50 Police Quotes For Redefining Law Enforcement

Learn something new about law enforcement with our police quotes!

Policing is an ancient practice. 

It encompasses many areas, but it is primarily the maintenance and enforcement of law and order by a police force, of the agreed regulations of society

Check out these policing facts: 

  • United States policing history has a complicated past
  • There are over 17,000 police agencies in the United States
  • Some of the oldest forms of policing and security come from Egypt, circa 3000 BC

Navigating a challenging conversation 

Discussing potentially triggering, polarizing, and challenging topics is necessary to talk about the evolution of law enforcement. 

However, for our society to evolve, we must be able to engage in challenging dialogue. 

Why such different views on police?

Careers reflect society, so every profession has terrific people and people who perform poorly. 

As an educator, I work with fellow teachers who are excellent at their jobs. 

I also work with other educators who perform poorly and misuse their power. 

I know there are fantastic police officers. 

Two of my closest friends are police officers. 

I watch them wear their uniforms and do their jobs diligently every day despite toxic, racist, and misogynistic cultures in precincts. 

I know these two dedicated public servants risk their lives daily for their community, and I must balance this idea with the constant barrage of police brutality we see and my own experiences of corrupt policing. 

Policing is a nuanced subject requiring open minds and hearts to discuss. 

To produce the best society possible, we must be at peace with constructive criticism and be willing to make changes when necessary. 

An untold and unspoken history

Opposite things exist simultaneously every day. 

Outstanding and dedicated police can exist despite some of policing’s dark history. 

Many of today’s modern policing policies can be traced back to slave patrol laws and practices. 

Slave patrols originated in North Carolina to hunt down and pursue enslaved Africans who sought freedom from the chattel slave system. 

Their tactics included harassment, brutal violence, and excessive use of force to discourage runaways and encourage desired slave behavior. 

So what happened to the slave patrollers?

Slave patrolling was a popular industry with many workers. 

After the Civil War and the passing of the 13th Amendment, slavery in the United States ended. 

The country was full of jobless slave patrol officers. 

To keep these men employed, slave patrollers were replaced with militia-style groups empowered to control or deny rights to formerly enslaved people. 

Their badges were proverbially and literally melted down and reformed into official badges of the law. 

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This is how many of the country’s first sheriff and police departments originated.

While today’s police are not necessarily all directly linked to slave patrols, there are many who feel policing policies reflect systemic racial bias. 

To learn more check out our police quotes below. 

Short police quotes about protecting and serving

Let’s start with these short quotes about the duty of police officers. 

1. “Police do not belong in war zones.” — Daniel Keys Moran

2. “Military police is very timely for our army.” — Vladimir Zhirinovsky

3. “Even the police have an unlisted number.” — Morey Amsterdam

4. “We need to police ourselves in the media.” — Bob Woodward

5. “The Thought Police: To censor and protect.” — Craig Reucassel

6. “I play bad golf for good charities like the LA Police.” — Robert Stack

7. “The police are the public, and the public are the police.” — Robert Peel

8. “Who will protect the public when the police violate the law?” — Ramsey Clark

9. “In keeping people straight, principle is not as powerful as a policeman.” — Abel Hermant

10. “However low a man sinks, he never reaches the level of the police.” — Quentin Crisp

The top police quotes about criminals and order

Here are some more interesting observations about policing. 

11. “We’re not anti-police. We’re anti-police brutality.” — Al Sharpton

12. “The police must obey the law while enforcing the law.” — Earl Warren

13. “The art of the police is not to see what it is useless that it should see.” — Napoleon Bonaparte

14. “The police belongs to the people, and the people belong to the police.” — Todor Zhivkov

15. “I’ve never had a problem with drugs. I’ve had problems with the police.” — Keith Richards

16. “The police are not here to create disorder; they’re here to preserve disorder.” — Richard J. Daley

17. “There’s only two people in your life you should lie to the police and your girlfriend.” — Jack Nicholson

18. “We don’t give our criminals much punishment, but we sure give ’em plenty of publicity.” — Will Rogers

19. “A police force, wherever they are, is made up of amazing people, and I respect them a great deal.” — Nancy McKeon

20. “When truth is no longer free, freedom is no longer real: the truths of the police are the truths of today.” — Jacques Prevert

The best police quotes for public servants

21. “Radical conservatives want to police bedrooms.” — Robert Reich

22. “Well, I grew up in England, and I was in the London police.” — Tony Greig

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23. “Indiscriminate firing by police on people is absolute barbarism.” — Sheikh Hasina

24. “I’ve always had a natural fear of the police, or abuse of their power” — Terrence Howard

25. “They need 30 police escorts with them every time they walk down the street.” — Suge Knight

26. “If the police ever try to pick me up, Michael Jackson told me I can hide out at his house.” — Gilbert Gottfried

27. “The real evil of the Russian communist state is not communism. It is the secret police and the concentration camp.” — John Boyd Orr

28. “I haven’t reported my missing credit card to the police because whoever stole it is spending less than my wife.” — Ilie Nastase

29. “Don’t denounce our pain as savage. What’s savage is the cruel inhumanity and brutality of the police. Condemn that.” — Amandla Stenberg

30. “As a child, I’ve always been in trouble with men, and the police have always had to get involved, through no fault of my own.” — Katie Price

Police quotes and sayings to live by

Here are some interesting quotes about policing and society. 

31. “The police are the public, and the public are the police.” — Robert Peel

32. “No police or military in the world can protect people who are cowards.” — Mahatma Gandhi

33. “My father was a sergeant with the Connecticut state police. My mother was a hairstylist.” — Michael Bergin

34. “There is insufficient support for the police and safety and law enforcement, in general, in the city council.” — Steve Chabot

35. “I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.” — William S. Burroughs

36. “Society questions the police and their methods, and the police say: ‘Do you want the criminals off the street or not?’” — Kurt Russell

37. “My heroes are those who risk their lives every day to protect our world and make it a better place; police, firefighters, and members of our armed forces.” — Sidney Sheldon

38. “Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust and only secondarily on institutions such as courts of justice and police.” — Albert Einstein

39. “Clearly it is better that, when someone is wanted by the international police, and this person travels, and a country knows about it, that country reports the fact.” — Ricardo Lagos

40. “The police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.” — Robert Peel

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Famous police quotes about citizens and anarchy

We close our list with these interesting quotes about policing. 

41. “I’m not against the police; I’m just afraid of them.” — Alfred Hitchcock

42. “Most of the Kyiv police have now pledged their support for the people.” — Bob Schaffer

43. “That’s libertarians for you; anarchists who want police protection from their slaves.” — Kim Stanley Robinson

44. “There are not enough jails, not enough police, not enough courts to enforce a law not supported by the people.” — Hubert H. Humphrey

45. “Along the borders to Ethiopia and Somalia, anarchy reigns, the police and military have retreated quite some distance.” — Richard Leakey

46. “The police cannot protect the citizen at this stage of our development, and they cannot even protect themselves in many cases.” — Jeff Cooper

47. “Police arrested two kids yesterday; one was drinking battery acid, the other was eating fireworks. They charged one and let the other one off.” — Tommy Cooper

48. “When you have police officers who abuse citizens, you erode public confidence in law enforcement. That makes the job of good police officers unsafe.” — Mary Frances Berry

49. “I went to Zimbabwe. I know how white people feel in America now; relaxed! Cause when I heard the police car, I knew they weren’t coming after me!” — Richard Pryor

50. “A parent being called to the school because their child had misbehaved was as serious as a parent being called to the police station because their child had robbed a bank.” — Martin Lewis Perl

We all benefit from healing

James Baldwin is recognized as one of the most brilliant minds American culture has ever produced. 

Regarding the police, he once said the following: 

“He may be a very nice man. But I haven’t got the time to figure that out. All I know is he’s got a uniform and a gun, and I have to relate to him that way. That’s the only way to relate to him because one of us may have to die.” 

Unfortunately, we have a lot of work to repair the damage caused by racist and unfair police tactics. 

Let’s continue to work hard to create a world where experiences like the ones described by James Baldwin are a thing of the past. 

What is your favorite police quote?

Be sure to let us know in the comments below. 

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