Narrative Injustice – How “Coptalk” Can Shift the Narrative and Make You Look Guilty

Posted by Peter ChambersAug 24, 2020

In today's media-saturated landscape, one thing has become increasingly clear: the media has a cop bias problem. Specifically, criminal or unjust activity practiced or perpetuated by the police frequently gets ignored, smoothed over, or falsely reported by the media at large. This phenomenon is often called “Coptalk”. You've probably heard it before, like in the example where a Florida trooped raped a 14-year old girl… but the media reported it with more neutral language.

Coptalk is dangerous because it allows the police to shift the narrative of a criminal case before it has gone to trial. More than that, it allows guilty or bad cops to get away with behavior that's clearly criminal itself.

Understanding the dangers of how the police can shift a narrative against you is crucial if you're ever accused of a crime. It can also help you defend yourself against it. In most cases, a criminal defense attorney can help clear your name, even if the media turns against you.

What is “Coptalk?”

Coptalk is an unofficial term for the way that police officers and pro-police media will often spin events and unjust activity to make the involved police officers seem innocent or, at worst, as victims, even if they're the criminals in a case. The term itself may not be very well known, but Coptalk has been around for generations, as has the police's tendency to restate events to make themselves look better.

How Can Police and the Media Make You Seem Guilty Just Through Word Choice?

Here's a basic example: say that you get involved in an altercation with your neighbor, but the police officer who arrives on the scene is agitated and shoots you both when things don't calm down. The resulting news stories as a result of "Coptalk” might say something like:

“Quarreling neighbors injured in officer-related shooting”

Officer-related shooting? If this seems wrong or downright false, you're not alone. But because it's technically the truth, journalists are allowed to print this kind of stuff all the time.

In doing so, police are protected because “officer-related shooting” sounds a lot less anti-cop than, “Cop shot two neighbors he was supposed to help”, which would be a more accurate version of events.

As you can imagine, having the story come out this way immediately puts the blame on the hypothetical victim in this story: you. As anyone who's ever been accused of a crime can tell you, the court of public opinion is fast, relentless, and absolutely unrepenting.

Coptalk can be incredibly harmful to those accused of a crime, or anyone involved in any police action, because it warps the narrative and creates a false story that is difficult to overcome alone.

How Can You Protect Yourself from Coptalk

This isn't to say that Coptalk is completely dominating and that there's no defense from the media's tendency to be pro-police, even in the face of overwhelming evidence otherwise. For starters, modern racial sensibilities have made it clear that Coptalk only goes so far. In fact, in instances where police injure or kill an African-American citizen, the media is arguably more likely to go the other way around.

But for average folks, the best defense against Coptalk is to simply refuse to give a statement to the press. Instead, arming yourself with a great defense lawyer and refusing to speak to any law enforcement officers without legal counsel present will go a long way toward limiting the police's ability to tell the story they want to tell in lieu of the truth.

Maintain your innocence when pressed. Don't deviate from the true recollection of events. The good news, in the long run, is that truth usually does win out.

Why You Need a California Criminal Defense Attorney

A California criminal defense attorney is your best bet for recompense and security, and for protection from unjust charges or Coptalk-influenced narratives.

Say that you had a run-in with a police officer and they did something completely illegal. Maybe they broke into your house without a warrant or injured you while you were following orders. Although the Coptalk narrative might immediately start painting the officer as the victim, a great California criminal defense lawyer can spin these unjust practices in your favor and help secure your freedom.

The Law Office of Peter James Chamber is ready and willing to help with your criminal defense case right away. He specializes in the areas of domestic violence, DUI/DWI, restraining orders, vehicular crimes, and more. Contact him today for a free evaluation of your case!