TheGrio Daily

Where are the good cops?

Episode 97

“I don’t have any evidence that good cops exist.” Michael Harriot takes a bold stance with his theory that there is no such thing as a good cop and he uses occupational research and data to back it up. TheGrio Daily is an original podcast by theGrio Black Podcast Network. #BlackCultureAmplified


[00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. Black Culture Amplified. 

Michael Harriot [00:00:05] Hello and welcome back to another episode of this podcast that we call theGrio Daily. All this week we’ve been talking about policing some of the methodology behind policing, and some people may have wondered why we don’t start with every episode with the same phrase, and today I think we should. So I want to welcome you to theGrio Daily. The podcast is willing to ask the question, Where are the good cops? 

Michael Harriot [00:00:38] We hear that all the time. Like before we have any conversation about police, everyone has to preface it with, “And of course there are some good cops.” And you know, I am not anti-cop. I am probably not shooting people in the face if anything. But the fact is I don’t have any evidence that good cops exist. Like so for good cops to exist, what would have to happen? Right. So. So let’s say that these mythical good cops insist, right? Because I know people say, well, I know a good cop because my cousin is a cop. My dad is a cop. My uncle was a cop. My granddaddy  was a cop. That don’t mean he was good cop, right? Because. He was the thing, right? Do you know any police department in America where Black people don’t think that they target Black people disproportionately. So for there to be good cops like most Black people, would have to be wrong in America. So let’s start with right there. Now, number two, if there were good cops, didn’t, how could there be bad cops? Right. The cops. Well, the job is to prevent crime, to enforce the law. So if you have criminals and people who break the law within your department, right, then you might not be complicit with them. But. You got to be terrible at your job. Like, if your job is finding criminals and you work with a criminal and you don’t never do anything about the criminal and you don’t never even either don’t know that that person is a criminal or don’t care about that person being a criminal, then you, ar at the very least, very bad at your job. Which means you are a bad cop. You are bad at copping. You are bad at policing. So. So. So that’s the second or the third reason, I’ve lost count. 

Michael Harriot [00:02:42] The next reason that I can’t believe that there are good cops is because I never hear from them. We hear a lot about cops who are corrupt. We hear a lot about cops who are brutal, who treat people badly. We hear a lot about gung ho cops. We hear a lot about inept cops. And why don’t we ever hear from these good cops? Like, why don’t they say, hey, we got this inept guy working for us. Hey, we got this this guy who’s really brutal working for us. Because if their job was to protect and serve again, we would hear from them before somebody dies. Because their silence could have, not being silent could have prevented a death. So if they ain’t stopping people from dying, how could they be good cops? If they ain’t telling, how could they be good cops? They are terrible cops because their job is to protect and to serve. And if they are neither protecting or serving, then even doing what’s in their job description. It’s like, you know, seeing somebody who worked at Burger King and saying, look, man, you know, I’m willing to work here, but I ain’t gonna be cooking no burgers or fries or making no food for nobody or mopping no floors of a period of restaurant for to make food like I’m doing. I’m not going to do anything in that arena. Then how are you a good Burger King employee? If you can’t make burgers and fries or refuse to make burgers or fries, it doesn’t matter because you ain’t a good Burger King employee. You probably going to get fired. 

Michael Harriot [00:04:36] And the next reason that I can’t believe that there is such a thing as good cops is because when we look at people who are killed by police, who are brutalized by police, we always see that it is just a random cop. If there was something that would stand out, if there was some, you know, thread that we could find some commonality that would let us know what cop was going to shoot or kill somebody, they probably would have found it by now. Like we know, like serial killers usually torture animals before they, you know, they commit murder or move on to human murders. We know that people who, for instance, use drugs, you know, they usually start when they are young. Very few people, I don’t know if people know this, drug use usually starts before the age of 30. If you ain’t use drugs before the age of 30, then you probably aren’t going to use them. If you use them responsibly for before the age of 30, you’re probably going to use them responsibly for the rest of your life. Like people don’t become like cocaine crack users at 48. Back to what I was saying. If there was a commonality among cops, among police officers that like one trait, that would let us know, like, if he does this. They’re probably going to shoot a Black person and are probably going to do something. But there is it like research, a psychologist, profilers, police departments, mental health specialists, people who do psych evaluations for police academies, they will look. And there really is it one thing that lets us know if a police officer is going to be racist or disproportionately negative towards Black people. 

Michael Harriot [00:06:43] Well, okay. Okay. Well, there is just one specific trait, and I don’t know if you ever heard of this. It’s called being a police officer. Right. Like, the one thing we know is that police officers kill more people than any other occupation, Like the garbage man ain’t killing nobody. The firefighters ain’t killer nobody. Like police officers legitimately kill more people than like people who hunt for a living. People who teach skydiving for a living. Police officers kill more people than that. So the easiest if you, not just singling out police officers, if you got all of the occupations in America together. And said. We’re going to find out which one kills more people. It’s easy, police officers. And here’s the thing. Policing is not the most dangerous job in America. You remember what I said earlier. Garbagemen, actually being a garbage man is more dangerous than being a police officer. For some reason, garbage men don’t need guns, right? Working in convenience stores is more dangerous than being a police officer. For some reason, people in convenience stores don’t kill a bunch of people. Roofing, and that’s cause they fall off the roof. Okay, I’m gonna give you that. 

Michael Harriot [00:08:16] But police officer, is it a very dangerous occupation compared to the number of people they kill? And another reason is, right. So when we talk about policing, here’s a thing that, you know, no one ever mentions. Police officers in general, statistically, don’t get killed by other people very often. Right. Like when you look at the number of police who die every year, like there’s a big number. It’s usually in the hundreds. Right. But then when you look at the numbers and whittle away, first of all, most of those people die from like illnesses, from accidents, heart attacks. Because we’re talking about on duty deaths. Traffic accidents is a big one. But when you talk about being killed by a criminal on duty. Almost never happens like 50, 60 times a year. Right. And the other thing that we never mention. Most of the people who kill police officers are white. Right. Like, if police officers were really kind of profiling people and seeing who put their lives in danger. White people kill more police officers every year. 

Michael Harriot [00:09:42] And so. Knowing this, you have to ask yourself, why do police officers keep hurting, keep dispensing justice unequally? Where are the good cops? And the answer is, what if there are none? Like like we keep hearing about them, but there is no evidence that a significant number of police officers in America are doing the right thing because they keep protecting with their silence, with their acquiescence, with the fact that they are complicit in the system, that disproportionately murders Black people and the racism, how can it be good? Right. So before we go our ask you this question. Let’s say you worked at McDonald’s. Oh, let’s go to Burger King. And there was somebody like it was like 40 people on the staff and it was one guy who sold crack at the drive thru window and you knew about it. But you didn’t say anything. And. The police came there one day and they were doing an investigation. They rounded everybody up and they asked you if you were selling crack out of the McDonald’s window and you said no. They said, well, you’re a good employee. And then they asked you, well, did you know crack was being sold out of the McDonald’s drive thru window? And you hesitate and you weighed crack. You didn’t participate. But you know what this dude was doing. He was selling crack out of the McDonald’s drive thru. Could you tell the police I’m still a good McDonald’s employee? 

Michael Harriot [00:11:41] That’s why you got to ask yourself, where are the good cops? That’s why you got to listen to this podcast and that’s why you have to tell a friend about it. And that’s why we have to leave you with another Black saying, “A good cop is like a unicorn. You can dream, but don’t expect to see him walking down the street.” We’ll see you next time on theGrio Daily. If you like what you heard, please give us a five star review. Download theGrio app or subscribe to the show and to share it with everyone you know. Please email all questions, suggestions and compliments to podcasts at 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:38] I’m political scientist, author and professor Dr. Christina Greer, and I’m host of The Blackest Questions on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. This person invented ranch dressing around 1950. Who are they? 

Marc Lamont Hill [00:12:52] I have no idea. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:53] This all began as an exclusive Black history trivia party at my home in Harlem with family and friends. And they got so popular it seemed only right to share the fun with our Grio listeners. Each week we invite a familiar face on the podcast to play. What was the name of the person who was an enslaved chief cook for George Washington and later ran away to freedom? In 1868, this university was the first in the country to open a medical school that welcomed medical students of all races, genders and social classes. What university was it?

Roy Wood, Jr [00:13:26] This is why I like doing stuff with you, because I leave educated. I was not taught this in Alabama Public Schools. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:32] Question three. You ready? 

Eboni K. Williams [00:13:34] Yes. I want to redeem myself. 

Amanda Seales [00:13:36] How do we go from Kwanzaa to like these obscure stories? This is like the New York Times crossword from a Monday to a Saturday. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:46] Right or wrong, because all we care about is the journey and having some fun while we do it. 

Kalen Allen [00:13:51] I’m excited and also a little nervous. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:53] Oh, listen. No need to be nervous. And as I tell all of my guests, this is an opportunity for us to educate ourselves because Black history is American history. So we’re just going to have some fun. Listen, some people get zero out of five. Some people get five out of five. It doesn’t matter. We’re just going to be on a little intellectual journey together. 

Eboni K. Williams [00:14:09] Latoya Cantrell? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:12] That’s right. Mayor Latoya Cantrell. 

Michael W. Twitty [00:14:14] Hercules Posey. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:15] Hmm. Born in 1754 and he was a member of the Mount Vernon slave community, widely admired for his culinary skills. 

Kalen Allen [00:14:22] I’m going to guess AfroPunk. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:25] Close. It’s Afro Nation. According to my research, it’s Samuel Wilson a.k.a Falcon. 

Jason Johnson [00:14:34] Wrong. Wrong I am disputing this. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:38] Very, very, very rare 99.999 I’m sure that it is Representative John Lewis, who is also from the state of Alabama. That let you know, Christina, we got some good this come out of Alabama. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:50] There’s something in the water in Alabama. And you are absolutely correct. 

Diallo Riddle [00:14:53] The harder they come? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:55] Close 

Diallo Riddle [00:14:56] Oh, wait. The harder they fall? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:58] That’s right. I’m one of those people that just changes one word. I mean, I know show. 

Roy Wood, Jr [00:15:03] I just don’t know nothing today. I’ma pour myself a little water while you tell me the answer. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:07] The answer is Seneca Village, which began in 1825 with the purchase of land by a trustee of the A.M.E. Zion Church. 

Roy Wood, Jr [00:15:14] You know why games like this make me nervous? I don’t know if I know enough Black. Do I know enough? How Black am I? Oh, my Lord. We going to find out in public. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:22] So give us a follow. Subscribe and join us on the Blackest Questions.