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Are all law enforcement officers cops?

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  • Are all law enforcement officers cops?

    I have always thought that a cop was any law enforcement officer. As long as you had a gun, badge and the power to make arrest, I thought of them as cops. But than I have heard some law enforcement officers who work in a traditional police department getting all picky on who is a “cop”. They be saying that FBI agents aren’t cops and that only traditional police department officers are cops. I even hear it from non traditional law enforcement officers themselves stating that they aren’t cops(parole and probation officers) despite them having a gun, a badge and the powers of arrest. So my question is are all law enforcement officers of any kind cops in your opinion ?

  • #2
    FBI are not cops, they are investigators. Cops are generally considered uniformed patrol, the first guys on the scene. A corrections officer is not a cop. A court officer is not a cop. To the public everyone is a cop, but not to cops. Even in a precinct, you can have a police officer with the same duties as another police officer. The guy who knows the street and takes care of his sector is a cop. The one who shows up late at calls so he just has to write a report and is not proactive in any way, is merely someone who wears a police officers uniform.

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    • #3
      The origins of the word "cop" are generally understood to be based upon the British acronym "Constable On Patrol", and also related to British slang "copper" as a reference to the copper medallions worn on the constables' headgear as a badge of office. The first municipal police departments in the US were based largely upon the example of the London Metropolitan Constabulary, including Boston and New York City, and much of the tradition and jargon transferred readily because of a population including many recent immigrants from Great Britain.

      Another interesting British slang term is "peeler", a reference to police officers based upon the original commander of the constabulary, a gentleman named Peel.

      None of these terms were ever intended to be complimentary, and have frequently been used in insulting and derogatory manners. Over the years some of us simply rolled with the punches and adopted the term "cops" to identify ourselves and our positions in society.

      Over the course of my lifetime, and my career in law enforcement, there has been a general trend toward identifying law enforcement as a profession, with many officers objecting to the appellation "cop" as derogatory or somehow beneath professional standing. Regardless, many of us have always identified ourselves as "cops" in a generally proud manner, signifying our status as part of a tradition of peacekeeping and service to the communities of which we are a part.

      In the broad sense, I identify anyone whose duties include crime prevention, detection, investigation, apprehension of offenders, and service of court orders as "cops". There are many officials in capacities such as FBI agents, US Secret Service, Customs Officers, court bailiffs, probation & parole officers, and dozens of other specialized agencies who have never served a day on patrol, never had to deal with a domestic squabble, perhaps never even made an arrest, but (to me) these are still part of the fraternity of "cops".

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Punisher1336 View Post
        FBI are not cops, they are investigators. Cops are generally considered uniformed patrol, the first guys on the scene. A corrections officer is not a cop. A court officer is not a cop. To the public everyone is a cop, but not to cops. Even in a precinct, you can have a police officer with the same duties as another police officer. The guy who knows the street and takes care of his sector is a cop. The one who shows up late at calls so he just has to write a report and is not proactive in any way, is merely someone who wears a police officers uniform.
        Border patrol and US park police seem best fit to your description since they are uniformed patrol. I would even say federal and state park rangers would also fit.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by retired1995 View Post
          The origins of the word "cop" are generally understood to be based upon the British acronym "Constable On Patrol", and also related to British slang "copper" as a reference to the copper medallions worn on the constables' headgear as a badge of office. The first municipal police departments in the US were based largely upon the example of the London Metropolitan Constabulary, including Boston and New York City, and much of the tradition and jargon transferred readily because of a population including many recent immigrants from Great Britain.

          Another interesting British slang term is "peeler", a reference to police officers based upon the original commander of the constabulary, a gentleman named Peel.

          None of these terms were ever intended to be complimentary, and have frequently been used in insulting and derogatory manners. Over the years some of us simply rolled with the punches and adopted the term "cops" to identify ourselves and our positions in society.

          Over the course of my lifetime, and my career in law enforcement, there has been a general trend toward identifying law enforcement as a profession, with many officers objecting to the appellation "cop" as derogatory or somehow beneath professional standing. Regardless, many of us have always identified ourselves as "cops" in a generally proud manner, signifying our status as part of a tradition of peacekeeping and service to the communities of which we are a part.

          In the broad sense, I identify anyone whose duties include crime prevention, detection, investigation, apprehension of offenders, and service of court orders as "cops". There are many officials in capacities such as FBI agents, US Secret Service, Customs Officers, court bailiffs, probation & parole officers, and dozens of other specialized agencies who have never served a day on patrol, never had to deal with a domestic squabble, perhaps never even made an arrest, but (to me) these are still part of the fraternity of "cops".
          This.
          semper destravit

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          • #6
            Robert Peel who is sort of the father of the modern London police service is related to the slang "Bobbies" for London cops.

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            • Zeitgeist1
              Zeitgeist1 commented
              Editing a comment
              Interesting, didn't know that.

          • #7
            I always thought of cops as the people who show up when 911 is called. I don't consider myself a cop. I don't wear a uniform and for the most part I appear to be unarmed unless I am involved in an enforcement action. A law enforcement officer yes but not an cop. I know not every state is this way but in CA I don't have Peace Officer status under state law. But I consider myself to have more in common to my the local police officers and deputy sheriffs that I know than the non sworn members of my agency. I also wouldn't lump probation, parole, or corrections officers in as cops whether they are armed/have powers of arrest or not.

            If someone referred to me as a cop I wouldn't get upset. Just don't ask me about "the force." IMO there is no more gag worthy term when term when talking about law enforcement than referring to a department/office/agency as "the force".

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            • #8
              Term is generally reserved for beat cops. As someone else mentioned, COs/Park Rangers/Dod cops etc aren't.

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              • #9
                I was a NYS Court Officer for over 30 years. While many of our duties replicated those of local cops, we were not cops. That is a designation that should be limited to only those LEOs that provide police services to a section of the public.

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                • #10
                  The word “cop” comes from the Latin word “capere”, to capture or seize. The use of the word “cop” meaning to grab something or someone predates the London constables and NYPD. The word was adapted to refer to a LEO because that’s what cops do - they capture people.
                  Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

                  I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

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                  • #11
                    Originally posted by 9L81 View Post
                    If someone referred to me as a cop I wouldn't get upset. Just don't ask me about "the force." IMO there is no more gag worthy term when term when talking about law enforcement than referring to a department/office/agency as "the force".
                    This 1000%. I don't know why but that really annoys me.

                    Here we're just seen as 'Police' or 'PoPo.' Does not matter if it's a member of a Federal Task Force, Trooper, City Police, Sheriff, or any of the Feds.
                    I had no idea there was so much to the word 'Cops.'

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                    • #12
                      IMO it's similar to how the armed forces make fun of each other: Marines rib Soldiers who dis Airmen who point out that Marines have float wives courtesy of the Navy... and everyone looks down on Coasties.

                      AT the end of the day we're all cops, even the FBI guy who hasn't seen pavement in 15 years...
                      "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

                      "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

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                      • #13
                        Originally posted by tanksoldier View Post
                        IMO it's similar to how the armed forces make fun of each other: Marines rib Soldiers who dis Airmen who point out that Marines have float wives courtesy of the Navy... and everyone looks down on Coasties.

                        AT the end of the day we're all cops, even the FBI guy who hasn't seen pavement in 15 years...
                        Accountant with a badge

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                        • #14
                          Originally posted by Punisher1336 View Post

                          Accountant with a badge
                          No, that’s the IRS-CID... but if you need to put Al Capone in prison, they can help.
                          "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

                          "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

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