Line of Doody

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Short post to mention the ‘bad apple’ narrative around the police.

Setting the scene : two very significant precursors of modern police were the cops employed by West Indies merchants on the Thames and slave patrols in Carolina.

There’s a dichotomy within the police between their job as crime-preventors, protectors of the public, and their role as the domestic strong arm of the state and associated (many financial) institutions.

Thing is, the typical media narrative is that of the bad apple. Even if the corruption in a drama like Line of Duty goes right to the top, it’s placed as something exceptional.

The well-documented ‘Firm within a Firm’ of the Met. CID in the 1970’s, criminals effectively in the employment of coppers of all ranks, is a classic case of widespread corruption. Win-win for those involved, so such things are presumably fairly common. But I’d suggest this narrative fails to mention the more sinister purpose of the police, as the government’s militia. A delightful phrase I found on Wikipedia is ‘the monopoly on violence’. Think about it.

I personally experienced bad apples in 1980’s Sheffield (luckily when it came to the cop I was alleged to have assaulted to give his evidence, he was suspended from duty for an unrelated assault incident so I wasn’t locked up for trying to defend a victim of police assault…).
Same period, Thatcher & co. mobilised the cops as their private army to harry the North, shut down the miner’s strikes (and by extension the power of their unions).

I get on well with the (armed!) cops that live near me now. Who knows what it would be like without them, people are generally honest and non-violent, but I’m prepared to accept life is better because they are here. Is rural, which makes a difference. But police proper is about the city (or City), check the etymology. Their main job is historically to maintain the status quo for the aristocracy and the merchants.

What I’m suggesting is that the things of concern aren’t only bad individuals, bad culture (like the institutional racism in the UK police). Looking at those issues, you’re distracted from the more fundamental fact that they are a quasi-militia that serves the state, wherever it prefers to go.

Incidentally –
‘chauvinism’ : named for Nicolas Chauvin, a legendary and excessively patriotic soldier.


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