Cop Culture: Why Good Cops Go Bad, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Cop Culture

Why Good Cops Go Bad, 1st Edition

By L. Scott Silverii, PhD

CRC Press

293 pages | 13 B/W Illus.

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Sworn to protect and serve,police officers who stray into deviant behavior may become a citizen’s worst nightmare. A thoughtful examination of the formal and informal process of becoming blue, Cop Culture: Why Good Cops Go Bad is a unique combination of academic research based on Chief Scott Silverii’s doctoral dissertation and more than two decades in law enforcement. The book seeks to answer the ultimate question: why do good cops become bad cops?

Demonstrating the highly seductive and overwhelmingly influential culture of policing, the book presents interviews and observations by officers from across the country that explore how individuals may devolve into an aberrant subcultural fraternity. Chief Silverii explains the damaging effects upon the officers’ personal lives as they segregate from social and moral anchors and attach themselves to a lifestyle that may eventually bump up to criminality. Against the backdrop of the principles for organizational theory, acculturation, occupational socialization, and group culture, practical examples from real-life officers explain abstract ideals such as the "thin blue line" and the "code of silence."

This book is the first of its kind to combine an anthropological ethnography examining policing’s cultural expectancies with real-life experiences. By exploring the subculture of policing in vivid detail, it exposes the causes behind the separation from organizational ideals and a false status of detrimental hegemonic entitlement. Chief Silverii’s covert participant observations, semi-structured interviews, meta-analysis of relevant literature, and personal experiences provide readers with a scintillating panorama of this pervasive, destructive process. Chief Silverii also offers practical, proven solutions for creating a culture of change based on accountable, productive public service.

Chief Silverii was interviewed in January 2014 by TV station WAFB in Thibodaux, Louisiana.

Table of Contents

The Blue Line Mystique

Special Operations Groups

Studying a Secret Culture

History of Policing in America

Occupational Socialization

Why Cops Quit

Antidiversity in the Ranks

Police Culture

State-Sponsored Violence

Policing the Police

Cop Culture and OMC

Driving Drunk behind the Badge

Silent Suffering

Investigative Strategies

Just the Facts

Hating Others

Final Shades of Blue

Final Verdict

Igniting Change


Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

What Should Chiefs Be Thinking About?



About the Author

Chief of Police Scott Silverii, Ph.D., has spent over two decades in policing—16 years in special operations groups (SOG) conducting undercover narcotics and SWAT missions. He attended the University of Southern Mississippi and then completed his bachelor’s degree from Nicholls State University. He earned a Master of Public Administration and a Ph.D. in Urban Studies (Anthropology) from the University of New Orleans, Louisiana. Research for his doctoral dissertation, "A Darker Shade of Blue: From Public Servant to Professional Deviant," forms the core for this book, and is supplemented by the thousands of miles traveled across country for interviews, observations, and fellowship. He combines these experiences with academic research to bring the most honest, accurate, and compelling details of what life is like behind the thin blue line.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
COMPUTERS / Security / General
LAW / Criminal Law / General
LAW / Forensic Science