Written By: Sara Jaigobin
Copaganda can be defined as propaganda released by police or sheriff’s departments which present a “rosy” view of what police work entails and painting those in the force with a positive exterior. Though it has existed for ages, the term copaganda has recently regained its notoriety and come to light more during the recent events in which have been taking place around the world, primarily in the United States. Protests have quickly spread across the country in order to seek justice for the Black community and its people who have fallen victim to police brutality. Police brutality has been a recurring and severe issue around the world, and black individuals have constantly been victims of it. However, with the murder of George Floyd on May 25th at the hands of the police, many have realized how pressing of an issue police brutality really is. As these protests continued, recent examples of copaganda began to fill news channels and newspapers, painting cops in a positive light and thus bringing the term to a forefront. Copaganda also exists in other forms of media such as television shows, literature and films as well.
There is no definite date as to when copaganda first began, however, it has been a recurring theme throughout history. During the war, militarism was an ideology that was heavily pushed onto citizens in which the government made it appear to seem necessary and a positive idea which would be crucial in protecting the country and it’s citizens. Examples of this would include posters in which would be put up, encouraging citizens to enlist into the military in order to fight for their country or just spreading the idea that the military is something to be prideful of and deserves support. Though this is not directly copaganda, elements of the notion that is copaganda have definitely derived from the pre-existing military propaganda. The idea for military propaganda was to push the military into an efficacious view which is identical to what is being done with the police force in modern society.
The entire concept of copaganda, as previously mentioned, exists in an abundance of media structures, some of which you may not be aware of. A prime example of copaganda in television shows would be the NBC sitcom, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The NBC show centered around a precinct of detectives has received a plethora of praise over the years for its diversity and humorous demeanour. Nonetheless, the show works to present the idea of these cops and detectives it follows, in a congenial light. Even though some may argue that it is just a show and not reality, it still offers the idea to viewers, making them believe that perhaps all cops aren’t bad, regardless of the show’s fictional nature. It makes them seem good and heroic to viewers, further influencing them to believe so about officers around the world.
In terms of modern society which we’ve briefly mentioned, copaganda has once again become a prominent use of influence and weaponry amongst the country. As protests and even riots spread from state to state, and even country to country, the severity of copaganda has increased. Stories of officers who had been sent to “contain” protesters have reached the media, which instead of doing what they had been tasked to do, they had decided to get down on their knees in front of protesters. There had been images that have surfaced of protesters embracing officers, and even officers protesting alongside them. Though at first glance this may not appear as copaganda to viewers, it most definitely is. By doing so, these images reach news outlets, pushing the idea that not all cops are bad because they stand with Black Lives Matter protesters/activists. However, that is far from the case because the minute in which these individuals choose to become part of an inherently racist system, they begin to contribute to the problem. Then, from there on, the forms of copaganda only increased, moving onto the concept of paid actors under the topic umbrella. Paid actors, especially in light of current events, are individuals–– mostly black individuals–– who are paid to usually partake in images taken alongside cops in which demonstrates the false notion of allyship between the two.
In conclusion, copaganda is a form of propaganda used in order to influence viewers into the glorification of the police force. It is used to push the ideology that not all cops are bad and some are, in fact, satisfactory. It has been a form of weaponry for decades, using the media to push false narratives and its severity has only increased as time continued. Through recent events such as Black Lives Matter activism, it has come forward as a primary source of artillery via the media and is something that we all need to be educated on, in order to not fall prey to it.