In years gone by, there were plenty of cops who were as tough as the thugs they faced. An influx of tough men into the Police, was courtesy of the end of World War 2 where men who had fought bloody combat, looked for employment. One of my uncles, nearly in his mid-eighties, remembers some joining the Ellesmere Port force, commenting that they were really tough. As a teenager, he was big and strong and could fight but it appears he came unstuck a couple of times with them. Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Robert Mark, remembered as a uniform constable in Manchester that constables would have stand up fights with local toughs, one on one, and the locals would crowd around to cheer them on.
A particular incident occurred in Liverpool back in the 30`s/40`s, where a young tough challenged a young uniform beat constable to a "straightener", as he was arrested. The officer would not back down to such a challenge, and they went somewhere quiet, where the constable removed his jacket, telling him "I'm not in uniform now" and then proceeded to hammer him senseless. The unfortunate thug had to be carried away, unconscious, by his friends. Threats like this and violent attacks were commonplace on officers.
A rather extreme example of cops dishing out to tearaways, a brand of their own medicine, was carried out in New York City by a beat cop. This cop was one of the toughest men in the force, and he did not like the local punks causing crime and trouble on HIS beat. Every time some crime or complaint was registered on his beat, he would line up all the punks, walk down the line giving each one a punch or thump with his truncheon, repeatedly saying, "You don`t do this on my beat!" Nobody dared to do or say anything as he would have killed somebody without the slightest hesitation. Eventually, he had the most crime free beat in New York, which brought him to the attention of the Mob. He was hired as a personal bodyguard by a ranking Mob member. This happened back in the early to mid thirties. There is not much chance of that happening today.