My Son Wants to be a Cop

goodcopbadcopIt was July 4th, in Lakeville, Minnesota. We had just been witness to the worst fireworks show since Christopher Columbus arrived on our fair shores, the natives celebrating with their Gattling guns, shooting glittered cherry pits into the air, peppering the smelly white folk with scented ash (hey…if David Barton can embellish history, I can too!).

We had a long walk back to the car. Two blocks, that is. Long Lakeville blocks. Traffic was everyone, everyone trying at once to get back home, faster than the next person. At 10:30PM on a Monday night, who wouldn’t want to be home faster than everyone else?

Police whistles cut the air and hurt your ears, the closer you came to an intersection. As we waited at the corner, Fred (11) watched with pure happiness on his face, as the officers waved their lighted wands, directing traffic against the lights. Then, they let us go, whistling unnecessarily, somewhat irritable.

Stepping off the curb onto the street, Fred stumbled over the feet of the crowd, making sure to continually catch a glimpse of the officers with every step he took. Pure joy was on his face.

“Daddy, I’m going to be a cop when I grow up, so I can do that.”

I bristled. A cop? You mean that police force that feels as if they’re on the clock when they encounter someone with a mental health condition? You mean the officers that treat me like a criminal during a simple traffic stop? You mean those men in blue that spout racist comments on social media, even encouraging people to run over protesters and activists calling for equal justice and actual due process, as afforded by our Constitution? You mean the men and women who sit on top of defenseless human being, citizens with every right to exist, and shoot them in the back? You mean those?

But I didn’t say that. I looked at my son and saw a generation of rebirth. One cog in the wheel of changing the system that my generation is attempting to start for him. He would have the opportunity to be a foot soldier in a new era of policing. One with recognition of rights and equality. One with empathy, sense of community, restraint, trustworthiness, yes, even love.

“Which kind? A good cop or a bad cop?”

With a look of utter disdain, side-eyeballing me with deep suspicion, wondering why the hell I have the audacity to question his character, he muttered under his breath, “You know the one, of course.”

I tousled his hair as we stepped up on the curb on the other side of the street, hoping the system won’t get to him before he brings hell to them.


  1. says

    Here is why it’s not moral to be a cop:
    To be a cop you must pledge yourself to enforce a body of laws which may be different from your own moral precepts or the moral precepts of the people upon whom you propose to enforce those laws.
    Worse, to be a cop you pledge to enforce those laws as an agent of society-at-large – as an icon of democracy – whether or not you agree with those laws.
    It is never moral to be willing to enforce laws that you do not agree with or uinderstand.

    • StevoR says

      Oh for pity’s sake Marcus Ranum, US law enforcement agencies may have a lot of flaws and, yes, a lot of the time African American citizens do get treated appallingly but that’s a bloody far cry form US police being as bad as Dae’sh or the SS. (You lose by Godwin as well.) Doesn’t it occur to you that what is needed is a better non-racist police force and that getting kids who want to be good cops – exemplifying the very best aspects of what police officers can be and often also are – is exactly what’s needed not raging in fury at those who see the world in a different, much more mellow and positive light than you do?

      Society needs to have laws and have those enforced – part of the social contract and keeping everyone safe and your blanket pathological hatred of the police is counter-productive and gets us all nowhere good. Try chilling out and thinking about the other perspectives and sides to the story for once, Marcus Ranum.

  2. says

    I agree that it’s rough, You gotta teach them what the consequences of making choices means. I don’t know how to do it. It’s one of the reasons I decide not to have kids. I was terrified I’d have a child and it would grow up to be a right wing authoritarian.

  3. StevoR says

    @ Joe Sands: Its been quite awhile now without any new posts from you. I hope you are okay and all is well. Best wishes from me.

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