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Police corruption remains one of the worst misconducts within the police fraternity, since time immemorial. In this kind of act, the police misuse their powers to extort financial benefits, to enrich themselves, or to improve their unlawful relationship with wrongdoers through negligence in their roles such as arrests and investigations. These misconducts have gained momentum all over the world and no country or state can claim to have fought this monster (the Free Dictionary, 2012).
In most cases, bribes have been the main binding aspect between the police and law-defaulters although some innocent people have been caught in these malpractices. Regardless of animosities and atrocities committed by the police, some of them have an audacity to falsely accuse innocent citizens of a search of personal gain.
There are various forms of police corruption addressed by this paper, but the most common forms are soliciting or accepting bribes, and flouting the police code of conduct. Police officers are very good at doing this to cover up some evidence or deliberate failure to carry out their normal duties. In all countries that have the police organ, they are supposed to maintain law and order among people. Unfortunately, there have been many police officers under accusation of instigating criminal activities, when they are sometimes involved in organized crimes. This is likely to tarnish their reputation and result in the loss of confidence among citizens. There should be proper measures to avert and minimize the intensity of this misconduct and to ensure justice to all people without discrimination based on false accusations and victimization.
Police corruption has become one of the research items among internal affairs sections in most cities in the United States of America. Thorough investigations regarding this misconduct have been in progress to uncover and spot police officers involved. Different commissions and research groups have done a lot for unveiling police corruption. Some of these groups include the British Independent Police Complaints Commission and the Knapp Commission commissioned to investigate misconducts in the New York City Police Department. Although police corruption is a worldwide problem, the third world countries have topped the lists of countries with the most corrupt police, such as Ukraine, Mexico, Russia, Kenya and India. This study evaluates motives catalyzing corruption incidences among police officers, the extent of police corruption worldwide and possible measures that can minimize widespread police corruption.
The main objective of this study is to investigate police corruption. However, there are specific objectives of this study that include:
For a very successful research paper under this topic, the research is guided by various research questions. Upon answering these research questions, there is a formulation of conclusions and recommendations. The following are the questions that guided this research study:
iii. Who are responsible for the growth and rise of police corruption among the police and civilians?
The research mainly relied on literature-based information from police departments, public commissions, previous researches, previous research surveys and other police publications. Therefore, the main source of information used in this research paper is purely secondary information. The advantage of these secondary sources is that they have been easy to acquire. In addition, they save the researcher from committing much time and incurring high costs of conducting surveys and other primary data collection techniques. Primary data can sometimes prove to be very expensive because of the data collection techniques involved in the process. As a result, the research settled on secondary data because of the limited time and resources allocated to this study.
In any research, there are usually two approaches used by researchers to complete the study successfully. They include quantitative and qualitative research approaches. Applying the quantitative research approach, the researcher utilized measurable variables, whereas the qualitative research approach is the analysis of immeasurable variable. However, in some researches both are used, while others use one of them.
From the literature based on police corruption, it is evident that this misconduct has rooted into police departments. However, the topic remains unexhausted because this misconduct has remained a problem in many countries, especially in the third world countries. Therefore, topics on police corruption have become a research item among human rights groups, activists, researchers, academicians, commissions, law enforcers and governmental security departments. As a result, there is an expanded base of knowledge of causes and prevalence of police corruption. There is a contrast among different researchers on various issues concerning this topic, but this study has been critical in finding differences and similarities among these researchers.
The study involves in-depth literature review from previous literature. Hence, ethical consideration has played a very crucial role. Some issuers include the credibility of information from these sources, the reliability of information in terms of either being outdated or biased. Once this analysis has been completed, the study reveals the inadequacy in some studies because of the failure to fully address the misconduct. Some reports released by different groups have misleading information, whereas others are partial in addressing the police misconduct. Police sympathizers could not fully acknowledge that the police were questionable on this issue, whereas activists and human right groups questioned both civilians and the police for this misconduct. This study tried to address all limitations from other literatures and the latest developments concerning this inhumane crime.
Common corrupt acts committed by the police
This act emanates from the police acceptance to receive free goods and services, such as free drinks, meals and others. This is a driving force for some civilians seeking friend police officers in order to either allow them to commit a crime or to defend criminals after accusations by the public. However, there should be no misconceptions between corrupt motives and generosity because police officers are people as well, who have normal life. Hence, it may be just good faith that police officers receive gifts. In addition, public should not just make conclusions, when the police receive such gifts, because it is likely to create bad reputation for the police without any crime commitment.
This is one of the corrupt acts triggered by the civilians’ quest to access certain privileges. Businesspersons usually make some unlawful payments in order to have a certain business opportunity. This corrupt act of crime is very common among contractors and tow truck operators (Prenzler, 2005).
Once civilians fall under the police officers’ authority, there is a tendency of feeling inferior and frightened at that time. It is very common for arrestees and suspected criminals to be extorted their properties by the police present during an arrest and at a crime scene. Helplessly, these suspects lose their properties, such as jewelries, money, mobile phones and others, giving it to some malicious police officers.
The police are in position to solicit a bribe from civilians in exchange to prevent persuasion of criminal violation. This is not very common instance, but it occasionally happens, when victimized civilians have to bribe their police officers for a crime they have never committed. This is worth doing just to ensure that civilians’ lives are safe from the jeopardy nature. Most civilians try as much as possible to be law-abiding citizens by avoiding face-to-face encountering with police officers. As a result, there are more police officers who are willing to bribe in order to enjoy their freedom.
This is one common corrupt act maximized by police officers to solicit unlawful payments from illegal activities. Both police officers and criminals have a mutual benefit upon the successful completion of illegal activities. Unfortunately, civilians get negative implications either directly or indirectly by this corruption act. A scenario created in this corrupt act is the protection of illegal dealers from law enforcers to create an undisrupted operation of these illegal activities, such as drug-peddling, casinos and brothel businesses.
This corrupt act is equally harmful to the public because police officers collaborate with some accused suspects to undermine court procedures and ethics. The police are accused of perpetrating unlawful acts by withholding some vital evidence in litigation process through taking measures in accordance with court procedures. Some possible things done by these police officers include a failure to appear before the court during a proceeding, withholding evidence and receiving bribes in favor of one of the suspected civilians.
This is the worst of all corrupt acts, which police officers can commit given roles and responsibilities bestowed to them by authorities. They are supposed to maintain law and order to the fullest, but sometimes they are invaded by different intention that makes them forget their roles. As a result, police officers end up being indulged into criminal activities (British Broadcasting Corporation, 2010). It makes it difficult for civilians to get security they require given that there is nobody to direct their sentiments to. This creates an unlawful society with many instances of crimes.
This is very common to law enforcement organizations in regard with prerogatives and perquisites regarding purchases and sales of shifts and holidays. Police officers are likely to order some illegal payments for allowing the completion of such transactions.
Drug dealing remains one of the illegal businesses in many countries. Hence, any organ trying to fight is faced with many difficulties in its attempts. However, dealers may be made a victim of finance extortion by police officers through interference with the evidence presented before the court. The police plant or add false evidence to the already known evidence in order to make a crime more serious than it should be. A dealer remains with no other option than to negotiate with a police officer to reduce the intensity of the crime through bribing.
This occurs within law enforcement bodies, such as the New Jersey State Police Lords of Discipline. Civilians become victims of meaningless persecutions and harassment from law enforcers with an intension to gain from a situation.
The police can sometimes misuse their position to do a favor to some individuals, while tormenting other individuals requiring the same service. For instance, police officers can use their powers to nullify traffic tickets in order to give their career-affiliated friends to gain the same opportunity.
Police corruption and its major causes
There are many difficulties in distinguishing corrupt and non-corrupt activities. If a police officer decides to take an advantage of his power and authority for personal and organizational gains, he is referred to as a corrupt police officer.
Some illegal activities done by corrupt police officials include taking bribes, laundering money and illegally facilitating transfers of confiscated goods, and others. Police corruption became a part and parcel for all police officers as long as the police forces in the United States remained operational. Few individuals being indulged into these activities have triggered the emergence of scandals and defamation of the whole police unit. Unfortunately, we may expect that the lower police officers are ranked, the less there are affected groups, but according to “Go” (2012), even highly ranked police officers actively participate in these malpractices. In fact, they have a tendency of taking bribes from hardened criminals and lowly ranked police officers within a police unit. Sometimes, both lowly ranked and highly ranked police officers gang up to commit an organized crime to innocent civilians. According to “Rampant Investigation Report” (2001), the late 1990s recorded one of the historical police corruption scandals, in which more than 70 officers went behind the bar for the police misconduct. The most confiscated revelation was the involvement of the anti- gang unit of the LAPD Rampart Division in facilitating the rate of this police misconduct. Police officers under this report were accused of the evidence of planting, framing of suspects, carrying out shootings without approvals, withholding and covering evidence, stealing and selling narcotics, and beating innocent civilians. According to Rafael Perez, a police officer, his arrest was genuine as indicated by his statement In May 2001. He publicly confessed as one of the perpetrators of police corruption among 70 officers named in the Rampart Investigation Report. Among these police officers, five of them had their career terminated, seven were reassigned, and 12 of them did not know their future, because they were indefinitely suspended.
The Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct also popularly known as the Fitzgerald Inquiry conducted another study. The commission proposed some prevention measures a critical analysis of the issue of police corruption practices. As a result, two schools of thought were derived concerning measures and strategies to make reforms. Basically, the inquiry schools of thoughts elaborated the nature and causes of police corruption. The two theories derived included a deterrence-based theory that encompassed an “individual" or "rotten apple" theory and a cultural theory also termed as a “cultural" or "socialization"-based theory. These theories have been used by most countries in combating police corruption until nowadays in the implementation of corruption prevention. Still in the development of measures to address prevention of police corruption, the third theory termed as a situational-based theory or an "environmental" or "opportunity" theory have played a very significant role in fighting crimes associated with driving factors to motivate police corruption. However, various studies based on an extensive body of research have established consequences of situational factors of police behavior. This transversed to the recommendation of integration of situational crime prevention to initiatives focusing on reducing corruption in police units. In addition, the research has a question that has sought to evaluate possibilities of situational-based theory utilization in combating police misconducts and corruption.
The prevalence of police corruption will remain very high for many reasons that should be properly addressed. The Rampart Investigation Report reveals that police works were likely to be prone to corruption activities for the following reasons.
First, there has been very little scrutiny of police management and its conduct, especially drug and illegal-related issues left by police investigations and arrests. Some of these issues are very weighty to the public and there should be more caution when handling such commodities so that they are intercepted before they reach common people. However, police officers are known to benefit directly or indirectly from these illegal commodities. To start with, they take advantage of being an investigative team during such crimes. As a result, they are in a better position to extort money from suspected criminals in order for their cases to be terminated through disposal of any evidence against them. On the other hand, police officers end up taking illegal commodities for their personal gains through selling them later or during the court proceeding.
Second, in the third world countries there has been much police corruption because of negligence of security agencies and governmental authorities in addressing salary reviews and the increment for a police officer. Police officers are poorly paid among civil servants regardless of hard tasks they are supposed to carry out in the pursuit of peace prevalence in a country. They are sometimes forced to go to streets during the chaos, responding to insecurity issues, whenever there are crimes committed to civilians, and working in odd hours, namely performing patrols during emergencies. These activities should be highly-awarded, but instead police officers have to persevere under peanut salaries, poor working conditions and poor infrastructures, such as housing and health facilities. Therefore, it is not amazing to see these police officers get indulged in crimes directed to personal gains in terms of money. All these corrupt acts have one motive behind them, that is, to have additional money to their poor salaries.
Another cause of police corruption have emanated from the policing culture that have continually embraced corruption as a tradition. It is very absurd to notice that police officers, who failed to cooperate with others in soliciting bribes and other corrupt acts, are either transferred or falsely accused by other police officers for crimes they have never committed. Once newly recruited police officers report to work, they are given the “rules of the game”, to which they must adhere for survival in the police. It becomes hard for recruits to sacrifice their ego and personality, but they get indulged into these acts to safeguard their positions for their future. Slowly by slowly, we are creating a corrupt police unit, involving all officers from the lowest to highly-ranked. It becomes inadmissible to fight this problem among them because of the fear of victimization. Unfortunately, senior offices have formed a tradition of allocating some of their juniors a task that can benefit seniors through soliciting bribes from civilians. Junior police officers end up in tussles with their seniors for failing to extort enough money from civilians. This intensively drives juniors to activities that are more corrupt in order to meet their bosses’ threshold requirements. As a result, it becomes very hard to fight corruption within a police unit and against civilians because of the culture that has been formed.
Civilians are to take blame for continued police corruption, because in some instances, they fail to raise alarm, when these activities happen. Community policing is one of the major initiatives established by security agencies in the third world countries to motivate civilians to work closely with police officers in fighting crimes within the community. However, civilians may have information about a criminal, who is known to have given bribes to police officers to secure their operational processes. Perhaps, civilians fear victimization by other members of the community, criminals and even the worst happens, when you are arrested for reporting such cases.
There are illegal and much paying unlawful business opportunities, such as brothels, casinos, drug trafficking and peddling. These activities are run by very wealthy people in collaboration with police officers. As long as these activities are active within countries, police corruption will remain at its threshold, because business tycoons and their godfathers within a police unit are likely to run illegal businesses without the fear of warrant of arrest or disruption of their illegal business. Measures to terminate the operation of these malpractices are met with hostility because of the government involvement through intervention of high government officials bribed by these dealers. The collaboration of government officials, such as ministers, for security and defense with drug dealers, makes the latter put off attempts to fight their business (Kratcoski, 2002).
Although the literature has emphasized the rotten apple theory, this theory has some limitations in addressing the cause of police corruption. It is not very clear why police officers are highly-attracted to this vice and not any other workers within the community. However, to some extent this theory can be closely related to the availability of the corrupt culture among police officers that makes it more common among them. We cannot fully quantify that police officers are corrupt, because there is still some other officers, who are honest and committed to their work. If the society continually criticizes these police officers, there is a likelihood to create a very bad reputation among our police officers, who work tirelessly to ensure our security at all times.
There has been a misuse of criminal laws in the United States to enforce immortality. The law is a vital component in any society, but there is a tendency of the misuse of this component by police officers through false accusations and victimizations of innocent civilians. However, there are instances, in which some laws are unenforceable, especially those governing moral standards of citizens. In such cases, financial interest is likely to play a negative role to make civilians offer bribes to undermine the enforcement of such laws (Cliff Notes, 2012).
The prevention of police corruption
Many sources studied during this research reveal the increased index of corrupt activities among police officers. It is clear that there is police corruption in our society. Hence, it cannot be denied at all cost. Strategies to eliminate or terminate the problem can be unachievable, but there are strategies that can reduce corruption among police officers. As a result, the discussion about this subtopic deals much with strategies to reduce police corruption, although some of them can fully terminate the activity, if well implemented.
To start with, police reforms should be given the first priority in the attempt to fight corruption. Some police officers accused of corrupt activities develop this habit after living with civilians for a long time, which make them “friends” after this long period. Not only civilians have chances to come into good terms with police officers, but also with criminals, who utilize such chances to give bribes to police officers in order to feel secure committing crimes to civilians.
Some police reforms should be transfers of these police officers to areas, where they are not familiar with residents in order to work independently without any intervention of other forces. Other reforms should be connected with the refreshment training of police officers, in which they are reminded of their calls to the police force and the way to deal harmoniously with civilians. The mentality of corruption should be addressed, even if it means counseling or rehabilitation of police officers to forget acts.
Secondly, there should be reviews of salary increments and the introduction of rewards to police officers. As discussed above, the salary problem has contributed much to police corruption, in which some get indulged because of temptation to earn quick money. Salaries given to some police officers in these countries are very low. For instance, a case study in Kenya revealed how police officers were poorly paid, had sympathetic living conditions and even their clothing were highly scorched by the sun. To make the matter worse, some of these police officers lacked some important services, such as national medical funds to cater for their hospitalization in the case of sickness. Some of them had saved nothing during their retirement period that made them be chased from governmental houses, because they could not foot rental bills among other payments.
These police officers should be motivated through the increase of their salaries and the introduction of rewards upon registering a commendable job. It is clear that this can work magic, because the police will earn enough money to meet all family and personal requirements reducing probabilities of being indulged into corruption. On the other hand, the introduction of rewards can be a source of motivation to a police officer. The police should focus on the perfection of their duties in an attempt to gain from rewards and other personal gains, such as the promotion from one position to another.
The introduction of anti-corruption body can as well help to reduce the extent of police corruption. This body has a mandate to fight corruption between police officers and the public. In most cases, both police officers and civilians fall victims of soliciting or issuing bribes respectively. Therefore, this body works to prevent civilians from unlawfully offering bribes to police officers in an exchange to cover some evidence to execute them against a crime.
On the other hand, the body investigates corrupt practices among police officers, especially the traffic police and the administration police. The bodies have some detectives, who secretly monitor police activities, whenever there are some suspicious incidences occurring in a unit. This is done sometimes without the knowledge of a suspected criminal and a police officer or sometimes with the knowledge of an innocent civilian and a corrupt officer. An innocent civilian initially reports the suspected organized crime by officers to anti-corruption officers. Then, investigators use cameras and tangible evidence to execute a police officer for demanding a bribe from a citizen. At this point, a police officer cannot deny the accusation given that there is evidence to support allegations.
The law should be very categorical on penalties to impose on the parties involved in a corrupt incidence. It should be impartial on penalties on either a police officer or suspected criminals. Sometimes, laws tend to favor police officers in some countries because of the intervention of other parties in crime, such as partnered-officers and government officials. These corrupt officers are released freely, whereas the accused is executed to jail terms or fines for a crime they committed or both involved with an officer. If there should be any execution of the law, both the police officer and the victimized suspect should be equally executed within the law provisions. If the police are left to be above the law, they may continue getting indulged into this crime without the fear of execution.
There should be heavy penalties imposed on accused suspects and police officers, whenever they are found guilty of the committed crime. In most cases, we have the imposition of cheap fines or several months jail term to corrupt police officers and civilians facilitating corruption, which make it look less serious in fighting corruption. Sometimes, we have charges dropped against the accused parties regardless of solid evidence of the crime. This is likely to undermine the fight against corruption; hence, there should be a step up in penalties for corrupt committed crimes.
For a long time the formation of special investigating commissions has been put into place to mobilize public opinion and to seek to win public involvement in the support for anticorruption and antiviolence reforms. Commissioners have a mandate to investigate some police misconducts from various police departments and to give some recommendations to police reforms after the commission has finished their duty (Cliff Notes, 2012).
Factors undermining the fight against police corruption
One of the major factors undermining the fight against corruption in a police unit is the political interference with some corrupt cases already presented to the court system. There is a tendency to interfere with evidence presented to the court in order to ruin the whole process. In most cases, police officers are just some facilitators of crimes, but there are the main players, who fell on losing end, when such cases enter the litigation process. These dealers are likely to use their authoritative powers to interfere with the whole process to bring a situation, in which the case is immaturely dropped for the lack of sufficient evidence.
According to Andrew (2000), the cause and prevention measures of police corruption activities remains unclear from the two research studies performed by researchers. These studies sought to do investigations on fighting corruption and other misconducts among police officers. They used recommendations contained in the Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct, popularly known as the "Fitzgerald Inquiry.” In this report, police corruption as perceived by the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) in the Queensland Police Service has an unclear definition and conclusions from the already available data. Fighting corruption can be a hard task, because of inadequate information on prevention measures as illustrated by the author. This study strongly believes that the case of police corruption is less and pervasive among junior offices, than the pre-Fitzgerald Inquiry QPS reports. It is impossible to derive the most effective reform components at the stipulated time.
Contrary to this, reforms were lees significant given that their initiations were simultaneous. For instance, the issue of eliminating and reducing negative elements of the police culture has raised such issues in its positive contribution as cultural strategies or one of the deterrence-based strategies on police officers, because this may leave a gap in studying the behavior of police officers. This can be just a shift of focus on bad reputation of a police officer, but not a solution to the problem as earlier intended.
The formation of commissions was a very good idea to address this issue once, but over some time, it turned to be ineffective to the public. The major problem surrounding them was that they disappeared soon after completing their work. They never had time to oversee the implementation of recommendations proposed by commissioners. According to Paul Chevigny, the use of independent auditors was likely to deliver better results than commissions. In his opinion, auditors were capable of investigating more problems surrounding police officers, such as brutality and corruption (Cliff Notes, 2012).
Police corruption is one of the worst committed crimes among police officers and there is very little done to fully terminate the process. This is more of misconduct than a crime, because some motives may not be harmful, whereas others are ill-motivated. However, in both cases this misconduct should be well-addressed in order to search for its cure. It is pathetic to see that the existence of police officers has been viewed as just a way of life among police officers, in which the public have generally accepted the vice.
Police corruption takes different dimensions illustrated by corrupt acts committed by police officers. Some of these acts are triggered by the police themselves, while others are triggered by illegal businesspersons. However, in rare cases, the vice is committed within a police unit between senior and junior police officers. This is the worst, because senior police officers extort through threatening their juniors, who then turn to innocent citizens by accusing them of crimes they have never committed. Innocent civilians are forced to bribe to secure their lives from torments and false allegations when aligned in the court.
The study has acknowledged that police corruption is a hardened crime activity within the police transversed by internal factors, such as the poverty of police officers, the existence of illegal businesses, poor monitoring of police management and civilians contribution to the commitment of crimes.
Strategies to fully eliminate this vice remained an unsolved puzzle, because much has been done to bring down the misconduct but in vain (Syed, 1997). However, some strategies can be implemented to minimize the rate of police corruption. Some of these strategies included performing some police reforms, salary increment, strengthening of anti-corruption body and motivating police officers in their line of duty.
However, political interference remained the main problem facing the fight against corruption. The interference of evidence and the misuse of authoritative powers is a big threat to fight against corruption. The line between corrupt and non-corrupt activities may also hinder this fight, because investigators cannot quickly execute accused officers for some crimes. The lack of clarity within the law governing corruption may also hinder the fight, because these cases are dropped immaturely because of the lack of sufficient evidence to prosecute suspects (Skolnick, 2002).