In our “Bad Cop, Bad Cop” episode, we look at some of the most corrupt, venal, and downright outrageous abuses of police power past and present, as well as the best of the worst cop movies and TV shows.

Music: “Jangled Nerves” by Fletcher Henderson

Movie Reviews

Serpico
Kevin: 7/10

Copland
Joe: 7/10
Kevin: 6/10

First Blood
Joe: 6/10
Kevin: 8/10

Mississippi Burning
Joe: 8/10
Kevin: 9/10

Bad Lieutenant
Joe: 8/10
Kevin: 5/10

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call
Joe: 6/10

Thin Blue Line
Kevin: 7/10

Maniac Cop
Joe: 3/10
Kevin: 2/10

Training Day
Kevin: 6/10

Leon (The Professional)
Joe: 9/10
Kevin: 9/10

Recommended Posts
Showing 18 comments
  • Nick Curnow

    Here’s a great movie for you guys, a Canadian film called “Hobo With A Shotgun,” where the city where the hobo (played by Rutger Hauer) goes has the ENTIRE police force on the main villians payroll. And they know it, when one of them says, “WE’RE ALL DIRTY COPS!”

  • banks!

    Despite Hollywood’s depiction of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as upright do gooders that always get their man, the RCMP has a long history of bad cop behaviour. The RCMP was formed in response to the Winnipeg Labour Riots in 1919. The civil unrest convinced the government to form a national police force. In addition, the government wanted to make the new police force more accountable after the RCMP predecessor, the North West Mounted Police, acted as strike breakers by employing excessive force.

    The RCMP eventually lost their role for security intelligence work as a result of their illegal activities in the 1970’s particularly events surrounding investigation in the Quebec separatist group the FLQ. The RCMP conducted hundreds of illegal break ins, illegal mail opening, illegal electronic surveillance and even burning down a barn where FLQ and Black Panther activists were allegedly going to meet. The MacDonald Commission ended in 1981 and recommended the formation CSIS to handle security intelligence work and reduce RCMP duties to strictly policing.

    I figured you probably talked about all of that but it got edited but I thought it might be interesting for listeners unfamiliar with this subject to hear about.

  • spookyparadigm

    Ok guys, I lived in New Orleans.

    It’s Louisiana, and it’s New Orleans vs. a suburb. What do you think was the most likely contentious difference?

  • Derek

    I wonder if the word cop for copper, to catch, is related to the expression “to cop a feel” – perhaps an Australianism – meaning to grope someone, typically a man groping a woman. E.g. Paul Keating, then Prime Minister, was criticised for “copping a feel” of the Queen when she visited – his hand didn’t quite make it as far up as the small of her back when he was shepherding toward something.

    Also, we say that “he copped a knock to the head”, e.g., when someone was hit with a high tackle in one of our rugby or football codes. That probably is the same root there too.

  • Derek

    I was going to add that crooked cop/gangster dramas are all the rage in Australia now (and have been for the last few years) with Channel 9’s series of Underbelly mini-series, but I haven’t actually watched any of it, so I don’t know how much of a crooked police angle is involved in them. Anyone else seen them?

    Great episode guys – very interesting. Glad I don’t live in the US, based on some of those laws you guys discussed.

  • Lars

    I was surprised you didn’t bring up the shooting of the Native wood carver in Seattle.

    But I guess you can’t possibly bring up all examples…

    • Toren

      I hadn’t heard of that, will try to get some info on that and maybe include it in Follow Ups.

  • Ray

    Another great movie to mention is “Touch of Evil,” directed by Orson Welles. In it, Charlton Heston plays a Mexican cop… yes, you read that right: a Mexican. Anyway, he’s a good cop who’s recently put away part of a family of drug lords, and he’s honeymooning with his American wife in a town that straddles the Mexican/American border. When a bomb is planted in a car on the Mexican side of the border, but doesn’t explode until the car crosses into America, Heston has to team up with Orson Welles, who plays a much more cynical cop.

    Among the questionable actions, Welles’ character plants evidence to frame the suspect that he thinks committed the crime. It gets revealed that he does this often, but it also is revealed that the suspects arrested because of this evidence always confess to the crime, though they remain baffled by the evidence used. This happens in this story, when the guy arrested confesses to planting the bomb, but has no idea how a few sticks of dynamite ended up in a shoebox in his closet.

    So, Welles plays a bad cop, but one that – like many real cops, I expect – is only crooked in ways that make his job of enforcing the law easier and more efficient. He doesn’t take bribes or use excessive force; he simply plants evidence to get the ball rolling.

    Still definitely wrong, and Bad Cop behavior… but an interesting take. Also, one of my favorite Orson Welles movies.

  • Lisa

    I almost didn’t download this one. I was scared it was going to be a lot of the usual rhetoric about how horrible authority is.

    But we must be able to listen to dissenting opinions in a rational world and I was pleased in the end at the even handed way you dealt with it.

    I would like to point out (as was pointed out in the podcast) however that the good stuff police do isn’t often reported. I have been a second hand (on the other end of the radio) witness to the following (just in Greater Vancouver):

    RCMP leaping into traffic to tackle a man in diabetes-caused psychosis trying to run in front of cars.

    VPD members wrestling a knife-wielding man in a hallway to prevent him from stabbing his wife again

    VPD and RCMP members gently talking a drunk half-naked guy off the ledge of a bridge for hours in the freezing rain (he gave himself up)

    Simultaneously in two jurisdictions, RCMP officers giving CPR to an elderly woman abandoned by her family and an infant going into seizures — because the ambulance couldn’t get there in time

    That stuff never makes the papers.

  • Scott D

    As far as bad cop stories go this one is hardly the worst, but I thought you might enjoy it. It’s from the “This American Life” radio show/podcast which can be quite good. This episode was told very well (I thought) and, of course, involves some bad cops. Cheers

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/447/the-incredible-case-of-the-pi-moms

  • zuzu

    follow up! At UC Davis, police officers pepper spray seated, peaceful protesters at close range. if the protesters covered their eyes, the officers would spray down their throats. it’s disgusting and unlike “Tony baloney” these officers had no excuse (pretend or otherwise) for their excessive use of force.

  • Harry Phillips

    Where is all the links / photos / videos that you said you would put up on the episode?

  • Andrew

    To clarify a comment made in the podcast which implied taking garbage may be illegal…
    Stealing garbage isn’t illegal (in the U.S., at least). Which is good news for people who like to engage in dumpster diving (or ‘trashing’, depending on who you’re talking to), but bad news for people naive enough to throw away important information.

  • Andrew

    Further, I’d personally deny a breathalyzer in favor of a blood test, due to the rampant inaccuracy of the breathalyzer. I neither drink nor drive, so it’s not a non-issue for me on no fewer than two levels, but if I did drive, that is one thing I’d want to know. Same reason I wouldn’t take a polygraph. The legal system historically lags behind modern science, primarily because legal decisions aren’t written by scientists. They aren’t even written by people who have a firm grasp of gradeschool science material. Which… leads to issues.

    • Bridgete

      Polygraphs are not admissible in court in…I want to say all 50 states, though I can only be certain about Massachusetts. But it would have come up in law school Evidence class if any states were an exception to this, so if there is an exception it’s probably by stipulation of the parties or some such thing.

      • Bridgete

        Forgot to comment on the breathalyzers…those are still admissible in DUI/DWI cases, though a good lawyer can probably fight it.

  • Bridgete

    1) I don’t see the promised PDF of what to do when stopped by the police in the US, so I want to share what the ACLU has: https://www.aclu.org/national-security/know-your-rights-when-encountering-law-enforcement. The pamphlet you can access from that page is a perfect summation of your rights regarding both stops and searches.

    2) There’s a good Brazilian film called Elite Squad, about the Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais (BOPE — essentially their version of SWAT). They’re trying to clean up the drug problem in the slums of Rio, the local police are corrupt to the point of active participation in the drug trade so they’re not really any help, chaos ensues. I’m terrible at synopses, but you guys should watch it. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0861739/

    3) Any thoughts on the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases going on in the US right now? There’s a lot of ongoing debate about both, especially surrounding the racial profiling issues, and I’m not sure how much you’re hearing about it in Canada, but based on what I understand the facts to be in both cases, while the actions of both victims may have warranted SOME sort of action by the officers, I really think they went too far in just how much force was used. Look into it if you haven’t heard much yet and let me know what you think.