Good cops, bad cops, and cameras... thoughts from a WIP

in fiction •  2 years ago

This is from a novel I may never finish - an interracial romance between a journalist and a cop. When I started it last April, there was plenty to say about cops and race, but I felt like I could "handle it." I've written about PTSD and Southern race relations in other novels, but this was really going to stretch me.

Since then, between my research and the news, I've reconsidered. I read books like What Cops Know, which I picked up because the local uni's Policing class was using it as a textbook. (I live in the US so it's not affordable to just take a class; closest I could get was to buy the book), And what a grim picture of what cops see everyday.

And Jill Levy's Ghettoside, which shows the horror of gang violence from the POV of the community as well as from that of the cops.

I write romance novels, and while I pride myself on doing my research, I realized...this is just too much weight for a piece of popular fiction to carry. Certainly more than I can carry.

But here's one piece of the book I really liked, a conversation between Greg, the biracial journalist, and Joe, the cop, that I didn't want to just let go of.

“Just look at how many bad cops there are,” Greg insisted. “Like…shit, it feels like all of them are some days when I watch the news.”
Joe had been thinking about this for a while. “Okay, I have a scenario for you. Imagine that in every operating room, there were web cams, or the family was in a viewing area with cellphones. And you could record the doctors’ every move. And if the operation was botched, you’d have the proof.”
“Right,” Greg agreed. “You should be able to do that. Because just like cops, doctors cover for each other. Even if they know it’s a bad doctor.”
“Right, but…bad doctors couldn’t run for cover anymore if there were cameras everywhere, could they? They could fuck up a surgery, and they could no longer come out and say, we did all we could, if there was evidence that he fucked up, had shaky hands and operated anyway, and clipped an artery or something.”
“So what are you saying?”
“That there are bad eggs everywhere, in every system. But only cops get filmed being bad cops. Doctors don’t get filmed being criminally negligent doctors, but that happens every day. Any bad cop is too many bad cops. And it’s good that they get caught. But it doesn’t mean all cops are bad, or that only cops are bad. They’re just the only ones on camera.”

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