Good Cop Bad Cop - Does This Really Happen


I'll admit I'm a sucker for a quality cop show on television. If The Wire didn't hook you, you simply aren't alive. Regardless, these shows often depict the good cop, bad cop strategy when duping a defendant into giving up some damning piece of evidence. The question is whether this really happens.

So, just what is the good cop, bad cop routine? As the name suggests, there are two officers. One plays the bad cop roll with the other playing the good version. The process often starts off with the bad cop giving the defendant a nightmare scenario and general ragging. The good cop then comes in as the individual trying to be the buddy of the defendant. After a while, the defendant often will open up to the good cop and blurt out some particularly damning bit of information. At least, that's the way it happens on television.

So, does this happen in the real world? If you are arrested for something, can you actually expect to see the good cop, bad cop routine practiced on you? The chances are good, but it doesn't happen as often as you see on television. Some cases involve only one officer and some precincts are often so busy that they simply don't have the time to do it. All that being said, two officers talking to you will often pursue the strategy.

We've all seen the good cop, bad cop routine on television and more or less know how it works. Given this, why would the police continue to use the strategy? The answer is simple. Because it works! Being arrested, booked, stuck in a cell and then brought to an interrogation room is a stressful event. Stress can wear you down. The idea of having a "friend" in the good cop makes a person susceptible to opening up over time. It is a natural event.