I ran across an essay written by a self-described former California police officer that he called “Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop.” It got my attention. I’ve seen numerous other accounts by former police officers over the years– both black and white– who have detailed the intricacies of working as a cop in a system that encourages, approves and perpetuates official misconduct.
I was equally struck by what is a recurring theme in almost every former cop’s essay about life as a “law enforcement officer:” they all say never talk to police– ever, because they are not your friend. These former cops almost universally say that once police officers get through academy training, they become part of an institutional structure whose mission is to protect “the system” and private property, and not the citizens who foot the bill. Having never been a police officer, I couldn’t possibly know what happens inside, but if enough former cops say essentially the same thing, I am justified in raising an eyebrow or two.
Anyway, the essay was written by an Officer A. Cab. It’s probably not his real name. His posted photo is partially blacked out. If you were him, you’d likely take steps to protect yourself, too. If you think “bad” cops only exist in the movies, you’re wrong. Here’s one of several examples: Years ago, in Chicago, I was visiting a friend whose “very well off” mother was home entertaining guests when police stormed in, forced us all into one room, then ransacked the home and stole money and jewelry. So I know that although good cops exist, the bad cops are in reality more numerous than you think.
Anyway, read his intro below, then jump to the full essay by clicking the link.
“I was a police officer for nearly ten years and I was a bastard. We all were.
“This essay has been kicking around in my head for years now and I’ve never felt confident enough to write it. It’s a time in my life I’m ashamed of. It’s a time that I hurt people and, through inaction, allowed others to be hurt. It’s a time that I acted as a violent agent of capitalism and white supremacy. Under the guise of public safety, I personally ruined people’s lives but in so doing, made the public no safer… so did the family members and close friends of mine who also bore the badge alongside me.
“But enough is enough.
“The reforms aren’t working. Incrementalism isn’t happening. Unarmed Black, indigenous, and people of color are being killed by cops in the streets and the police are savagely attacking the people protesting these murders.
“American policing is a thick blue tumor strangling the life from our communities and if you don’t believe it when the poor and the marginalized say it, if you don’t believe it when you see cops across the country shooting journalists with less-lethal bullets and caustic chemicals, maybe you’ll believe it when you hear it straight from the pig’s mouth.”