How to Play ‘Good Cop/Bad Cop’ When You Have 3 Cops

Nothing ruins this age-old game like a third cop bumbling into the cell

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(Photo by Rosemary Ketchum from Pexels)

We’ve all been there — engrossed in that cosmic dance between dark and light, that compelling back-and-forth between rabid desk-thumping and getting detainees little cups of water.

Two cops. Doing what cops do. Engaging in cop-play. Copping each other off. Copping all over the detainee. All the other cops copping a perv through the one-way glass.

Two cops, rolling out their divine plays. Playing out their divine roles. Roles that were handed down to them by their fathers, their fathers’ fathers, and all the way back up through the patrilineal dude-tube to Clint Eastwood.

Roles that evolved together in perfect, ecstatic synchronicity, like two impeccably-formed testicles endowing the crotch that is the Department of Justice.

Then a third cop stumbles unwittingly into the cell.

The Balance Is Shattered

Chaos ensues. The players are suddenly jerked out of their rapture and thrown into a crisis of confidence. Once-opened cans of whoop-ass are resealed.

Where previously you had an elegant yin yang situation, you now have two Good Cops and a Bad Cop. Then one of the Good Cops senses the imbalance and jumps compulsively to being a Bad Cop, but the other Good Cop has done the exact same thing and now you have three Bad Cops, which is dangerous because now everyone is trying to get the detainee in a headlock.

All three cops realize this problem at the same time and simultaneously flip to being Good Cops, and now the detainee is being given hundreds of little cups of water.

The good news is that you don’t have to pack up your game and find some real police work to do. Cop a load of these options:

Good Cop/Bad Cop/Avant Garde Cop

Innovation and boundary-pushing is not just for hippie artists — it can work wonders in a law enforcement situation too. Turn a game-spoiling mishap into an opportunity to debut some of those drastic new ideas you’ve been mulling over while polishing your baton.

As Bad Cop expectorates at the detainee about the horrors of prison life, strip down to your g-string and declare the room a republic of its own and your empty trousers its president. This will not upset the balance between good and bad, as the Avant Garde movement frolics in a whole different paradigm. The game can therefore continue unabated, so long as your empty trousers will allow it.

Good Cop/Bad Cop/Tickling Cop

Tickling is equal parts wonderful and torturous, and can deliver a perfect, high-powered dose of both good and bad at the same time so long as the right grade of feather is used. If you stumble into a cell when a game of Good Cop/ Bad Cop is in full swing, rush to the detainee and tickle him under the chin with a medium-loft ostrich feather, thereby saving the interrogation from descending into chaos.

Good Cop/Bad Cop/Police Dog

Police dogs are basically cops that can get away with chasing rabbits on duty. They won’t, however, interfere with the sacred duality of our beloved game. Why not? Because they are already inherently dualistic.

Follow a dog around for a day and notice how people talk to it. One minute it’s “Good boy, Tootles!” and the next it’s “Bad boy, Tootles!” You see? Police dogs are the embodiment of a well-balanced game of Good Cop/Bad Cop. Some departments even swear them in as actual offers of the law. Adding a partially-trained and highly kinetic K9 into the mix will only elevate gameplay.

Good Cop/Bad Cop/Sting

He was a member of “The Police,” but is not a member of the police, so don’t boot him out of the room too quickly. If it looks like it’s going to be a long, drawn-out interrogation involving escalating anticipation and possibly the transcending of spiritual planes before a massive, mind-blowing climax, Sting might just be a good man to keep around.

Good Cop/Bad Cop/Passive-Aggressive Cop

Do you have an evasive, sarcastic, and back-handed colleague in your division? Of course you do! Inviting Ryland into the game could introduce a new dimension without throwing the game into disarray.

It goes like this: Bad Cop makes detainee feel threatened, Good Cop offers gratis liquid refreshments, and Ryland makes detainee feel dead inside without knowing why. Try something like “Hey, it’s great that you’re beginning to identify your failings in life — you’re starting to catch up with the rest of the world.”

Good Cop/Bad Cop/Security Guard

In the cell’s dim lighting you may have mistaken a security guard for a cop. So light a flare and see if his uniform sucks. In the brilliant light of the flare, check the hems and the quality of the cut. How is the fall of the fabric? Is his badge metal or macramé?

Security guards are not real cops. They look a bit like cops, act a bit like cops and love it when people mistake them for cops. They say things like, “Just making a 10–30 to the CHP.” This literally means: “Just making an unnecessary radio call to the California Highway Patrol.” Just ignore that clown and get on with the game.

Let Him Walk

If none of these options are viable, the safest course of action by far is to release the detainee back into the community, no questions asked. You can then grab some crayons and start working on a door sign that says, “Game in progress. Come in if you’re internally dualistic, or a bit kinky.”

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Written by

Robin Hinkley is a musician, teacher and writer from New Zealand. He began his writing career reporting on parliamentary select committee meetings — boring!

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