Soapy encounters police officers more than any other members of New York City society in “The Cop and the Anthem.” Though they are never given names, the police officers in the story act as social gatekeepers and form a collective antagonist for Soapy, as he needs them to arrest him in order to make it to Blackwell’s Island. The police refuse to do so until the very end of the story, when Soapy ironically no longer desires to be arrested at all after hearing the anthem at the church. Throughout the story, police officers repeatedly misidentify Soapy, ignore his crimes, and mischaracterize his place within society. In many ways, the police in O. Henry’s story symbolize American society’s relationship to its homeless and criminal populations. When Soapy shatters a storefront window with a brick in an attempt to get arrested, one police officer “refuse[s] to accept Soapy even as a clue,” suggesting that Soapy is invisible to the police at times and he is only a criminal when the police see him as such. When Soapy shouts at a police officer and tries to get arrested for disorderly conduct, another policeman misidentifies him as a Yale student, once again determining how Soapy is viewed by the rest of the characters in the story. When Soapy does earnestly change his hopes and dreams at the end of the story and vow to turn his life around, the police once again fail to recognize their stake in derailing Soapy’s aspirations.