Bad apples will spoil the bunch

The Catholic Church had a centuries old problem it failed to address that police departments and unions should heed. After complaints became more public, the Catholic Church was forced to more drastically deal with pedophile priests. Failing to address these bad apples painted the whole church and its entire priesthood in a bad light. Now, the significant majority of priests were not pedophiles, but the bad apples tainted the whole bunch.

While the majority of police officers are good people doing a hard job, it would be incorrect to say there are no bad apples among their ranks. Even the best of the police will make errors of judgement when fear enters the equation (note this observation comes from a police chief). But, there are a number of police officers who have unhealthy racist bents or are prone to undue force. They are bad apples.

As with the priests, the failure of police department and union leadership to police their own paints all police in an unfair bad light. Holding police officers accountable is critical in regaining trust. Those good cops who make errors in judgement due to fear must be helped to be better through acknowledgement, training, and more training. And, punishment may be necessary.

Yet, the bad apples must be dealt with. Too many racists and violent prone police officers have been identified through numerous complaints, yet they go on largely unscathed. Some have even risen in the union ranks due to an unhealthy zeal to protect rogue cops, including themselves.

While this last point may alarm some, NPR reported the head of one Police Federation has had thirty official complaints and has created an old boy’s network. This same union leader made insensitive racial remarks about George Floyd and spoke of exonerating the four officers, not mentioning the kneeling on Floyd’s neck. It should be noted fourteen officers in this federation have broken ranks from this position and have condemned the officers for wrongdoing toward Floyd.

The bad apples must be acknowledged and dealt with. The failure to do so, emulates the embarassing and criminal oversights perpetuated by the Catholic Church. And, that is not good. On the flip side, I am proud of the police officers of all colors who have joined the civil protests.

16 thoughts on “Bad apples will spoil the bunch

  1. Janis, interesting thoughts on your mother-in-law’s sentiments. This NPR piece was disturbing. Apparently, there is offensive language used by some of the old boy network to discuss black suspects. This has to be weeded out, but it becomes harder when it infests the leadership.


  2. Agreed, Keith, and I would add that this is representative of societal attitudes. A society no longer willing to tolerate such attitudes (and excuses) is where the change needs to happen. I agree with the peaceful protesters. We all need to question our behaviour and what is acceptable.

  3. I would think if they raised the pay of those who join the police force and vet the applicants more carefully they could combine this with intensive training and help curb the abuses somewhat. At the very least they should assign black officers to black neighborhoods. But, as you say, there will always be the bad egg.

    • Hugh, that would help, but they need to take a hoe to get more weeds out of the garden. There are a few that are attracted to using authority to bully other races and some are recruited by people in the force that are like minded. Until the police rids themselves of those kinds of folks, it will not fully address the problem. Keith

  4. This is one of the problems when an organisation or community feels itself threatened there can be a closing of ranks. It is very common across the broad area of public service, as I can personally testify. In such an environment forceful personalities of questionable talent can make an impact and draw in a loud clique about them, which management might be reticent to confront or in some cases sympathise with.
    The solutions are relatively simple to itemise but difficult to bring into practical play.
    1. Ensure the service is well-funded and fully staffed so there is no attrition.
    2. Ensure its personnel are well trained and indoctrinated with the requirements of public-service to all.
    3. Once these are in place defend the organisation from ‘cheap-shot’ jibes which have no basis..these are usually the Sweeping Generalisations.
    4. If it is public service under no circumstances let private contractors/consultants become involved in its operations and this is not an area where profit motive as any place.
    5. With the idea fostered of a high quality personnel have no tolerance for anyone who sullies the image by bad practice.

    • Roger, this is well laid out. Your last point is vital, as those who get it, must help police those who do not. The Catholic Church failed people, because those that knew did not address the problems. This has also occurred with the English football yourh coach, the tennis coach in Florida, the Michigan State and Olympic gymnastics doctor, the Penn State football coach, the Ohio State athletics doctor, Volkswagen emissions test fraud, Toyota floor pad issue, and so on.

      Whether it is one person, several people or small contagion of people, those in the know have to speak up. Doing the right thing will save the brand, rather than trying to cover it up. Keith

  5. Well said, my friend. We have turned a blind eye for far too long and now look where we are. And you’re right about the bad apples … your comparison with the Catholic Church was so valid! Great post!

  6. Pingback: Inhumanity | Filosofa's Word

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