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A newspaper ran this headline today:

Police crack down on IAC protesters.

Isn't the following more appropriate?

Police cracks down on IAC protesters.

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closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, JLG, Gnawme, Bravo, Will Hunting Aug 27 '12 at 6:52

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
It takes a plural verb: macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/police –  JLG Aug 27 '12 at 4:19
    
Whyever would it take a singular verb? It is not just one police who is doing the cracking down. It’s the police force in general who are doing it. –  tchrist Aug 27 '12 at 4:29
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Government cracks down on IAC protesters. As a Brit, I don' mind that "newspaper headline" using singular or plural verb with government. But police can only be plural to me. I'm not sure why. –  FumbleFingers Aug 27 '12 at 4:40
    
@FumbleFingers: To me too. I suppose it's because the police are only ever perceived as police men and women and not as an abstract whole. –  Barrie England Aug 27 '12 at 6:40
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@painfulenglish: I'm not familiar with that usage (The Wire is an American show), so it sounds decidedly "odd" to me. But possibly in the minds of those who use it, it's a gender-neutral alternative to policeman/policewomen, in which case it has no bearing on the Police cracks down on IAC protesters suggestion above. Don't forget that TV shows are not above making up non-standard usages that are easily understood, purely to give the impression they're giving you a "glimpse behind the scenes" (even a cop can't be sure they don't use the term in other police forces). –  FumbleFingers Nov 10 at 22:02

1 Answer 1

According to ODO:

Definition of police

noun

[treated as plural] (usually the police)

the civil force of a state, responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the maintenance of public order:

local people have lost faith in the police

Unlike (FF's) government which can be treated as singular or plural, police is treated as plural.

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