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Confession of an honest cop – street justice?

Posted by TopOfTheThread on June 4, 2008

This is the conundrum of knowing what is right, and yet understanding why something “wrong” also makes sense.

We all know a cop should stay within the law. We all know what Paul (a fake name) did was absolutely wrong. This is meant to illustrate how and why a cop may do scales of justice copssomething out-of-bounds.


Paul is a college graduate, varsity athlete, honor student, who had never gotten in any type of trouble with the law. Upon graduation from college, he decided to take the NYC Police Department Exam. He scored well and was admitted to the NYPD Academy. He promptly graduated and has been walking a beat for the past 3 years. Everyone likes Paul. He’s just a good down-to-earth guy.

Interested in police work, I was chatting with Paul about the day’s events.

Paul and his partner had apprehended a mugger. A big guy. Probably 6’3″, 230 lbs. 25 years old. The mugger had grabbed an 80 year old women’s pocket book, knocked her to the ground, punched her in the face, and ran off.

Paul said we caught the guy later in the day. He had the lady’s jewelry on him. We cuffed him. Made a quick stop on the way to the station house, and booked him.

I asked him what he meant by “made a quick stop on the way to the station house…”?

“Well, we brought him to a secluded alley, roughed him up a little, and then brought him to the station.”

I was so suprised to here this. Paul was Mr. Clean Cut, and this was totally unexpected. “Paul, you beat the guy up? What gives you the right to do that?”

His reponse: “He didn’t need to punch the old lady. He had her pocketbook. She could not fight back. He had what he wanted and decided to hurt her. He is going to be back on the street in a few hours. He will remember our beating and hopefully not do it again. The court system is not going to prevent him from snatching another purse. Hopefully, our lesson to him will prevent him from hurting the next lady.”

I understood. Disagreed. I guess when officers say “Do the right thing”, this is what they mean.

At that point I realized I had absolutely no clue what it is like to be a police officer.


We all know we need some major changes. I wish someone had some answers.

I lost touch with Paul. I will never lose this story.


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One Response to “Confession of an honest cop – street justice?”

  1. Diana said

    Horray for the cops!!! I am a senior citizen over 70 years old and when I read they knocked the woman down what immediately came to my mind was “that’s all they had to do, why punch her in the face???? If they knocked me down I’d immediately be useless….the punch is unnecessary violence ……So bravo Officers.

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