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I’m a Former Cop. This is Not Just a Few Bad Apples.

Updated: Feb 22

These are just some of the citizens the police have murdered:
  • Tyre Nichols (2023)

  • Daunte Wright (2021)

  • Fanta Bility (2021)

  • George Floyd (2020)

  • Breonna Taylor (2020)

  • Andre Hill (2020)

  • Justine Ruszczyk Damond (2017)

  • Jordan Edwards (2017)

  • Philando Castile (2016)

  • Walter Scott (2015)

  • Freddie Gray (2015)

  • Eric Garner (2014)

  • Michael Brown (2014)

  • Laquan McDonald (2014)

  • Tamir Rice (2014)

  • And hundreds more!

What is so shocking is that the police often committed these murders in full view of the public, sometimes in broad daylight, because the cops saw nothing wrong with their actions. And as though reading from a prewritten script, you will hear some politicians and Americans begin regurgitating the same tired cliché: “Don’t blame all police officers for the actions of a few bad apples.”


The problem is . . .


this is not just a few bad apples. It is a chronic, systemic, and widespread problem among police agencies, big and small, where their foremost priority is survival . . . but not against armed assailants or murderers. No, the most prevalent threat to every cop is a perceived attack on their fragile egos.

The Myth of a Few Bad Apples

I'm a former police officer and a former Baptist minister. My ex-wife is still a police officer and a former world missionary to Africa and South America. I can tell you that the problem we are experiencing in law enforcement is not the result of a few bad apples.


As a devout missionary and later a 911 dispatcher, my ex-wife was a beautiful, empathetic, and compassionate woman. There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do to support someone in need. She believed in keeping the family unit together and not abandoning people when they were at their most vulnerable. She was also a strong social justice advocate, which is why I encouraged her to pursue a career in law enforcement to begin with. I believed she was the kind of person who could change policing culture for the better. But that’s not actually what happens to “good” people when they become cops. The training and culture of law enforcement often turn otherwise “good” people into pragmatic sociopaths who lack any and all empathy for other human beings.


And that’s the thing the general public doesn't realize about law enforcement culture. It is all-consuming. Being a cop becomes your very identity, and it supersedes everything that used to be important to you. Your family, your moral principles, and your sense of right and wrong all take a backseat to the exhilarating world of policing. Your fellow cops end up becoming your real family. Supporting and protecting your fellow cops becomes your primary goal in life. And the use of “might” often equates to what is “right” as you do whatever is needed to get the job done quickly and safely. That is, get the job done safely for you and your fellow officers.


To hell with everyone else.


Law enforcement trains you to become a bully (if you weren't one already) and to assert your dominance over everyone in every situation. Police culture mandates

rigid support of fellow officers, which facilitates a cultural distinction between cops and citizens They are trained to prioritize their own safety and the safety of their colleagues far above anything else, with the added indoctrination to constantly expect danger and violence from every encounter with the public. This combination of cultural hierarchy and relentless fear for "officer safety" results in a warped psychological perspective that directly clashes with every department's stated value of showing respect, impartiality, restraint, fairness, and tolerance toward citizens. Officers cannot remain civil and reverential of constitutional rights if they genuinely believe everyone is plotting to kill them.


This is why even black police officers engage in discriminatory and aggressive behavior toward the public. For law enforcement, there is no black, brown, or white. There is only blue and non-blue, a mantra that is drilled into every cadet's head during training.



And that's also why I ended up losing my wife to a sociopathic culture. I lost her to the brutalizing narrative that “blue lives matter . . . and to hell with everyone else, including your own family.” What I saw happen with my ex-wife is exactly what spouses have reported about their loved ones for generations. My ex-wife trained herself to lie habitually (to both herself and to others), to distort reality so she was always in the right, and to eliminate all empathy and guilt for the pain she inflicted on other human beings. She quickly learned how to behave deplorably and then rationalize her behavior with ad hoc justifications and expedient lies. Being a cop taught her how to do wrong . . . and how to get away with it.


Yes, I know. I’m sure you have a family member or a friend who is in law enforcement, and they’re one of the “good ones,” right? I thought the same thing about the people in my life. But how sure are you that they’re not actually contributing to a culture of contempt for the pugblic? There is no doubt that Officer Derek Chauvin was considered one of the "good guys" by his friends and family, as well . . . until he was caught on video murdering George Floyd. You see, that’s a common feature among sociopaths. They put on a good front and pretend to be decent human beings. But most cops only have other cops as friends, and gang members will always bolster each other's "good guy" image.


This is also why almost 100% of all police officers end up divorcing their spouses and then, for many, remarrying another cop. They stop caring for anyone who isn't one of them, and they lose all ability to maintain a healthy relationship with those outside of law enforcement. They become authoritarian, selfish, and aggressive sociopaths, who are quite literally trained to eradicate empathy from their hearts. A cop is trained to view themselves as always in charge, always right, and always justified in hurting others . . . even their own spouses.


So I ask you: How well do you really know your cop buddy?

It is this lack of empathy that is the real problem in American policing.

I became a police officer two weeks after I graduated from college, and I served both in street patrol and corrections at a time when people did not have smartphones or handheld video-recording devices. And law enforcement certainly did not wear body cameras at that time. Having worked at a large police department, what I witnessed from day one of the police academy to my last day on patrol was shocking. I personally witnessed the policing culture dehumanize and vilify the public. What we keep seeing caught on body camera footage is nothing new. I witnessed it every week on the job. The racism, the violence, and the belligerent tactics within law enforcement are not becoming worse; they’re just now being caught on tape.


What we've seen with people like George Floyd and Tyre Nichols is not a fluke, and that’s because the police are skilled at being desensitized and apathetic to your suffering. The police literally do not care about you, and they do not exist to "protect and serve."



Sure, the police are required to take courses in victim advocacy, and many have training in negotiations or de-escalation tactics. Each police department and sheriff’s office loves to remind its personnel, “Treat the public the same way you would want your mother to be treated.” But no cop ever takes these trite sayings seriously. How could they? The public is not a friend or family member. Cops are given far more exposure to the very skills needed for murdering another human being (i.e., countless hours of firearms training) than they are in showing (and actually feeling) empathy for others.


What we have is a police culture that suppresses genuine compassion for other human beings. And this makes sense to an extent; the police can’t be too concerned with the feelings of criminals when taking them into custody. The problem is that both their training and operating procedures require them to activate sociopathic traits while on the job, such as overstepping social boundaries, aggressive behavior, quelling feelings of guilt or remorse, and compulsive deception.


Yes, make no mistake about it: the police are trained and encouraged to lie to the public on a regular basis. The people you think are "good guys" at church on Sunday morning likely turn into pragmatic sociopaths when they put on a police badge.


What we learned from the now (in)famous Stanford Prison Experiment is that when placed in a position of power and authority over others, and in an environment where leadership (be it corporals, sergeants, commanders, or chiefs of police) look down on segments of our society, then “good” people will quickly turn antisocial and sociopathic. They develop an automatic us-versus-them mentality that creates an adversarial divide with everyone they encounter, including crime victims. Whether it's from within a patrol car or outside a jail cell, law enforcement instinctively falls into the psychological trap of believing they are at war with the very people under their care.

  • Polarization and Mistrust: Officers become suspicious of community members, often assuming hostile intent in situations where none exists.

  • Resistance to Accountability: Officers entrenched in an "us-vs-them" mindset resist external oversight and criticism. They perceive any scrutiny or calls for reform as attacks on their core identity as police officers, leading to a defensive stance against accountability measures.

  • Escalation of Conflicts: The mentality of being constantly under threat often causes officers to react defensively, escalating minor situations into confrontations unnecessarily. This then leads to the use of excessive force or other aggressive tactics, damaging community relations and exacerbating tensions.

  • Groupthink and Silence: The "us-vs-them" mentality creates a strong group cohesion among law enforcement, leading to "groupthink," a phenomenon where dissenting opinions or questioning the group's actions are discouraged. This groupthink contributes to a code of silence or the "blue wall of silence," where officers protect one another even in cases of misconduct, hindering internal accountability.


And this is a problem that we in the public help to promote. We as a society immediately associate law enforcement with being heroes who serve and protect. But most cops are not thinking this way, and most know better than to think of themselves as heroes. They are an over-militarized street gang.

Simply putting on a uniform with an American flag or a badge does not make you a hero. But it does potentially make you a ticking time bomb. And when society engages in uncritical hero-worship, those same "heroes" begin to think they can act with impunity.

I personally watched other officers inflict unnecessary pain and torture on people just because they viewed them as the enemy. Usually, these moments of “street justice” go unnoticed because they’re done under the cloak of other activities. They put the handcuffs on a little too tight. They twist people's wrists the wrong way as they walk them to the patrol car. They jab people with their elbows as they’re buckling them in. They slam the car door on people’s legs. Or, as former President Trump had encouraged, they slam people’s heads into the car while placing them in the backseat.

If the police are caught doing these things, then they simply describe their tactics as mere “pain compliance” or some other nonsense. I was repeatedly told by fellow officers that it doesn’t matter what you do on the street; it’s how you articulate it in your police report. As long as you can justify your actions as necessary for “officer safety," then your actions will be considered legitimate and lawful. What I quickly learned was that many police officers were simply bullies and crooks who would have been arrested long ago had it not been for wearing a badge. The result is a victimized citizenry who have been abused by thugs with little oversight and even less discipline.

Publicly-Funded Street Gangs

When examining the behavior and actions of law enforcement, it becomes apparent that certain striking similarities exist between the conduct of many cops and that of street gangs, drawing alarming comparisons to criminal organizations:

  • In street gangs and mafia syndicates, loyalty to the group is of utmost importance, and disobedience can lead to severe consequences. Similarly, within law enforcement, the blue wall of silence and the reluctance to report misconduct can foster a culture of loyalty above accountability. This "code of silence" protects officers even when they engage in inappropriate behavior, reflecting a mentality similar to that found in criminal organizations.

  • Street gangs are notorious for their use of force and violence to exert control and establish dominance. While law enforcement is meant to uphold the law and maintain public safety, most cops get excited by the adrenaline rush associated with using physical force.

  • It is so well-known that law enforcement has continually been involved in corruption and abuse of power since its very inception that it's literally a movie trope. Bribery, extortion, planting evidence, cover-ups, and protection rackets are common tools for maintaining their social supremacy over others.



Most cops do not think of themselves as public servants; they’re simply (and selfishly) thinking only of themselves and their fellow cops. They are impulsive, and they are trained to make snap judgments wherever they go. They have a “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality because they prioritize "making it home safely" over obeying the law. And scariest of all, they are explicitly trained to rationalize their hasty decisions. They will purposely distort their recollections of events, change narratives, adjust or manipulate evidence, gaslight victims, and distort perceptions . . . all for the sake of making themselves look good to a jury. They do this at home and on the job.


Don't believe me?

Just ask former spouses of cops who've had to endure living with them.




Still don’t believe me?

See if you can find a single police report that identifies officers doing something wrong or inappropriate, as well as a police report where the accused are portrayed as normal human beings. You won't find any. Police reports often read like a low-budget superhero flick where the perpetrator is obviously a horrible movie villain who needs immediate suppression while heroic cops swoop in to save the day. Indeed, that's the point of a police report: it is meant to elevate the officer's “good guy” status while demonizing the people being charged with a crime.


It's all to put on a good show for a potential judge and jury so no one questions them.


Just look at the Facebook post below from the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office in Colorado. On January 31, 2021, Sheriff's deputies responded to a woman having a mental health crisis, eventually taking her into custody. The Sheriff's Office had no problem blasting this woman's unedited face across social media as a way of stigmatizing her publicly (her face was blurred by media outlets). What's worse, they used the hashtag "good guys win" to solidify their demonization of a human being having a mental health crisis. This atrocious behavior is not unique. And it wasn't until the advent of body cameras that the public finally started to see the excessively hostile conversational tactics and confrontational behavior of cops on the street.


I routinely watched officers falsify police reports by embellishing a person's supposed "aggressive" or "criminal" activity, minimizing the officer's culpability in escalating the situation, or flat-out altering a fellow officer's supplemental report to ensure their stories matched up. This practice of lying is so well-known that it is actually termed "testilying" where the police provide substantive misstatements of fact in order to justify their actions and make others look like the "bad guy."



Just about every ex-spouse of a cop has experienced the habitual lying and distortion of facts so that they come out of every argument looking innocent and faultless. It becomes so second nature to misrepresent past statements and past conflicts that spouses are often heartbroken as they watch their loved ones become increasingly duplicitous and unscrupulous within their own family. This is also why adultery is so pervasive within law enforcement. They have no problem lying to the public, and they certainly have no scruples lying to their own spouses.


Make no mistake: No one knows how to game the system better than a cop, and the public simply cannot trust them to tell the truth. What this transforms into is a heavily-funded, paramilitary group with authoritarian tendencies.

The Sheepdog Mythos

The police are trained not to view the public as human beings; they are trained to view the public as a potential threat to themselves and to others. One of the most common narratives circulating law enforcement is the belief that the world is divided into three groups:

  1. Sheep

  2. Wolves

  3. And Sheepdogs

The story goes that the world is divided into good guys and bad guys. The sheep go about their business just trying to live their lives, but wolves come in and prey on the sheep. Thus, the world needs sheepdogs to keep wolves at bay and to prevent the sheep from getting out of line.


The thing is: Sheepdogs have more in common with wolves than they do with the sheep they’re supposed to be protecting. Thus, every sheepdog knows that it must often growl and even bite the sheep in order to protect them from the wolves (and from each other). This horrendous mentality can be seen in countless video footage across America, like when Officer John Sellew of the Northampton Police Department, who (within five minutes of performing a traffic stop for a minor infraction) violently dragged and beat a 60-year-old (5-foot, 120-pound) woman who did not immediately comply with his aggressive yelling at her.




Of course, in their worldview, we are the sheep who need protection and help from the big bad wolves. But stop and think about what is being said here: Cops view us humans as mindless sheep, as idiots who need their help and guidance. And those same cops believe it is okay to growl and bite in order to protect us. The irony is that these self-righteous thugs typically don't have more than a high school education or a bachelor's degree at best. Yet, they somehow think they're smarter than the rest of us.



They don't like to be reminded that we’re not all sheep, and we’re definitely not all wolves. What these officers forget is that sheepdogs are also just dumb animals who have been conditioned to divide everything into a naive, black-and-white world without the complexity and nuance needed for exercising proper judgment. And sadly, police training does not usually come with a course in critical thinking or the philosophy of ethics, so they'll never really escape their delusional thinking.

Complete Lack of Training

While police training requirements vary widely, most officers receive only minimal training compared to professionals in other fields. And yet, local and federal governments wield law enforcement as their personal attack dogs by equipping officers with military-grade weapons to quell civil disobedience.


Think about this: there has been a substantial increase in killings despite state and local governments spending roughly $115 billion dollars on police every year, most of it coming from taxpayer money. In order to become a police officer, cadets receive an absurdly low number of hours of training. For comparison:

​Occupation

Avg. No. of Hours for Qualification

Law Enforcement

650

Barber

1,500

Cosmetologist

3,000

Plumber

3,500

Lawyer

4,725

Lawyers spend thousands of hours training to understand and interpret the law, but the people who drive tanks, carry AR-15s, and can end a person's life for no other reason than "they feared for their life" have less training than a hairstylist. These gun-carrying cops often have nothing more than a high school diploma as a prerequisite for enforcing the law, and there exists no national board of ethics or oversight to control their impulsive behavior. But we're the idiots, and we have to take orders from them? That seems a bit . . . dangerous, don't you think?


Remember: Sheepdogs are just as mindless as sheep and just as vicious as wolves. Indeed, as any sheep farmer will tell you, sheepdogs routinely become overzealous and maim or kill the sheep under their care. And like all predators, sheepdogs are prone to regressing back to their primitive wolf-like state, meaning those same “good guy” cops can and do exhibit the same marauding violence as wolves. Only now, these dumb sheepdogs have body armor, guns, and tanks. What this simply means is that cops often think of themselves as a superior class within society who know the true state of reality and are in a position to differentiate wolves from sheep.



In their brainwashed heads, cops believe they are eternally the good guys who are allowed to act like wolves in certain situations because they supposedly know better than the rest of us. They are always right, and everyone else is always wrong. They are the good guys; and if you challenge their authority, then you must get bitten.

Confirmation Bias and the Dunning–Kruger Effect in Law Enforcement

I don't mean to sound facetious, but cops are literally too dumb to know just how dumb they actually are, and that makes things worse. Studies, as well as real-life experience, consistently reveal that police officers are more susceptible to confirmation bias than the general public because of factors inherent in their training and job skills. This bias then leads cops, who lack expertise in . . . well, anything, to overestimate their competence in every situation.

  • Limited Expertise vs. High Confidence: Police officers in the United States receive varying levels of training, but most do not cover the most essential subjects comprehensively, especially fields relating to logic, psychology, ethics, mental health, and statutory construction. As a result, most officers lack the depth of expertise required for handling complex situations despite being told to take charge of every encounter with the public.

  • Overemphasis on Officer Safety: Police training prioritizes officer safety first and foremost, often emphasizing the need to act preemptively to potential threats. This unwarranted hyper-vigilance of supposed "threats" leads to paranoia and hasty decisions, especially when encountering tense situations.

  • Reactive Thinking, Not Critical Thinking: Training scenarios that emphasize reactive responses to perceived threats condition cops to view situations in adversarial terms, making them more inclined to confirm their initial assumptions rather than seeking alternative explanations.



  • High-Stress Environment: Policing can be a high-stress occupation that involves dealing with life-threatening situations and making split-second decisions. The stress and pressure officers face naturally affect their ability to think critically and objectively, leading them to rely on preconceived notions rather than evaluating each situation independently.

  • Lack of External Feedback: The insular nature of law enforcement limits their exposure to external feedback and objective evaluations of their performance. This lack of constructive criticism and proper education prevents officers from recognizing their intellectual limitations.

  • Emotional Conditioning: When cops are not held accountable for messing up, it gives them the false impression that they must be doing everything correctly, which simply leads to an overestimation of their abilities, which simply discourages critical self-reflection.


The Link to Religion

What is equally disturbing is the fourth class of society that is implied in this sheepdog mythos. When viewing themselves as sheepdogs, most police officers believe in an invisible, omniscient, and vengeful Shepherd who is in charge. Being staunchly conservative politically, it is likely that most cops also hold to a conservative theo-political view of the world and of the Christian God, meaning they believe the world is run by a deity that has engaged in holy wars, slaughtered millions of sheep (both figuratively and literally), and even had the brazenness to torture and murder his own son . . . all for the sake of getting a job done (i.e., accomplishing some divine plan).


So this, then, forces us to ask: Why would sheepdogs act any better than their own Shepherd? If police officers believe that violence, torture, and even murder accomplish God’s will, why is it surprising when they behave in exactly this same manner from time to time? As "avengers who carry out God's wrath" (Romans 13:4), why would police officers view their job as anything but a divinely ordained duty to kill "bad guys"?


What happens when a group of people not only divide the world into black-and-white categories of sheep and wolves, but they also delude themselves into thinking they personally know and commune the God of the universe? The result is a feeling of superiority over others, which in turn creates the rationalizations needed to bend (or place yourself above) the law.



The point is that law enforcement creates the very petri dish of corruption and abuse that is toxic to the public's health. It isn’t just a few bad apples. No, the entire batch of police culture is rotten to the core.

It’s time we stop rationalizing police brutality as being the fault of only a couple of misfits. It’s not. It is an institutionalized and pervasive method of conditioning police officers to eliminate empathy and to view the public as a threat.

 

This is not just a few bad apples.



*****