Why is it harder to complain against a police officer (let alone prosecute) than it is to complain against a civilian (for the same crime)?

If a civilian so much as yells at me, I can call 911 and an officer (or more) will wake him up and question him.

If a police officer does the same (yelling or using foul language) or detains/arrests me for no justifiable reason, there is no one that I can call that would look at the body cam and do something about it. The only option I'd have is a lenghty complicated process that is bound to put many obstacles in front of me along the way.

  1. The complaint would have to be filed with the same people I am complaining against (someone within the PD) which is counter intuitive. (and gives rise to conflicts of interest).
  2. The complaint has to be in writing with my physical address (which is not very easy when you are away from home, if you don't have an address or if you want to keep it hidden from the accused officer ).

I received the following from a PD in Texas.

... I am sending you a complaint from attached to this email. This from has to be filled out if you want an investigation conducted on a police officer as required by Texas Govt. Code as listed below. Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 507, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2005.


Sec. 614.022. COMPLAINT TO BE IN WRITING AND SIGNED BY COMPLAINANT. To be considered by the head of a state agency or by the head of a fire department or local law enforcement agency, the complaint must be: (1) in writing; and (2) signed by the person making the complaint. "

Is there really a difference between classes? If there is, can we still talk about an impartial legal system?

  • 2
    I don't understand what the question is. You make a bunch of unsupported assertions, and if we disregard them, then there's nothing left. Try reframing the question so that it's about some legal fact, like "is there a special law making it a crime to falsely accuse a police officer of a crime, which does not also to falsely accusing a citizen of a crime?". Or whatever information about law you are looking for.
    – user6726
    Nov 20, 2018 at 6:03
  • 1
    Speaking loudly or "yelling" at someone is not generally a crime. Foul language is likely to be in bad taste, unprofessional and so on, but that is unlikely to be unlawful. It's also not clear that you could demand to look at the body cam of an officer. If I yell at you, for example, you have no right to demand that I give you footage from my phone, which also has a camera.
    – Brandin
    Nov 20, 2018 at 8:46

1 Answer 1


Any society that makes rules will make rules that generally favor the people in power.

Police are an essential component of a system that is built to maintain power for the people who are powerful, and there are few incentives for politicians, prosecutors or judges to punish them for maintaining order, even when they do so in ways that most people would think are not civil.

Anyone involved in creating the law therefore builds systems to protect themselves -- and each other -- from accountability. The police fail to meaningfully investigate themselves, the legislature erects barriers to accountability (Sec. 614.022, for instance), and the courts routinely provide them immunity for their wrongdoing.

So yes, there is a difference in how our legal system treats law enforcement and how it treats everyone else. I don't know anyone with any experience in the law who would even try to pretend otherwise.

  • There has to be some kind of immunity or elevated privilege for those in power, otherwise they will fear to do their job. For example if an officer were tried for murder every time one shot at and killed a suspect, the officer may think "well, I'll let this play out because I don't want to be on trial". The officer needs to be able to have immunity to make those decisions to protect the public more than themselves.
    – Ron Beyer
    Nov 20, 2018 at 15:47
  • 2
    Isn't it strange that the medical profession continues to exist in the absence of these protections?
    – bdb484
    Nov 20, 2018 at 15:56

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