In the City of Freeburg, everyone is corrupt. The Mayor stands ready to take care of any advantage to further his career, half of the police are on the take, and the criminal underworld circles like sharks, poised to take control of the city. Into this city of grime and crime comes 60-year-old police chief Jack Boyd. Sick and tired of the corruption around him and with retirement a mere 180 days away, Jack decides that he's had enough of serving the city, and it's time the city started serving him. Now Jack is living out the last six months of his police career with one objective in mind: make half a million dollars before his retirement.
This Is The Police is a management type game with a mild choose your own story slant, packaged with a Noir theme and set sometime around 1985. Players take on the role of the Police Chief and must perform their duties as an officer of the law while making money along the way. The game uses a simple point-and-click interface that hides a fairly complex world of politics and corruption where nearly everything is hidden from the player. As the Police Chief you don't solve crimes directly, but rather send out officers to resolve crimes in progress and assign detectives to solve crimes. Depending on how you manage your people depends on the choices the game gives you, and the choices you make may have long term consequences even Jack can't predict.
A sequel called This Is The Police 2 which has the player managing a sheriff's department in the cold and remote northern town of Sharpwood was released on the 1st of August, 2018.
A spinoff, Rebel Cops, was released in September 2019, and centers around a group of "vigilante" police officers waging a guerrilla war against a ruthless, sadistic crime boss who has taken over their town. Unlike its predecessors, Rebel Cops forgoes the simulation aspects of the series in favor of focusing solely on turn based, tactical combat.
This game provides examples of:
- The '80s: One of the assignments you can receive is to assign an officer to provide security to a premier screening of Back to the Future, placing the time period of this game in 1985.
- Anyone Can Die: Your officers can die from first response either from choice or low professional rating.
- The Alleged Car: One individual comes to Jack offering an alternative fuel source for the city's police cars. Taking him up on the offer nets Jack $45000, but will cause police cars to crash at a ridiculous rate, which will decimate Freeburg's police force.
- Arc Words: "Why half a million?"
- Back-Alley Doctor: The police are called in when one of these has gone off his rocker and started carving up his patients.
- The Bad Guys Are Cops: And they moonlight as personal enforcers for the Mafia, possibly under Jack Boyd's direct orders.
- But Thou Must!: You can either agree to help Kendrick when he asks for you to become Sand's mole in the police department, or you can refuse, which has Sand send Jack a photo of the decapitated heads of Kendrick's family hanging from a chandelier to help convince him otherwise. Either way, you're working for the mob.
- Central Theme: The self-serving nature of power, the result of trying to please multiple parties ends up with the most vulnerable paying the price, and the difficulty of being a normal joe in a corrupt system.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: During the political dispute in act 3, cops who support Mayor Rogers have the backgrounds of their portraits colored red while cops who support Robespierre are colored green.
- Corrupt Church: Not even the clergy is clean in this city, as a series of late-game investigations let you find out. Cracking down on their crimes follows the exact same scheme used with criminal families like Sand or Vargas, because that's pretty much what the church in Freeburg is.
- Corrupt Politician: Freeburg has quite possibly the most corrupt city hall ever seen. Even more than The Wire.
- Creator Provincialism: The developers are from Belarus, and the behavior of the police, mafia, and politicians in this game is much more in line with how corrupt East European oligarchs and mafias operate than it is with how organized crime and corruption manifests in America, particularly with the blatantly open mafia crimes. From an American perspective, it can be genuinely surreal to see this happening in what's labeled an American city - as shown in Gecko's Let's Play on the spacebattles forums.
- Deadpan Snarker: Jack. His life helped him to refine his sarcasm to a truly weapon-grade level.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: To illustrate just how twisted and corrupt the city government is, the first request you get from city hall is that you fire all your black police members in order to appease the local white supremacist groups.
- Difficulty Spike: The game throws more conditions at the player after each Time Skip. After the first coma, the city has become more dangerous and officers refuse to respond to callouts alone. After the second, officers' political affiliations become a factor, making it dangerous to pair up officers backing opposing mayoral candidates.
- Dirty Cop: Exactly what the player is. Exactly how corrupt is up to you.
- Drinking on Duty: Some officers can end up coming into work drunk. They can also end up being given drinks at certain events held by various people. A drunk officer has a higher chance of ending up in a fatal car accident.
- The Don: Christopher Sand.
- The Fall Guy: Whenever you are getting ready to violently suppress a protest, your deputy warns you that your actions are illegal and will cause an investigation by the DA's office. You can avoid responsibility by planting evidence that one of your senior officers on the scene was actually responsible for starting the violence against your orders.
- Kingmaker Scenario: The outcome of the Sand vs. Varga war ultimately depends on who Jack decides to play for. Same with Rogers versus Chaffee.
- Lawman Gone Bad: Jack Boyd just doesn't care as much as he used to.
- Living Emotional Crutch: Lana serves as this to Jack.
- The Main Characters Do Everything: Jack is Police Chief, but also dispatcher, and even goes out to the field sometimes. Justified in that your station is continuously undermanned.
- Mob War: The conflict between Sand and Varga turns into this. Both sides regularly request police support and by supporting one side you can ensure that they win.
- Morton's Fork: Jack gets stabbed with this repeatedly throughout the story.
- The first major choice in the game is whether to take up Kendrick's role as Sand's mole in the force or not. If Jack accepts, he's working for the mob. If Jack refuses, Sand has Kendrick's family decapitated and their severed heads stuck on a chandelier and threatens Jack into working for the mob.
- Initially, the choice between Sand and Varga in their gang war. Supporting either means eliminating one gang but handing the other dominance over the city. However, later in the game you get the opportunity of eliminating the surviving gang through a series of investigations, potentially taking down the whole structure.
- Another, more sadistic choice with no way out presents itself between Rogers and Chaffee in their struggle for power. No matter who you choose, you are leaving an incredibly corrupt man in control of the city, with a lot of crap behind their back which they get away with completely scot-free after they fire Jack from his post, leaving him unable to change anything.
- The mayor plans to replace Jack as Police Chief with one of his relatives, most likely his brother-in-law.
- A local businessman offers to donate enough money to the police department to fund three extra officers but one of the officers must be his useless nephew. You cannot fire the nephew but you can get him to quit after a while. Or have him killed. Or you can give him easy victories by pairing him with good officers and send him to training to make him a decent officer.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: One of the hireable police officers is named Rex Kwan-Do and looks remarkably like Hulk Hogan.
- Non-Standard Game Over: You can get quite a few of these, and since so much is hidden from the player, you can often get blindsided by them. For example, ignore the Mafia's messages on which crimes not to investigate three times, and you end up dead.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: City Hall will cut your funding at the drop of a hat because they feel you're not performing, which in turn will hamper your performance.
- Office Romance: One of the possible events is two of your police officers hooking up and then deciding to quit the job and elope.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: One of the ways to deal with many of the worst criminals is to arrange for other criminals to deal with them. Two of the ways to eliminate Sand is to either let a rival gang deal with him in the gang war or have Eugene Chaffee assassinate him.
- Pedophile Priest: One of the detective cases in the game has you dealing with one. Successfully solving it opens a series of investigations into much larger crimes committed by the Freeburg church.
- Police are Useless: Played with. You start the game with many incompetent cops and you need to find a way to get rid of them so you can replace them with more competent recruits. Even with a competent police force, you will often not have enough officers available to respond to every crime. The mob will also pressure you into ignoring certain crimes.
- Police Brutality: From time to time, city hall will order you to violently suppress a protest organized by an oppressed group. You can send in most of your officers and the SWAT team and order them to beat the protesters.
- Playing Both Sides: During the Mob War you can choose to support both sides and wait till the last day to decide who you want to ultimately win.Jack Boyd: Is this Troy Starr?
Troy Starr: Yes?
Jack Boyd: Go fuck yourself Troy Starr.
- Rape as Drama: Lana was raped by mayor Rogers 4 years before game events. Even worse, she can never hope to bring him to justice for this - even if (big if) she wins, the ordeal will place a stigma of a victim on her, preventing anyone in her chosen field from taking her seriously and effectively ruining her career.
- Reality Ensues: The Game. Do you really think you can ignore the Mafia telling you which crimes you are supposed to let happen? Enjoy some bullets to the head. Do you really believe that after you serve your purpose for a corrupt politician/ambitious businessman with delusions of grandeur he will keep his end of the bargain when you have absolutely zero leverage against him?
- Resignations Not Accepted: The Deputy Chief has been in the mob's pocket for years. When he is forced to resign, the mob refuses to accept the loss of such a valuable asset. If Jack agrees to take over the Deputy Chief's "contract", the guy will be allowed to leave town. Otherwise, he and his family will be murdered as an example to others who have failed the mob.
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: From time to time your cops will just quit on you because they got a better job offer.
- Serial Killer: One of the plot events is the hunt for a serial killer known as the Dentist, who's been eluding federal investigators for many years.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: The whole game. No matter what you do, what choices you make, who you side with, the end is the same - Jack loses his job, off-handedly discarded by either Chaffee or Rogers, fails to reconcile with his wife, fails to make something out of his connection with Lana, is forbidden from entering his favourite club, and fails to change anything in the current corrupt system. He at least gets to keep the money he made for himself but it gives him little consolation as it was never about that money, while everything truly important to Jack was taken from him.
- Shout-Out: Plenty among the names of your recruitable officers. For example, you can recruit an officer named Adam Jensen. Or Sonny Bonds. Or Detective Frank Drebin.
- You may get a call from the Police Academy, which is led by Mr. Lassard (though Paul, not Eric).
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Very, very cynical. No good deed of yours will ever go unpunished, your efforts will be futile, and the few exceptions are ultimately irrelevant.
- Storming the Castle: The final battle has you launch a full scale assault on either City Hall or Chaffee's restaurant depending on whether you sided with Chaffee or Rogers, respectively.
- SWAT Team: As the Police Chief you can deploy SWAT teams to respond to certain crimes. They make for very effective arrests, but won't be enough to stop your first response from dying.
- Ultimate Job Security: A businessman will come forward and give you enough funding for three more officers, provided his incompetent nephew is one of those cops. He cannot be fired, but he can be killed in the line of duty, quit, or eventually gain some kind of professionalism with a patient enough player.
- Uriah Gambit: One way to deal with troublesome employees is to send them to deal with situations they can't handle in the hopes of getting them killed or creating grounds to fire them legally... or you can pay the mob to bump them off for you.
- Vicious Cycle: Complying with the mayor's demands requires you to take police off the beat to work for him. This will cause the department's performance to drop, in turn causing its budget to be slashed. To get your budget raised, you have to keep your performance high... but the mayor still won't comply with your request unless you butter up to him. Buttering him up requires that you comply with his demands, but that runs a heavy risk of worsening your performance again.
- Villain with Good Publicity:
- To the average citizens of Freeburg, Christopher Sand is just a wealthy philanthropist who regularly donates to charity and wants to give back to the community. He even has a stadium named after him. Those in the know know he's much, much worse.
- "Robespierre", a.k.a Eugene Chaffee. With his antics he created himself a public image of a noble but pretty harmless prankster, whose outrageous "thefts" and schemes don't cause any real damage. Even Jack is somewhat charmed by him. When you meet him in person you see a ruthless ambitious power-hungry megalomaniac underneath that facade, whose real crimes far exceed what is known to the public.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Lana and your deputy Stett. At the end of the game you get to find out that Stett was brutally killed, but Lana completely vanishes off the face of the Earth after her last phone call with Jack. If you sided with Chaffee at the end, his letter to Jack mentions her by name as a problem he had to take care of, and thanks Jack for never bringing her up.
- In the sequel we learn exactly why Lana's planned campaign against corruption never got anywhere. Whoever the mayor is in This Is The Police 2, they recorded all of Lana's conversations with Jack, and reveal her not-affair with Jack in the middle of a hearing with all of her peers, humiliating her and getting her dismissed as prosecutor due to her clear conflict of interest being personally involved with the "Caesar of Crime". Disgraced and obsessed with catching Jack to the point of borderline insanity, she tracks him down only to be killed by him when he embraces his corruption.
- Wretched Hive: Freeburg is pretty much equivalent to Gotham in terms of corruption.
- Your Cheating Heart: Jack's wife left him for a man half his age.