of crimes that the police aren’t going to do anything, that the police are “too busy with other stuff” to help them, and pretty much just brush them off when they come asking the police to actually do their jobs. Almost every sector of the population believes that most of the police that are not on the streets fall into this category. The minorities and folks that deal with cops on a regular basis feel that a majority of the cops on the street are not only thugs, but are also pigs. They will do anything to cover for another cop, but will also do whatever they can to protect themselves (and other cops) from doing any real work.

So, how did we get to he point where so much of our population views the police as pigs and/or thugs, with an occasional cop thrown in? Almost any interaction anyone will have with a police officer is going to be negative. The most harmless interaction is a traffic or parking ticket. In almost all of these situations, the cop/thug/pig involved will be rude, domineering, condescending, and pretty much fail in every single aspect public relations you can imagine. Of course, when people approach the police expecting help or assistance, and get brushed off, or rude reactions, the police are doing nothing to help their image. The final problem is the fact that there are thugs and pigs out there, and the official attitude of police forces, judges, courts, and every other justice organization is that any police officer is always in the right, regardless of the situation. Until the police are willing to admit that they have thugs and pigs, and are willing to actually hold their pigs and thugs accountable (instead of protecting them), the publics view of the police will continue to deteriorate. At some point (we may already be there) relations between the police and the public will be so bad that the public will begin to form their own private police forces to do the jobs that the public police forces refuse to do.

An interesting example is some of the old Italian neighborhoods during the mafia days. Many of older relatives remember the mafia with fondness – they brought justice and order to their neighborhoods, and kicked out the crooked cops. The cops that fought back ended up dead. Harsh. Brutal. But it did make the neighborhoods safe for the common people. Safe from not only thugs and criminals, but also safe from the thugs and criminals that hid behind police uniforms. Yes, they had to pay “protection money” to the mafia, but it was less than the bribes they had to pay the police, and the mafia actually protected them, which the police had refused to do. I guess in some cases homegrown really is best.


2 Responses

  1. I remember hearing some news report a month ago about there being something like 230 accidents involving police officers in Massachusetts last year, and how in every single instance the officers was not at fault.

    I think women often have a more positive view of law enforcement, since they are less often on the recieving end of false suspicion. I suspect they recieve a pretty fair number of requests for dates or worse though.

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