Created By: surfacetogokumissile on July 18, 2011
Nuked

Police Death Squad

Cops who forget they're supposed to arrest people instead of killing them

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Trope
In real life, Police are not judge jury and executioner. They are supposed to, in all but the most dire and dangerous circumstances, arrest even the most terrible Complete Monsters and bring them to justice within the court system. Much of their job is finding non-violent resolutions to potentially violent situations. A cop who shot first and asked questions later would find himself unemployed at best, and in prison at worst.

However, in fiction, police are often employed as a death squad, shooting suspects without so much as trying to arrest them or find a non-violent resolution. It's uncommon that anyone seems to mind the massive levels of Police Brutality and huge death tolls along with the brazen disregard for anything even resembling a criminal justice system. The Police Death Squad is even seen as noble sometimes, despite shooting up entire communities to get one guy accused of an often petty crime.
Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • July 18, 2011
    Falterfire
    The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall has a critical message for you: "HALTHALTHALTHALTHALTHALTHALTHALTHALT!"
  • July 18, 2011
    TwoGunAngel
    When Sin City's police force isn't useless in regards to taking down the real criminals of the title city, they are very much this. Marv has to fight a death squad at several points in The Hard Goodbye.
  • July 20, 2011
    Bisected8
    The police in CSI Miami can fall into this sometimes.
  • July 20, 2011
    TheJackal
    Most police in the Grand Theft Auto series, who will only attempt to arrest you if you have a very low wanted rating.
  • July 20, 2011
    JohnDiFool
    Real Life: The law enforcement officials hunting down Bonnie And Clyde decided to ambush them with machine guns rather than try to arrest them.
  • July 20, 2011
    elwoz
    Discworld deconstructs this: Commander Vimes is constantly resisting the temptation to do it, Carrot would never think of it (except that one time when he did, without hardly a word) and most of the other watchmen are more concerned with not getting killed themselves.
  • July 20, 2011
    CrypticMirror
    This is really going to need a No Real Life Examples warning on it I think. I can just see the wank now.
  • July 22, 2011
    Bisected8
    I can just see the wank now.

    @o@
  • July 22, 2011
    KamenZero
    in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, this is somewhat averted in that the guards give you the choice of jail time or paying gold, but the slightest hint of resistance, they try to kill you. Possibly justified in that they live in a time where the guards probably -are- the judge, jury, and executioner.
  • July 22, 2011
    captainbrass2
    Seconding the idea that there probably shouldn't be Real Life examples - too much potential controversy. Also, is this necessarily the best name? When I first saw it, I thought of death squads in Latin America, which aren't really the trope because they aren't even supposed to be acting within a regular criminal justice system. Trigger Happy Cops might be better.

    Harry Callahan of the Dirty Harry movies flirts with this trope sometimes. Certainly he never seems overly concerned about whether a bad guy he's pursuing might end up dead rather than under arrest.
  • July 22, 2011
    TwoGunAngel
    Trigger Happy Cops definitely sounds like the better name, though my Sin City example will need to be moved elsewhere because it is about a police death squad.
  • November 23, 2011
    TechUnadept
    May overlap with Doom Troops
  • November 24, 2011
    Deboss
    See Stop Or Ill Shoot (I think).
  • November 24, 2011
    TBTabby
    Cobra is a love letter to this trope, to the point of being an Author Tract advocating killing criminals on sight over arresting them. The Cowboy Cop hero is depicted as shooting every criminal he sees on sight and saving the day with no negative consequences while the more cautious colleagues run in circles.
  • November 24, 2011
    Lumpenprole
    The most common fate of the various villians in the Dick Tracy comic strip was to end up riddled with bullet holes. But since these were "gangsters" (the 1930s boogeyman equivalent to terrorists today), everybody approved.
  • November 25, 2011
    Fanra
    Seconding the idea that there probably shouldn't be Real Life examples - too much potential controversy.

    I don't see why all Real Life example must be excluded. There isn't much dispute or controversy over the fact that the FBI decided to simply kill the infamous bank robbers of the 1930s rather than try to arrest such dangerous killers.

    Harry Callahan of the Dirty Harry movies flirts with this trope sometimes. Certainly he never seems overly concerned about whether a bad guy he's pursuing might end up dead rather than under arrest.

    Actually, his behavior was contrasted with the cops who were a real death squad in Magnum Force.

    See also: Vigilante Man.
  • November 25, 2011
    Fanra
    According to a documentary based on Mark Bowden's book Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw, the United States and Colombia decided to straight out kill drug lord Pablo Escobar.
  • November 25, 2011
    foxley
    The Blues Brothers: "Use of unnecessary violence in the apprehension of the Blues Brothers HAS been approved."
  • December 1, 2011
    TBeholder
    @ TwoGunAngel : "Trigger Happy Cops" as a term seems to cover half of Cowboy Cop types out there.

    As to death squad sort - we already have "Judge Jury And Executioner", so is here any difference between variants big enough to make a new one?
  • December 1, 2011
    open_sketch
    MAD BULL 34
  • December 1, 2011
    TechUnadept
    If they wear intimidating uniforms, it overlaps with Doom Troops.
  • December 2, 2011
    fulltimeD
    The Metro Cops from Max Headroom were basically armored thugs who did the dirty work for the Networks.
  • February 14, 2013
    elwoz
    I am discarding this because it has not been worked on since December 2011. If you bring it back, please consider rolling up the examples and taking responsibility for seeing it through to a launch.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=okz59j7xhe4aucsz51y0dvaf&trope=DiscardedYKTTW