Why Would Anyone Think ‘Contempt of Cop’ is a Good Idea?

Police officers apparently have a name for the actions taken by those who disrespect police officers and seem to be looking to provoke them: Contempt of Cop.

Every time I see a video of someone disrespecting a police officer — exercising “contempt of cop” — there’s always a question that immediately comes to mind: “Why do they think this would end well?”

I had breakfast recently at a neighborhood diner. While I enjoyed what tasted like a home-cooked meal, served far faster than I would have been able to prepare it all, I overheard a snippet of a conversation.

From what I could piece together, one of their staffers wasn’t able to report to work. The reason, apparently, was that she had been stopped by police the night before.

I couldn’t get a clear understanding of the reason for the stop. (And I didn’t really want to ask.) But a waitress was telling a waiter that the woman ended up being taken to jail.

The reason?

“She was rude to the cops so they took her to jail,” the woman said.

Recently, I saw one of those viral videos of a woman being struck by police officers for refusing to cooperate.

Did the police get out of line? You can argue that all day.

But what I see in the majority of videos where police exercise physical force against someone is that the someone on the receiving end certainly seems to be out of line.

A 2009 essay in Time magazine claimed there’s a phrase in law enforcement that is widely known: “contempt of cop.”

Why would anyone who is rude, disrespectful or disobedient to a police officer possibly think that would end well?

They’re the ones with the civil authority. They’re the ones (though not possibly the only ones) with the firearms. They have the option, when they deem it necessary, to use force.

Granted, the objection often is they use too much force, even deadly force, when they shouldn’t.

But if you honestly believe they’re just looking for an excuse, why would you give them one?

Why would you think that would end well for you?

Chances are, I think, people who are blatantly disrespectful already know they’re in the wrong. So they hope they can cause a situation in provoking police to take the focus off their guilt.

If it were up to me, people who behaved that way would face several times the penalty they would have faced if they’d only have followed orders to begin with.

After all, for every person who exercises “contempt of cop,” they’re making those very officers that much more tense the next time they have to approach someone. And that someone could be you or a member of your family.

If I ever have an encounter with police, you can bet I want everyone to remain calm. I want it to go smoothly.

And if I feel an officer crosses some line, I’ll deal with that, you may be sure. But I’ll deal with the proper way: after the fact, through proper channels.

I certainly have no desire to escalate a situation when my potential adversary is the one presumed to have the law on his side.

Anything less, in my book, is just foolish.

I hope that waitress gets out of jail quickly. And I hope she’ll think about her actions a little more carefully the next time she decides to be rude to a police officer.

I bet she’ll have a lot easier go of it, too.


  1. No sane person would deliberately antagonize a police officer, especially if already in trouble. However, the phrase “contempt of cop” is intentionally derisive, as at times a cop behaves as judge, jury, and at times EXECUTIONER for no good reason at all: his ego was bruised by a perceived slight, or the subject wasn’t sufficiently deferential or otherwise, like one, thankfully fictional Eric Cartman, whom, letting the role.of Hall Monitor go to his head, demands that everyone “respect his Authoritai”. Arrogant little brats should be confined to animated shows of questionable taste, not roaming our streets with issued sidearms and wielding authority in the face of whomsoever is unlucky enough to encounter them.

  2. I love the police, before and much more so after working with them as an EMT! These guys put up with a lot of shite on the job; dished out from criminals, disrespectful people, etc., when they are putting themselves in dangerous positions to keep the [often ungrateful] lot of us safe.

    For a while, people would not just provoke the police, but would try to put them in to a position of making the officer(s) involved feel that he was directly a danger to them so he would go through “death by cop”. This, to me, is the worst tactic ever considered by the civilian – do you think the police are so blasé as to not be affected by killing someone?!

    We all feel the effect of killing a living being, with the exception of the serial killer. But when I say “all”, this means not just us regular blokes but truly everyone. Police are human beings.

    And police have certain protective rights for their own conservation, their own buffer of safety as well. I have seen those videos – usually on the news, as opposed to hunting for them or tripping over them on YouTube. I was particularly shocked at a video where a tiny somewhat older woman, maybe in her 60s, was physically all over the place struggling against being handcuffed and screaming at a cop on the side of the road somewhere. The boyfriend or whomever he was had drugs, she had a pipe, of course the police were testing the drugs. But the woman…the more calmly the officers spoke to her, the more crazy she got. She began poking – POKING! – the officer in the chest! And while it was obvious to me that he was wearing a vest under his uniform, she kept poking, hard, looking like a flea attacking a momument. (I’m sure this hurt her finger, too, but she seemed completely oblivious – and probably was.)

    But even though she was only poking him, and not making any headway before being cuffed, she was, by the letter of the law, committing battery of a police officer. This is NOT a minor charge, it is a heavy felony. As well it should be. No one should be able to put their hands on a police officer unless it is to shake his hand in thanks or appreciation for what he does!

    It is terrible read a phrase like “contempt of cop”. In this case, it should be “contemptuous civilians”!

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.