The “Good Cop” Debate

It is a common fact you hear thrown around that the United States has the largest prison population on the planet. I want to start with this idea in the debate about whether there is such a good thing as “a good cop.” The U.S. has 1,362,028 people in state prisons. 237,000 of those inmates are in there for drug offenses. There is 216,326 people in federal prisons with a little less then half, 94,600 people, incarcerated for drug offences. 721,654 people are in jail, 293,342 people are serving sentences while the other 428,312 people are awaiting trial. There are 70,792 kids in juvenile detention centers with 4,986 serving time for drugs.1 Out of the numbers I have listed, that is 2,264,044 people locked in a cage with 336,586 of those people locked up for drugs (that is not counting those that are awaiting trial for drug offenses). Another figure has the U.S. at 2,193,798 as its prison population.2 No matter what number you use, the U.S. still has more people in prison than China (which of course has an even larger general population). China has 1,584,498 people in prison. Russia is third with 874,161 people in prison.2 The reason I say this is for two reasons. The critical thinker should look at these statistics and laugh at the claim that the United States is “the land of the free.” Secondly, the critical thinker should also note that the laws that are “broken” in the United States, mostly drug laws, are draconian in nature.

Let us move onto another figure that has to do with law enforcement officers and the drug war. How about no knock raids and SWAT operations? From 2011 ro 2012 the ACLU released a report regarding 800 SWAT deployments across 20 different local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.3 The findings should concern people. 62% of these swat raids were for drugs. Just under 80% of these raids were for serving warrants. This means that SWAT teams were not taking down school shooters and terrorists, but people suspected of a crime and yet to be convicted of one. In 36% of these raids, no contraband was found. That means 36% of the time, police kicked down a door to the private property of an individual to find absolutely nothing and leaving the property owner with a headache, a ruined life, or dead. Let us also clarify that the burden of proof in order to get a warrant for a no knock raid is incredibly low (practically nonexistent).

This is all for drugs and the fact that the government doesn’t like that certain people put certain things in their own bodies. The war on drugs is a war on you and a declaration that you do not own yourself. These are laws designed to create money for state governments and law enforcement through unjust civil asset forfeiture laws which require you to prove you knew nothing about drugs in order to get your property back. This changes the burden of proof and gives incentive to law enforcement agencies to pursue only certain kinds of crimes that will be profitable to them. Are they going to raid the suspected drug dealer and seize his house and car or are they going to look for the rape suspect? Since there is a conflict of interest involved here, the answer should be clear. Police are going to give priority to whatever is going to make them money… And that isn’t catching the thief or the rapist.

So what does all this mean for the debate about good and bad cops? We can see that many laws are unjust and corrupt and are designed to create revenue for the state at the expense of non-violent offenders engaged in victimless crimes. Robert Higgs makes this argument about police. Every officer has agreed to enforce these laws many of which are unjust and wicked. Therefore, every cop has agreed to be an enforcer of unjust, wicked and corrupt laws written by unjust and wicked politicians. What does this mean? It means that there is no such thing as a good cop. Plain and simple.

These officers are the ones throwing people in prison for non-violent drug offenses. They are the ones swelling the prison population beyond that of even those supposed barbaric and less free nations. They are the ones kicking down doors, throwing grenades in cribs and burning babies. They are the ones that get away with such behavior.4 Therefore, we can most assuredly put to rest the debate as to whether there are good cops and bad cops. All cops are bad by the nature of the laws they have sworn to enforce.

Now let us not confuse something here because I can see it coming. On a personal level, not all cops are evil. Some sign up because they really do want to protect and serve. But ignorance of the wickedness of your profession is not a good enough excuse to not deem the job immoral. When you make a living by ruining the lives of those around you that are not hurting anyone, you are in a criminal profession.

1. Wagner, Peter. “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie Tweet !function(d,s,id){var Js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js”;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”);.” Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie. Prison Policy Initiative, 12 Mar. 2014. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.

2. “World Prison Populations.” BBC News. BBC, 20 June 2005. Web. 24 Mar. 2015. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/uk/06/prisons/html/nn2page1.stm>.

3. Balko, Radley. “New ACLU Report Takes a Snapshot of Police Militarization in the United States.” Www.washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post, 24 June 2014. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fnews%2Fthe-watch%2Fwp%2F2014%2F06%2F24%2Fnew-aclu-report-takes-a-snapshot-of-police-militarization-in-the-united-states%2F>.

4. McLaughlin, Elliot C. “No Indictments for Georgia SWAT Team That Burned Baby with Stun Grenade.” Www.cnn.com. CNN, 7 Oct. 2014. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. <http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/07/us/georgia-toddler-stun-grenade-no-indictment/>.

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