It’s A Few Bad Apples Or Police Departments Or Maybe The Entire System

“It’s just a few bad apples.”

This is pretty much how every police apologist begins the argument, when faced with instances of law enforcement malfeasance. While there are a slew of familiar excuses for various acts of police abuse – “just doing their jobs,” “the victim was drunk,” “the victim asked for it because he failed to comply,” etc., those become difficult to apply when police behavior is so inexcusable and abhorrent that even their staunchest defenders are at a loss for words. Examples of this would include shooting unarmed people in the back, tasering children in the headkilling children, or beating pregnant women, among others.

In those situations, police-worshippers fall back on, “It’s just a few bad apples.” Alas, cop-lovers who lazily fall back on this term forget the full idiom: “A few bad apples spoil the whole bunch.” Applied correctly, it would seem this saying actually supports what police critics have been arguing all along – that the whole bunch is inevitably rotten by this point.

Numerous lawsuits arose after Chicago Police Department Lieutenant Jon Burge engaged in repeated acts of torture and forced confessions of innocent people over decades. The department (not just a few individual officers) is alleged to have maintained “black sites” where officers purportedly engaged in off-the-books interrogation of people without attorneys, and by using torture (more here).

Just a few years ago, the entire police department of Bell was taken over after allegations of salaries inflated by corruption and voter fraud that occurred over several years.

More recently, a third of the King City Police Department’s officers were arrested on various charges, including bribery.

Police are not the only law enforcers whose “bad apples” are less rare than one would hope. Earlier this year, 9th Circuit judges lamented a pattern of prosecutorial misconduct in the state of California when Deputy Atty. Gen. Kevin R. Vienna appeared before the court to uphold murder convictions against Johnny Baca in Riverside County. Lower courts had determined prosecutors had used false evidence in Mr. Baca’s trial, but upheld the verdict regardless. Judge Alex Kozinski asked Vienna about defending convictions “obtained by lying prosecutors.” Kozinski stated that prosecutors “got caught this time but they are going to keep doing it because they have state judges who are willing to look the other way.” Judge Kim Wardlaw further accused California courts of condoning prosecutorial misconduct by upholding verdicts (more here).


Most recently, in Orange County, a situation of prosecutorial misconduct became so apparently egregious that Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals issued an order disqualifying the entire Orange County District Attorney’s office from prosecuting a death penalty case against Scott Dekraai. The order disqualifying all 250 prosecutors came after allegations of prosecutors’ improper use of jailhouse informants, and repeated refusal to produce exculpatory material (more here).

It would seem that in the face of entire departments all over the country demonstrating abject disregard for justice, Americans might become a little more open to the idea that it is less a problem of a “few bad apples” and more a problem of a rotten bunch.


Pre-1919 Unique, Historic Dominion Police Badge Collection (rare Rare Rare)  picture
Pre-1919 Unique, Historic Dominion Police Badge Collection (rare Rare Rare)

Extremely Rare - C. 1880's - 1911 Nypd Police Collection Lot 1 picture
Extremely Rare - C. 1880's - 1911 Nypd Police Collection Lot 1

	Police Comics #2 Nm 9.4 picture
Police Comics #2 Nm 9.4

Extremely Rare - C. 1870's - 1917 Nypd Police Collection Lot 2 picture
Extremely Rare - C. 1870's - 1917 Nypd Police Collection Lot 2

Original 1920's Prohibition Law Enforcement Badge picture
Original 1920's Prohibition Law Enforcement Badge

Georgia Sand

Georgia (George) Sand is an attorney located in sunny California. She enjoys beer, jogging, the beach, music, and chatting with her cats in her spare time.

  • vegas jack

    We need good officers more now than ever. When the system is set up to punish and intimidate the true, brave cop who crosses the blue line to report on a “bad apple”, we know the system is flawed. These good cops quit the force, while their replacements fall in line. The only way for law enforcement to earn back the public’s trust is to do some house cleaning, and if by some miracle they manage to do that, they can not hire bad officers who lost their job from some other police department two states away. We are no longer in the darkness on this issue. Criminal cops must be held accountable.

  • Shawn

    Most often cops have attitudes like t’s, accepting or unable to even see corruption. All they see is their own interests, then complain when people turn on them.

  • JC

    Another whiny bullshit article where the author points fingers at the officers. Go figure.

  • Pw4x3r

    Rightfully so, dumbass.

  • Chris Rickard

    Another JC comment that no one cares about or takes seriously. Are you here on payroll or do you just have no life?

  • JC your my hero

    Another whiny bullshit comment where the author sticks his fingers up his ass. Go figure

  • RaymondbyEllis

    What the essayist left out is that it extends from the OC District Attorney Office to the OCSO. “the Orange County Sheriffs Department has maintained a massive, secret,
    25-year-old computerized record-keeping system called TRED. These TRED documents were full of potentially exculpatory data, but the agency
    officials had systematically refused to turn any of them over, or even acknowledge their very existence, to defense counsel.”

    So the people charged to uphold the law, and who preen over their pride of being the good guys, knowingly acted unlawfully (illegally would be a better word).

  • noname

    I call for applesauce. We could make a lot with all the bad apples. All the joy would be making it though.

  • Tic Toc motherfucker

    Oh look, another apologist who’s throat should be cut. Tic Toc motherfucker