A newspaper ran this headline today:

Police crack down on IAC protesters.

Isn't the following more appropriate?

Police cracks down on IAC protesters.

  • 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 '14 at 22:02

According to ODO:

Definition of police


[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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