Debunking the Myth of the Hero Cop

November 24th, 2013   Submitted by Darryl W Perry

HeroCopIn a recent article at The Independent Political Report, James Gray perpetuates the fairy-tale of the police as heroes to be looked up to. He writes, “One of the most noble public servant positions in our society is a police officer. These men and women often have difficult jobs, and frequently do not get the credit and appreciation they deserve.” If police were these heroes, then stories of botched drug raids would not be a standard news story. People would be outraged every time they heard about an officer killing a family pet, or an innocent human being, because it would be so unusual. Instead, these stories are routine, because the image of police as heroic public servants is a myth.

I would like to first state that Judge Gray does give one good piece of advice for anyone who is ever stopped by police, “keep your hands in plain sight.” This should be done for your own safety, because the police often overreact when they are startled. I have first-hand experience in this. The only time I have ever had a gun drawn on me, it was from a police officer who was responding to a suspected robbery, but he was at the wrong house. If I had made any sudden movements I would likely have lost my life. On another occasion an officer stopped me for a seat belt violation, and when he approached my vehicle he had his hand on his weapon. I put my hands on the wheel for my own safety, because you never know what behavior to expect, although police tend to be on their best behavior when they know they’re being filmed.

It was recently reported that police have killed over 5,000 Americans since September 11, 2001, almost as many US soldiers that have been killed occupying Iraq. According to the CATO Institute’s National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, in 2010 there were 4,861 unique reports of police misconduct involving 6,613 sworn officers and 6,826 alleged victims.

In a rare case of officer accountability, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Randall Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter after firing his weapon “several times” at Jonathan Ferrell, who was running to the police for help after wrecking his vehicle. The Ferrell family may find justice, but the majority of aggrieved families aren’t so lucky. In May 2010, seven year old Aiyana Jones was killed by a SWAT team as she slept on her couch at 3am. Her killers burst into the wrong apartment, but no charges were filed. Indianapolis Police Officer David Bisard was on duty, driving a Metro Police cruiser when he plowed into a group of four riders on three motorcycles stopped at a red light – one rider was killed & two others critically injured. Bisard was found to be intoxicated, though no charges were filed because “the blood test had been mishandled and no other evidence supported the DUI charge.” [Editor’s note: Correction, after three years Bisard did finally get convicted and sentenced to prison. Source]There are also countless stories of women being sexually assaulted by police officers, and countless other stories of sexual assault that are never reported. Do these sound like the actions of noble heroes?

People will often claim “those are just a few bad apples.” If that were the case, then why don’t the “good cops” who are supposedly the super-majority, ever do anything about these “bad apples”?

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19 Responses to “Debunking the Myth of the Hero Cop”

  1. VanmindNo Gravatar says:

    They play the role of those stooges from the movie Braveheart who stood alongside Longshanks with pikes, ready to charge the freedom-loving Scots.

    After they become those Irish mercenaries who abandoned Longshanks to join up with the Scots, then I’ll start using the “hero” word.

    I can hear them now, though, amid their mouth-breathing: “I’m just too far in debt as it is to stop helping the crime syndicate, so my only option is to threaten anyone who exposes the crime syndicate.” They demonstrate best exactly what it takes to fail at life.


    Aside: such behavior is typical among bureaucrats. I know plenty of teachers who also pretend to be doing “noble” things. They all learn from those who learned from those who claimed that there most certainly is too such a thing as a noble lie.

    Like the posthumous Hendrix album says, it’s the first rays of the new rising sun. All will learn to love their place, even if it takes scaling Mount Soma to help them get there.

    • Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout
      out from Dallas Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic job!

  2. Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

    The myth is quickly being eroded, thanks to the internet.

  3. Just wanted to know if we are allowed to Tweet this link?
    I am an anarcho capitalist involved with the Libertarian party in Maryland.I wanted to ask you before doing so.



  4. Sam SpadeNo Gravatar says:

    The Policeman Is Not Your Friend

    Monopoly “justice” is never unbiased.

    When that group of psychopaths who form what we know of as “the state”

    • Make the laws,

    • Enforce the laws,

    • Prosecute the laws,

    • Hire the prosecutors,

    • License the “defense” attorneys,

    • Pay the “judges”,

    • Build the jails,

    • Contract jails out to private entities,

    • Employ and pay the wardens,

    • Employ and pay the guards,

    • Employ and pay the parole officers,

    Well, that sort of monopoly “justice” is not an unbiased system.

    It is abject tyranny.

    Thanks, Daily Bell: Jailed-for-Missing-School

  5. don duncanNo Gravatar says:

    From silent film till today, cops are often portrayed as corrupt/incompetent by nature. Is this an undeserved stereotype or telling it like it is? Do people picket the theaters in protest? Everything else is protested, but not this. Why? I suggest the cops have decided not to protest partly out of guilt and partly out of fear. They don’t want to expand the debate. They wisely chose to ignore the negative portrayal and hope it leads nowhere. It works. Movies have not stopped war or police brutality. The illusion of the state as a protector continues despite the attempt by artists to expose it for hundreds of years, possibly thousands. It is difficult to know because rulers destroy the truth. It is their enemy.

    At 71 I can attest to a lifetime of aversion to police based on experience. Is the brutality worse now, or is it more exposed due to the ‘net? Maybe both.

    Would it be better to move out of heavily populated areas to places where there is less police presence? Probably. But that is a personal choice, just as moving to another country where there is less govt. Both enhance freedom. It is a matter of risk assessment versus infrastructure convenience.

  6. Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

    Actually police do a very good job for the most part. It is just that that job is notwhat most people think it is. Police and the military exist primarily to protect the power and perqs of athe ruling elite. They are quite good at that. Intimidation is a big part of the police state. Every sane person is afraid of cops to some degree for they have athe power to kill you and get away with it. They steal all of our lives and liberty in the name of secuity. It is another reason to keep unregistered weapons for when they do come to disarm us.

  7. Kelly NormanNo Gravatar says:

    Where I live, stories about cops killing dogs and babies brings a reaction of shock and anger, not acquiescence, and I’m surprised to here its different elsewhere (I’ve got the ashes of Detroit near my home, and the Peoples Republic of Ann Arbor at work to clarify “where I live”). I’ll concede that SWAT teams are usually overkill, but the regular cops driving their beat or a deputy responding to a call are mostly courteous and able to calm down a crisis situation just by talking empathicly to the people involved.

    The reason we need to be on guard when interacting with cops is that they take orders from the state, not because they as individuals are more prone to be jerks than the rest of us. And because armed jerks are more dangerous to ourselves! Of course cops aren’t heroes, but neither are their detractors.

    • don duncanNo Gravatar says:

      I’ve never heard a “detractor” claim to be a hero. Nor does it take a hero to debunk the hero myth.

      We need to fear cops not just because they are armed, but because they carry a moral blank check, more so every decade. They are considered innocent until proven guilty, and even then often defended as having a very tough, dangerous job, and therefore deserving of special exemption from justice. Their pay is high and their accountability low to non existent, e.g., they get away with assault, insult, battery, rape, torture, and murder, daily. If a good cop tries to report a bad cop, the good cop suffers, often becoming an outcast. This “cop culture” has been exposed in movies and books, with no change. If this is not your experience perhaps you should consider your neighborhood might be a rare exception. The bigger the city, the more the police brutality.

  8. Kelly NormanNo Gravatar says:

    Crud. I had this well reasoned reply and it disappeared.

    As I explained, I don’t just have “a” neighborhood. Detroit of course is in trouble and has only a handful of cops and a lot of actual crime; Ann Arbor is wealthy, hoity-toity and in looove with womb to tomb state services so they have a lot of cops despite needing them a lot less. And I’m not isolated…I get a couple main stream news reports during the day. And I read blog after blog & get about a dozen podcasts on anarchy/libertarianism. And I just am not convinced that violent crime is running rampant in police forces any more than it does among teachers, university ombudsmen, firefighters, doctors or any other profession we create a mythos of “heroism” around.

    Corruption, drug running…sure, I find that believable. And I do believe some cops are thugs and violent criminals. I just have not been convinced all or even most of them are.

    I will say that a lot of cops I talk to (in the ER where I work, mostly, ) espouse a lot of libertarian ideas…pro second amendment, irritated at the “war in drugs” and how much unnecessary work it causes, etc).

    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

      Talk is cheap. Cop’s have the job of denying you and me our freedoms. I do not care what words they say. So long as they remain a cop they are the hired thugs of our common enemy the state. Sure a cop may be a decent guy out of uniform, but on the job he is always your enemy, soft spoken or not. You forget this at your own peril.

    • don duncanNo Gravatar says:

      I considered being a cop in my early twenties. I was running around with one. One night we came out of a bar and he was stopped in the parking lot by a girl who wanted to have sex with him. We said good-by and he walked off with her. He told me he saw someone who he believed to be undercover nearby and became frightened he was being set up when the girl produced a joint. He arrested her. It turned out he was wrong. He was an outcast in that area since.

      It make me think. I did no illegal drugs, but believed the drug laws to be both immoral and unconstitutional. I could not work with people who expected me to harm innocent non-violent citizens. This was extremely repugnant to me. I dropped the idea of being a cop.

      You say the cops are “irritated” by the unnecessary work. Imagine how their victims feel sitting in jail for years “unnecessarily” because they were exercising their right to “life, liberty, happiness”.

  9. MikhailNo Gravatar says:

    Bisard was sentenced to 16 years. Top notch fact checking around here eh?