Just How Many Bad Cops are There and What’s Their Impact?

This is a repost of an article originally published on the SouthEast Alabama CopBlock website, which examines what the real impact would be even if the usual statement that only “10%” of cops are actually bad was actually true. It was received via the Cop Block Submissions page.


Police watchdog groups like SouthEast Alabama CopBlock are often given this comment in various posts and articles in defense of cops. So how many are there? Often people will give estimates of what percentage of cops are good. We are usually given numbers like “75 to 85%”, “90%” or “99%” are good. That’s most of them! Great! Right?

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund estimates “There are more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States“. 900,000. Keep that number in your head. Imagine 900,000 nurses in the US (not the actual number I’m sure.) Now imagine 90% of them are good nurses and 10% became nurses in order to use that position to do others harm in some way. Are you comfortable in a nation with 90,000 nurses who want to do their patients’ harm? Nurses who can kill you or a loved one and make it seem routine? What about 90,000 bad school teachers? 90,000 bad Doctors? 90,000 bad Fireman who create fires? Even 90,000 bad pest control guys who come into your house or apartment with your belongings and loved ones?

Can you think of ANY profession, where lives hang in the balance, that you would be comfortable with if there were only 90,000 in the US that are bad and wanted to use their positions to do you and your family harm? Of course not. Not when your family’s lives are directly impacted by whether or not they are good or bad.

Imagine if the ONLY recourse for getting justice from an abusive service professional was by going through the same organization for which they work?

For instance, a nurse kills your mom. Your ONLY option is to file a complaint with the hospital.

First, the media gets a whiff of this and begins digging into your mom’s past. Any and every remotely questionable thing she allegedly may have done since she came into this world is plastered all over the TV and Newspapers. Every photo she ever took with a wine glass in her hand, the time she got in a heated debate with your teacher, the speeding ticket she got in 1980. The media tells everyone “Heavy Drinker with Criminal Past and history of Terrorist Threats to School Employees dead. Family blames decorated Hero Nurse.”

Next the Hospital will get their lawyers to form a focus group from the same population that has been reading and watching the news. This group is entirely selected and instructed by the hospital and it’s attorneys. Your mother is dead and the focus group, the process which would decide if her killer will face justice or not, is entirely run and controlled by the killer’s employers and co-workers. Knowing that finding the killer nurse guilty of wrongdoing would bring on lawsuits against them, how much would you trust the hospital’s lawyers to do the right thing?

Would this process satisfy you? Would you trust this killer’s co-workers and the lawyers of his/her employer to give justice to you and your family? You’d get your own lawyer if you could, but that’s not permitted. You would go and testify before this group, but it’s up to the hospitals lawyers whether or not you’d be allowed to do that.

You might choose a different hospital next time! Except… you have to move to do that. At the new hospital, 10% of the medical staff is bad too, but you have no choice. See where this is going?

Change the word Nurse to Cop, the word Hospital to Government and Focus Group to Grand Jury and you have our current status quo. The obvious difference is that nurses have to have years of formal education before they can begin to practice. Cops can often have half as much training as a hairdresser. (In Alabama, your barber must have 1000 hours of training while the armed cop with the right to shoot you and your family can have as little as 480 hours of training and pass with an overall score of 70)

9,000 bad cops in the US is a massive problem. 90,000 bad cops in the US is total disaster. People are dying. Unarmed people, often in front of witnesses, sometimes even on camera. We as a nation are simply accepting the process by which justice is meant to be be served. We are accepting that 90,000 (or even 9,000) bad cops on our streets with our children is somehow acceptable.

So, this is the state of the nation. What can we do?

Imagine how much it would improve if every man, woman and child who witnessed a police interaction took out their phones and cameras and captured video of it. Someone gets pulled over, 10 people begin filming. A cop approaches a teenager in the mall, 20 people start filming. Every time. Imagine if every cop knew that every time he was in public WE would be there to hold him accountable. Imagine…

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Kelly W. Patterson

a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, who's been very active in local grassroots activism, as well as on a national level during his extensive travels. He's also the founder/main contributor of Nevada CopBlock, Editor/contributor at CopBlock.org and designed the Official CopBlock Press Passes. ____________________________________________________________________________ If you appreciate Kelly's contributions to CopBlock, consider donating to the CopBlock Network and/or visiting the CopBlock Store. ____________________________________________________________________________ Connect with Kelly at these social networks; Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.