Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Is there such a thing as a "good cop"?

+2 votes
Hear it all the time: "Not all cops are bad" "She/He's one of the good ones" etc etc
Do these kind of statements really hold any water?
asked Jul 10, 2013 by anonymous

1 Answer

+3 votes
yes and no.

there are certainly cops who attempt to "do good", who remain compassionate and honest even in the face of intense job pressures that encourage them to isolate from everyone-not-a-cop, there are cops who don't like cops, for that matter.

but as with politicians, it doesn't ultimately matter. because cops are a force of repression, regardless of whether individual cops are kind or not. it is the role of cop that must be done away with. which is why certain anarchists seem confused when they promote the idea of a body of people who are responsible for maintaining some kind of social order (or when they implicitly assume a kind of social order that would require or encourage such a body).  more michel foucault for everyone! (his concept of the panopticon and the cop in our heads is very relevant here.)
answered Jul 10, 2013 by dot (57,730 points)
if I was the sort who made twinkle fingers, I'd do so (happily, I'm not). I think one of the most dangerous things that people do is reduce our enemies to some sort of boogymen. From this perspective (in the case of anarchists) cops, fascists, politicians, etc. are all absolutely evil, and we have nothing in common with them, ever, in any way. not even the same species as we (presumably elevated and superior?) anarchists. they are pigs, scum, and on and on.

Problem is, things aren't that simple. I 0once had a job that forced me to interact with cops. I was already an anarchist, I hated cops. I also realized through these interactions that there were people who are cops that are, in their own lives, kind, well-meaning humans (albeit, ones that made poor career choices, IMHO). But the problem was, they were also cops, and the nature of a job like that means that well-meaning kindness is subsumed to the role of cop, when the shit hits the fan. Insofar as there is no such thing as a good state, or good capitalism, there is also no such thing as a good cop. To the extent that good, well-meaning people continue to play the role of protecting and perpetuating what I seek to destroy, they continue to be my enemies.

This is a great example of why moralistic ideas like "good" and "bad" ought to be jettisoned from anarchist thinking. It is too reductive, and too based upon pre-existing (and often unexamined) frames of thought (which is why I am glad you mentioned Foucault!)
on further reflection, i don't know where the phrase/idea "cop in your head" comes from. still a useful point, but i wish i could find a thoughtful treatment of it, including its origin.