The 8 Arguments Put Forth by Defenders of Bad Cops and Your Complete Toolbox to Dismantle Each

One of the goals of this blog is to arm its readers with facts and information for the water-cooler wars—or to more accurately reflect our times, the Facebook wars. This is important because, as you may have noticed, it is a lot easier to repeat lies and ridiculous arguments than it is to thoughtfully debunk them.

This phenomenon has never been as clearly on display as it has been over the past several weeks with the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner all over the news. A person could easily spend his or her entire day trying to debunk all of the insane arguments out there supporting the police in their actions (trust me, I know!).

The good thing about discussing police violence with unquestioning supporters of every police officer is that these people repeat the same eight arguments over and over again. This makes anticipating and putting together a response much simpler. The intent of this article is to provide you with a resource. Say for example your crazy uncle—who only sees brown people when he watches “Cops”—comes at you on Facebook with one his eight predictable and ridiculous arguments. You no longer have to spend 15 minutes articulating the perfect response. Instead, feel free to come back here, cut-and-paste the appropriate response, and send it off. Or if you are really short on time and/or your uncle is shotgunning all eight of his arguments at you, you can simply send him the link to this article. And in case you wish to avoid disrupting any relationships, I have attempted, not without some difficulty, to keep my counter-arguments snark-free.

Without further ado, here are the ridiculous and easily debunked arguments put forth by people who wish to celebrate the deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of bad police officers:

Silly Argument #1: Look, stop bashing cops. Not all cops are bad.

I agree. Not all cops are bad. In fact, I think we can agree most cops are quite good. With that said, the fact that we agree most cops are good does not mean we should ignore the bad cops we all know are out there. And that is not a slight on law enforcement. Every profession is going to attract its fair share of people unfit for the profession. One of the greatest harms committed by bad cops is that they make the good cops look bad and cast suspicion on the entire profession. Can’t we agree that everyone is helped (society as well as the good cops) when we put a system in place that can retrain or fire individuals who are in law enforcement but should not be? Instead, our current system allows bad cops to hide behind good cops, and everyone pays the price…except for the bad cops. That is not okay, and criticizing that system should not be mistaken for criticizing “all cops” or being ungrateful for all of the good that police do.

Silly Argument #2: You forget about all the good that police do. Did you hear about Officer Jones who used his own money to buy an impoverished mother a car seat for her child?

This is essentially the same argument as “Silly Argument #1.” You can use the same response provided above.

Silly Argument #3: I can’t feel sorry for someone who gets killed by police when breaking the law. If you don’t want to get shot, don’t break the law.

Police are allowed to use deadly force under two sets of circumstances: (1) when a person is presenting an imminent threat to the life of others, or (2) if a person is evading arrest and the officer has a reasonable belief that the person committed a violent felony, such as rape or murder. In other words, a police officer cannot use deadly force against a person for stealing, resisting arrest, or jaywalking (even if that means the perpetrator gets away).

Police are not judge, jury, and executioner. Our society has intentionally separated these roles so that no one person has too much power. It also ensures (as much as it can be ensured) we kill the right people for the right reasons.

Police who kill in non-life threatening situations also violated the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the 8th Amendment bans the government from performing “cruel and unusual punishments.” I think we can all agree that killing someone for stealing a cigar or selling untaxed cigarettes is “cruel and unusual.”

Further, our society is largely one of second chances. We have all likely committed crimes, some more serious than others, for which we may feel some remorse. Aren’t we glad no one killed us and instead gave us an opportunity to better ourselves?

Silly Argument #4: These “thugs” had it coming. You punch a cop, you can expect to get shot.

I would suggest using a word other than “thug.” Many people feel this word has become code for n*****. With that said, no one should expect to get killed by a police officer unless that person is threatening the life of another person. A police officer cannot even punch someone who punches him unless he needs to do so to effectuate an arrest. Police officers are not permitted to exact revenge upon a suspect—no matter how big of a douchebag the suspect proves himself to be, or how much he deserves to be punched. While the reptilian part of our brain may think it is unfair that an officer cannot automatically hit back after being hit, that is the law. We expect our officers to hold themselves to a higher standard than criminals hold themselves. That is part of why being a police officer is a difficult job, and why we offer so much praise onto the good cops who operate within the law.

Silly Argument #5: Why can’t libtards not pull the race card? Cops shot a white dude last week in Scranton and there weren’t any marches or rioting.

This argument pretends that the protests in Ferguson were just about Michael Brown and the protests in New York are just about Eric Garner. That is wrong. There is an undeniable difference in how police treat African-Americans and everyone else—particularly white people. In New York City where stop-and-frisk is practiced (and where nothing is found 90% of the time), your chances of being stopped are 10 times greater if you are African-American rather than white. If you are a black, male teenager in the United States, your chances of being shot and killed by police are 21 times greater than if you were a white, male teenager. These numbers (and the many more out there) cannot be explained away by population numbers or higher crime rates in the black community. For those willing to look, they will find that dealing with police in this country is much different for black people than white people. This is perhaps best illustrated by “the talk”—something many white people have no idea even exists. People who discuss race when talking about Eric Garner and Michael Brown are not “playing the race card.” They are acknowledging reality. And these many protests (and the relatively few acts of rioting) are not so much about Eric Garner or Michael Brown as they are an out-of-control system that presents a clear-and-present danger to all African-Americans.

I know it is anecdotal, but have you seen the video of the black man stopped because he was walking with his hands in his pocket when it was snowing? The officer told the man, “You are making people nervous [because your hands are in your pockets]” and he had to follow-up because “We do have a lot of robberies.” That is crazy, and I don’t think that would have ever happened to me or any other white person.

Silly Argument #6: No one talks about all the police who are killed on the job. What about that? I don’t see any marches for them.

This is a bit of a red herring. The argument seems to say that because of one tragedy, we cannot acknowledge another tragedy. That is absurd. But let’s examine the content of this argument.

Policing is certainly more dangerous than being an accountant, but it is 10 times safer than being a logger and generally much safer than many believe. Of the 900,000 to 1,000,000 law enforcement officers in this country in 2013, we tragically lost 111. Most of those deaths were due to accidents, and it looks like 33 were actually murdered in the line of duty. When that occurs, there is a huge public mourning and officers show up in huge numbers.

Cop Blog Pic - 1 of 2

And this public outcry is not limited to just the officers. When a police dog is killed in the line of duty, the outpouring is also enormous.

Cop Blog Pic - 2 of 2

Once the funerals are over, the people who kill police officers face a future no one would want. They will very likely be sentenced to life in prison or death. And those who kill a police dog don’t fare much better. In Florida, a 17-year old was sentenced to 23 years in jail for shooting a retired police dog. You read that right.

So perhaps the reason you do not see protests and marches for these fallen officers (and their pets) is that justice has been done. What is there to protest? We work our hardest to keep our officers safe, and when injury befalls them, we go to great lengths to honor them, we erect statues and plaques in their honor, and we make those responsible for their deaths pay dearly.

It is very different for civilians killed by police. While 33 police are murdered a year, police have averaged at least 400 civilian kills a year since 2008. Of significant note, the exact number of people killed by police is unknown because police do not track and/or release those numbers to the public. Of the hundreds of people police kill a year, there are almost no indictments and even fewer convictions. One county in Texas did a study of this. Over the past five years, district attorneys had turned 25 cases over to the grand jury for indictments for use of deadly force by police. Only one officer was indicted, and in that case he was only indicted for manslaughter (it has not yet gone to trial). That 4% indictment rate of police officers is in stark contrast to the 99% indictment rate of non-police officers.

Martin Luther King’s statement of, “A riot is the language of the unheard,” kind of explains why we see people so upset over the killing of black teenagers, but not white cops. While both are tragedies, only one of these tragedies receives justice.

Silly Argument #7: Just wait until you need a cop. Then you will be singing another tune.

Why would I sing another tune? Criticizing bad police officers and a broken system that protects bad police officers in no way means I do not understand the value of having a law enforcement system. Every society has to have individuals enforcing the laws. I understand that and have no qualms admitting I will probably need those people at some point in my life. Understanding, appreciating, and needing police does not mean I need to give police the power to do anything they want.

Silly Argument #8: Are you a cop? Are you a child, parent, or spouse of a cop? No? Then your opinion does not matter because you have no idea what police go through.

By this logic, only police officers and former police officers get to have any input as to what is appropriate police behavior. It also leads to the conclusion that only police officers may set rules or guidelines for police officers. I am of the view that “self-regulation” is an oxy-moron as I have yet to see it work in any field.

The argument that non-police lack the insight to reach worthwhile conclusions ignores the fact that every person comes to this issue with particular insights and unavoidable biases. For instance, a 19-year old black male in St. Louis, Missouri will probably have a very different perspective on police than a 75-year old white woman living in Manchester, New Hampshire. While both person’s opinion will have a certain amount of bias and limitations, each person’s views deserves to be heard and considered.

There is no denying that police have an invaluable perspective on police issues that most everyone else lacks, but they also have an unavoidable and strong bias. And this is to be expected. Anyone would experience internal strife if their profession or colleagues were criticized; however, like the young man in St. Louis and the old lady in New Hampshire, the opinions of police matter. They are just not the only ones that matter.

* * *

So that basically covers all of the bases you will need covered if you enter a discussion with someone who thinks all police officers are above reproach, and that we may only say good things about every police officer. Best of luck at those water coolers, and always feel free to come back here for reinforcements.

– Dylan


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