Yes, all cops are bastards.
The usual responses to this statement are phrases like “But my dad is a cop!” or “But what about this cop who fed the homeless?” or a regurgitation of any good deed one single cop may have done. The truth is, protestors standing in the streets with signs proclaiming “ACAB” or “All Cops Are Bastards” are protesting against more than just the individual — they are protesting the job itself and the system.
The police force in the United States has never been about protecting people. If you look up its origins, you’ll find that the six-pointed star every kid was obsessed with while playing “Cops and Robbers” is exactly the same star that identified a member of the “slave patrol,” just with a bit of paint and a new name. After the Emancipation Proclamation, the brand-new “sheriffs,” the slave patrol’s new alias, could now pretend that what they were doing was totally different from their slave-catching history.
With this history in mind, it isn’t a surprise that racism and profiling are so deeply ingrained in the police force of the 21st century. It isn’t a surprise that trials involving Black people get stalled. It isn’t a surprise that the police officer responsible for the death of Breonna Taylor was only charged for the damage to the neighbors’ walls from the bullets that missed.
The job of being a cop itself does not and cannot allow “good eggs.” Any cop who truly joins in an effort to idealistically make the world a better place will be driven to quit, be corrupted, or be fired.
A former police officer wrote a piece confirming this pack mentality while recollecting their experiences in the police force. In it, he anonymously wrote under the name “Officer A. Cab.”
“In my police academy class, we had a clique of around six trainees who routinely bullied and harassed other students: sexually harassing female trainees, cracking racist jokes, and so on,” Officer A. Cab wrote. “I wrote scathing accounts of their behavior… the academy staff read my complaints to them out loud and outed me to them and never punished them, causing me to get harassed for the rest of my academy class.”
Police officers form a pack. They protect their own, not the people. If “good cops” threaten their own by providing testimony, filing a report, or even doing something as innocuous as leaving their body cam untouched or untaped, they’re no longer a part of the pack.
“That’s how I learned that even police leadership hates rats,” Officer A. Cab said.“That’s why no one is ‘changing things from the inside.’ They can’t, the structure won’t allow it.”
Officer A. Cab did what he thought was the right thing. Instead of the staff taking his complaint, disciplining, or even evaluating the trainees’ behavior, they broke anonymity and singled Officer A. Cab out in front of everyone. This speaks to the system’s fundamental flaws.
If that’s what happens to a police academy student complaining about his squadmates’ behavior, what would the repercussions be for a civilian that files a complaint about an officer’s use of excessive force?
The very foundations of the police are racist, harmful, and unfortunate relics of a system that should have been left in the past. What the United States and the rest of the world needs are people who are compassionate and don’t have a pack mentality.
We need people who don’t look at the civilians they are charged with protecting, especially those who are people of color, as though they might be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. We especially don’t need people like cops who would rather shoot first and check later if the life they’ve ended is a wolf after all.
Reach writer Anna Miller at email@example.com. Twitter: @lesakuraciel
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