[Opinion] ‘Bad apples’ delusion: Like the Catholic Church, police must confront an abusive culture


August 12, 2020

By David Gibson

The Catholic Church always saw child abuse as a sin and a scandal. Police abuse is seen as lamentable but acceptable, even heroic, to keep the peace.

The mantra invoked when episodes of police brutality or corruption come to light, as they do with gut-wrenching regularity these days, is that it’s just a matter of “a few bad apples.” It’s an all-too familiar refrain to those of us who have covered sex abuse in religion for so many years, especially the high-profile and well-documented cases of the abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.

It’s also the wrong way to think about the problem. The Catholic Church is learning that lesson, but too many law enforcement agencies are not. And there’s no reason that police departments shouldn’t be doing at least as much, and as well, as the Catholic Church when it comes to ending abuses given that the two cultures are so similar.

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