Why do I keep saying, there is no such thing as a good cop--when we know that not all cops do bad shit? Let me see if I can explain my reasoning, sans rhetoric, when I say: there is no such thing as a good cop.
First, there is the role. Then there is the person. The role is defined in general terms by what kinds of actions it involves. To keep this simple, I want to look at only one aspect: what is permissible within the role. The persons who step into the role are not identical with it, and certainly aren't reducible to it—as persons; but while they occupy that role—the role of ‘cop,’ their moral or ethical character—their ‘goodness’ or ‘badness,’ is. So when I say, there are no good cops, I’m speaking about a person in that role, as ‘cop.’ Not what they are outside of it, or in addition to it.
As the role, ‘cop,’ includes all those things permissible in the performance of that role, we have to take the unpleasant reality, that this includes killing unarmed men and women who have committed no crime, done no wrong according to the law. We know this to be true, because cops who kill unarmed men and women who have done no wrong according to the law, are, in fact, given permission to do this, post facto, if not in advance, in that they receive no punishment, experience no official sanction or restriction of their duties, once the PR phase and “investigation’ has been completed. If by chance, disciplinary measures are taken, their unions will correct the official command, reminding the command, and us, that killing unarmed men and women who have done no wrong according to the law, is, in fact, permissible.
There is no contesting this. These are facts, confirmed again and again in full view of everyone who refuses to avert their eyes. As long as cops, who kill unarmed men and women who have done no wrong under the law, are excused, confirming that this is, in fact, permissible for anyone occupying the role of 'cop,' it will be true, that there is no such thing as a good cop. That not all cops kill unarmed mean and women who have done no wrong according to the law, is no more relevant than pointing out that not all cops stand on corners directing traffic. What matters, is whether these actions fall (standing on a corner directing traffic, killing unarmed men and women who have done no wrong according to the law) under the class of permissible actions for the role we’re discussing, namely, being a cop, and given the history we have before us, it is clear that killing unarmed men and women who have done no wrong under the law, falls as much under the class of permissible actions as standing on corners directing traffic, or appending actual criminals.
Of course, the weak part of this lies in how we define what is good, or bad. Clearly, if you believe killing unarmed men and women who have done no wrong according to the law, is a good thing, it would not be true to say: there is no such thing as a good cop. More significant—is the problematic of the what that role (being a cop) plays in a larger context. Here there’s more room for reasonable disagreement.
I’m not going to write a book here, so I’ll condense this to the max. If you concede that one of the primary functions of the role of 'cop' (remember, that means everything included as permissible—even if individual cops are doing very different things)—is to protect by whatever means, the status quo of power, and the status quo of power happens to be hell bent on destroying human life on the planet… well (forgive this rhetorical lapse)… there is no way that role, the role: ‘cop,’ is a good thing.
There is no such thing as a good cop