The Irish-American cop: a stereotype embedded in American law enforcement folklore.
There was a time when employment in municipal police departments didn’t offer the benefits, pay, and promise of career advancement like today. You got that job because it was a job and you just needed to put food on the table.
There was no romantic tradition of the police that many wanted to follow. Being a cop was what you had to do to survive.
Enter the mass Irish migration to America’s northeast. Police work became a career field that many fell into out of necessity, and it stuck. Generation after generation of Irish and Irish-Americans flooded into police departments as they increasingly professionalized themselves, especially in cities like New York—the definitive prototype for the American cop.
When you have a dominant ethnic group in any type of job field, their cultural traditions will impact the culture of that particular work. There’s a reason why Amazing Grace has been the staple song for fallen police in America. It was born from the Irish.
We’re a land rich with cultural diversity. Every police department in America is—or, at the very least, should be—a reflection of the local population. There are a large amount of Cuban-American cops in Miami. Go to Minnesota and chances are your local PD will have a lot of names that end with “son” or “gard,” a glimpse into the large Norwegian-American presence. San Antonio has a lot of Mexican-American cops, Boston a lot of Irish-American cops, San Francisco a lot of Chinese-American cops, Atlanta a lot of African-American cops, and so on.
But as they always say, every American has some Irish in them on St. Patrick’s Day. The American police officer has a little in them, as well.
From the fine folks @ RangerUp!