25 Of The Best Songs About The Police, Cops And Law Enforcement

Written by Dan Farrant

Music is one of the best avenues to convey the bravery and dedication of officers in the line of duty. It covers a broad spectrum that shows people’s attitudes toward law enforcement.

It’s no surprise that there are a lot of songs expressing support and admiration for the police. But if there are songs that recognize their service, there are also some that criticize or question them.

Today, let’s go over 25 of the best songs about the police, showing both sides of this profession. Let’s start!

1. “Officer Down” By Hannah Ellis

To start the list, we have “Officer Down” by Hannah Ellis. This is a poignant tribute to law enforcement, particularly to her cousin, Officer Daniel Ellis. He was killed in the line of duty in 2015.

Ellis sings about her loss and pain when her cousin was shot and died two days later. She recalls receiving a call about an officer down and how they prayed it wasn’t Daniel. This is addressed in the line, “And we prayed for a miracle, but you didn’t come back around.”

“Officer Down” is not just about Daniel Ellis. The song brings attention to the risks that the police face while performing their duties.

2. “Mr. Policeman” By Brad Paisley

Everyone is familiar with the cat-and-mouse dynamic often portrayed in movies between police officers and those they chase. Brad Paisley has a song “Mr. Policeman” just about that.

This is a playful song that uses a high-speed chase to create a fun narrative for listeners. The lyrics depict a challenge where the narrator bets that he can drive faster than the officer. The narrator goads the policeman into chasing after him.

While the song is humorous and entertaining, “Mr. Policeman” highlights the dedication of police officers to their duty. It hints at the challenges they face, such as high-speed chases.

3. “Police On My Back” By The Equals

Released in 1967, “Police on My Back” by The Equals captures the feeling of being constantly pursued. This track was featured on the rock band’s album Explosion.

Throughout the song, “Police on My Back” conveys a sense of urgency and adrenaline. The lyrics begin with, “Well I’m running, police on my back / I’ve been hiding, police on my back.” These lines evoke feelings of being on the run, anxiety, and fear.

The lyrics suggest that the narrator is chased by the police for a crime he may or may not have committed. The repeated line “Police on my back” conveys the pressure that the narrator faces.

4. “Used To Be A Cop” By Drive-By Truckers

As the title suggests, Drive-By Truckers‘ “Used to be a Cop” is about someone “kicked off the force.” This track can be found on their album Go-Go Boots.

Lyrically, the song follows the story of a man who was once a police officer. However, he lost his job due to his “temper and the shakes.” He is “too jumpy” and “fidget all the time.”

The song gives us a glimpse of the challenging life of a police officer. He lost not only his job but his wife, car, and house as well. Without these, he feels defeated and lost.

5. “The Weight Of The Badge” By George Strait

Up next is “The Weight of the Badge” by country music singer George Strait. The single was released in 2019 from the album Honky Tonk Time Machine.

Lyrics-wise, the song is a tribute to police officers and first responders. The title refers to the immense responsibility and burden they carry. They swear to “protect and serve” and keep citizens safe. They are willing even to lay their lives on the line.

Despite the weight of their responsibilities, they “ain’t gonna buckle.” This suggests their bravery, honor, and selflessness in enforcing the law.

6. “Cops Shot The Kid” By Nas

The police are not free from criticism. There are issues that continue to taint the profession. “Cops Shot the Kid” by Nas is a commentary on police brutality, especially toward black individuals.

In the lyrics, Nas mentions episodes that depict graphic instances of police violence. He protests against these injustices, emphasizing the harsh realities that some neighborhoods face. He further expresses his thoughts regarding these issues.

In essence, “Cops Shot the Kid” is a reminder of the ongoing struggle against police violence and even discrimination. It serves as both a protest and a call to action.

7. “Baltimore” By Prince

Another protest song on our list is Prince‘s “Baltimore.” He wrote it in response to the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. Gray was a 25-year-old African American man who died of spinal injuries while in police custody.

The song depicts police brutality and systemic injustices that the black communities face. The narrator pleads for peace and understanding while also acknowledging the pain and anger that such incidents cause.

“Baltimore” is also a critique of the police force. It highlights the need for reform and accountability. It also sheds light on the urgency of addressing issues of police brutality and racial profiling.

8. “Highway Patrolman” By Bruce Springsteen

From Bruce Springsteen‘s extensive discography comes “Highway Patrolman.” The narrative follows a highway patrolman named Joe and his relationship with his troublemaking brother, Frankie.

Joe is in a bind as he struggles between upholding his duties as a police officer and protecting his family. Doing his duties becomes more difficult as his brother always gets into trouble. The strong familial bond gets in the way of enforcing the law.

Joe’s dilemma represents what many police officers face. Sometimes, they have to make difficult decisions. This depicts the human side of law enforcement.

9. “Dream Police” By Cheap Trick

When it comes to songs with “police” in the title, let us not forget “Dream Police” by Cheap Trick. The song was released in 1979 from the album of the same name.

“Dream Police” isn’t so much about the police in a literal sense. Rather, it’s a metaphor for the psychological struggles of paranoia and sleeplessness. These internal battles are personified as police officers who invade the narrator’s dreams.

The lyrics depict the narrator’s fear that his dreams are constantly monitored. In fact, he feels as if the “dream police” live inside his head. It drives him insane thinking that they would arrest him.

10. “Stay In The Fight” By Chase Curl

Let’s pay homage to all police officers through Chase Curl‘s “Stay in the Fight.” The song highlights the dedication, sacrifice, and daily challenges that officers face.

The lyrics focus on the risks these officers take to maintain peace and order in society. Just like the rest of us, they have hopes and prayers as they leave their homes for duty. They pray for peace, safety, and comfort.

The song is a testament to the courage and resilience of police officers. Despite the challenges and risks, they “stay in the fight.”

11. “Sleeping With The Telephone” By Reba McEntire

Released in 2007, “Sleeping with the Telephone” is from the perspective of a police officer’s loved one. Here, Reba McEntire narrates the story of a woman married to a man whose job puts him in dangerous situations.

The telephone in the title represents the connection between the woman and her partner. With him away on duty, she can’t sleep and waits for the ring of the telephone for assurance. Despite acknowledging the nature of his work, she can’t stop the anxiety from creeping in.

“Sleeping with the Telephone” reflects what many wives and loved ones go through. They experience fear, uncertainty, and anxiety when law enforcement officers are on the job. The song is a tribute to the sacrifices that the officers and their families make.

12. “If It Wasn’t For The Badge” By Artie Rodriguez

Up next is Artie Rodriguez‘s “If It Wasn’t for the Badge,” a tribute to the men and women of law enforcement. Specifically, this is for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while wearing the badge.

The song focuses on the courage, bravery, and commitment of law enforcement officers. They know the risks and challenges of being one, and they deserve respect and gratitude. The song reminds listeners of the vital role these officers play in maintaining peace and order.

In essence, “If It Wasn’t for the Badge” is a salute to all police officers. It expresses deep appreciation for all that they do in the line of duty.

13. “Be Free” By J. Cole

On August 9, 2014, 18-year-old Michael Brown, a Black teenager, was shot multiple times by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. J. Cole released “Be Free” a few days later in response to the shooting.

The song addresses police brutality and is a plea for freedom from institutionalized racism. The lyrics express frustration and a demand for change. They lament the loss of innocent lives and criticize the system that allows such incidents to happen.

Furthermore, “Be Free” questions the role of the police in protecting citizens. It highlights the fact that, in some cases, they become the source of fear and injustice.

14. “I Shot The Sheriff” By Bob Marley And The Wailers

In 1973, Bob Marley and the Wailers released “I Shot the Sheriff.” Marley wanted to say, “I shot the police,” but feared a backlash from the government, so he changed the lyrics.

The lyrics revolve around the narrator, who’s being hunted down for killing a deputy. People believe he’s guilty of the crime. However, he insists he did not kill any deputy, but he did shoot the sheriff out of self-defense.

In the song, the band uses shooting a sheriff as a metaphor for standing against oppressive forces. The lyrics are considered a critique of law enforcement. They represent the officers as an oppressive system and not as protectors of justice.

15. “Police And Thieves” By Junior Murvin

Up next is the reggae song “Police and Thieves” by Junior Murvin. This politically charged song with “police” in the lyrics dives into themes of gang war and police brutality, particularly in Jamaica.

The lyrics criticize both the police and thieves. They suggest that the police steal from the people. Thieves, meanwhile, exploit the situation so they can commit crimes. The “police” and “thieves” in the title represent Jamaica’s oppressive system.

All in all, “Police and Thieves” highlights the societal issues of the time. It stresses the need for peace and justice amid the violence and corruption.

16. “Call The Police” By G Girls

Some songs that mention “police” are not literally about law enforcement. Take “Call the Police” by G Girls, for instance.

The song uses the term “call the police” as a figure of speech. It suggests that the narrator is having such a good time it could be considered out of control. And so she implores in the chorus, “Somebody better call the police on me.”

At its core, “Call the Police” is a bold anthem celebrating the narrator’s rebellious spirit. It’s all about having fun and enjoying the night partying.

17. “Karma Police” By Radiohead

Another song that literally does not have anything to do with law enforcement is Radiohead‘s “Karma Police.” The police in the title is a metaphorical entity that enforces karma.

The song explores various themes, such as judgment, conformity, and societal pressures. It critiques those who easily judge others while being guilty themselves. In addition, the idea of “karma police” could be considered a warning that there will be retribution for unfair treatment.

Essentially, “Karma Police” uses the idea of police not in the context of law enforcement. Rather, it is a symbol of karmic justice.

18. “Mrs. Officer” By Lil Wayne

The 2008 song “Mrs. Officer” offers a playful and flirtatious atmosphere. Singer-songwriter and rapper Lil Wayne uses the imagery of a female police officer as the central character in a romantic fantasy.

In the lyrics, the narrator recounts how he “got stopped by a lady cop.” He uses wordplay and metaphors related to police terminology to describe their romantic encounters. For instance, he sings, “She got me thinking I can date a cop” and “Maybe you can lock me up and throw away the key.”

It’s important to note that the depiction of police in the song is largely symbolic. The female officer is the object of desire and not a representative of law enforcement.

19. “Jimmy Jazz” By The Clash

From the album London Calling comes the song “Jimmy Jazz.” Here, The Clash is singing about the titular character who’s on the run from the police.

The story is told from the perspective of someone questioned by the police. They are looking for Jimmy Jazz, but it isn’t clear why. The narrative is filled with ambiguity, and the listeners are left to fill in the blanks.

The song does not provide specifics about the relationship between Jimmy Jazz and the police. Rather, it paints a picture of a cat-and-mouse game, with Jimmy Jazz managing to be one step ahead of the authorities.

20. “Love Police” By Phil Collins

Like some of the songs above, “Love Police” by Phil Collins is not directly about police officers. The title serves as a metaphor for a possessive aspect in the dynamic of love and relationships.

The lyrics witness the complexities of romantic relationships. The song talks about a controlling person who exerts her dominance over her partner. The narrator refers to her as the “love police,” suggesting the oppressive nature of their relationship.

Apparently, the narrator is trapped in this kind of love. The song reminds listeners to know the signs of toxic relationships. It also highlights the importance of maintaining independence in a healthy relationship.

21. “Jazz Police” By Leonard Cohen

Yet another song that does not have anything to do with law enforcement is Leonard Cohen‘s “Jazz Police.” The title represents powerful forces that exert control, such as in the realm of music and art.

The song portrays a scenario where these “music wardens” impose their expectations on artists. This often leads to the censorship of individual expression. Thus, the “jazz police” symbolizes intolerance and control.

In addition, the song references America’s traditional ruling class losing control. It suggests that old-guard authorities struggle to maintain their grip on a changing society.

22. “American Skin (41 Shots)” By Bruce Springsteen

For the second time, Bruce Springsteen appears on our list, this time with “American Skin (41 Shots).” He wrote the song based on the police shooting of Amadou Diallo. The “41 shots” in the title refers to the number of times police fired at Diallo.

The song revolves around the tragedy of Diallo’s death. It also explores the fear and tension that sometimes characterizes interactions between law enforcement and people of color.

Despite protests from certain police officers, Springsteen continued to perform this song as a civil rights anthem. It serves as a commentary on police violence and the experience of African Americans with the criminal justice system in the US.

23. “Ridin'” By Chamillionaire

Rapper Chamillionaire addresses racial profiling and police discrimination in “Ridin’.” In addition, it talks about the stereotyping of African Americans, who are often seen driving vehicles laden with drugs and firearms. Hence the term “ridin’ dirty.”

In the lyrics, the narrator laments how he is targeted by police even if he does not engage in illegal activities. It’s simply because of his race and that he drives a nice car. The lyrics highlight the unfairness of racial profiling.

“Ridin'” was a critical and commercial success. It won Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group at the 49th Grammy Awards. Rolling Stone also ranked it third among its 100 Best Songs of 2006.

24. “Riot Van” By Arctic Monkeys

The penultimate song on our list is “Riot Van” by Arctic Monkeys. The title refers to the vehicle the police use to hold several people. Thus, they can make multiple arrests at one time.

The song revolves around a group of unruly young people who taunt the police. When the police observe that they don’t look old enough to drink, the group provokes them. One of them is thrown in the riot van.

At its core, “Riot Van” is a commentary on social structure and power dynamics. It provides a glimpse into how authority responds to reckless youth, raising questions about the effectiveness of such responses.

25. “Laughing Policeman” By Charles Penrose

To end the list, we have “Laughing Policeman” by Charles Penrose. The original version was recorded in 1922. It was a highly successful track and, later on, became popular as a children’s song.

The lyrics follow a humorous story of a policeman. He is notable for his infectious and continuous laughter. He is described as being unable to stop laughing even when on duty. This makes him stand out among the community.

“Laughing Policeman” is mainly for entertainment and is not a social commentary. Its catchy tune and humorous lyrics serve to amuse listeners.

Summing Up Our List Of Police Songs

As the list above shows, the police are vital members of society. Each of the songs offers different perspectives on police and law enforcement, reflecting different societal attitudes.

It’s important to note the good and the bad sides of law enforcement, and music is a powerful vehicle to bring this to public attention. The songs allow artists to voice their perspectives, contributing to conversations about societal issues.

That’s it for now. We hope you liked the compilation. And if you come across more songs that must be on this list, let us know. We will add them for you.

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.