Paul Angelo Brienza
November 29, 2012
The Costs of Corruption
In today’s society, the amount of crime that occurs can be quite difficult to deal with and responsibility ends up falling on police to curtail it. Unfortunately, the infectious nature of crime often drags these assigned “stoppers” into the same mud that they are trying to prevent others from falling into. When officers abuse their legally sanctioned position of authority, it is known as police corruption. It is a persistent problem that is more significant in a criminal sense than the average person committing a crime because it is happening by a representative/protector of the law. Since police are not judiciaries, they do not determine who is guilty and thus undermine the law system when they do these crimes. Also, it is important to note that police corruption is not the same as an ordinary instance of crime. To elaborate, “Police corruption is an illegal use of organizational power for personal gain. The personal nature of the gain distinguishes corruption from brutality, perjury, illegal search, or any other law violations committed in the pursuit of such legitimate organizational goals as fighting crime. The organizational nature of the power used illegally excludes many crimes committed by policemen, such as burglary committed by a city police officer in his suburban town of residence in which he has no contact with the local police. That particular burglary would be merely a crime. A burglary committed by a police officer in his own police jurisdiction, under the protection of his colleagues or aided by his organizational knowledge of his colleagues’ practices, would be both a crime and an act of police corruption.” (Sherman, 31). As one can see, police corruption is a serious problem as it is almost always involves an associated act of crime. There is no room for this behaviour in fair environments and it cannot occur if society wishes to advance. Ultimately, police corruption cannot coexist with the concept of community policing because it is unethical and morally wrong, it is contrary to Robert Peel’s nine principles of policing and undermines effectiveness, and it offers no sense of accountability to the government and to the public. There is no logical way to justify corrupt actions by the police. Any time it occurs, it involves the “abuse of a legally sanctioned position of authority—in other words, the status of the police officer makes the crime possible. It is this abuse of a ‘sanctioned and sacred’ social position that makes police corruption so dangerous. It is the ultimate social inversion—the cops become criminals. (Police Corruption)” Instead of helping to fight crime, they end up contributing to the problem through means that are only available to them because of their sworn duties as protectors of the community. When corruption is revealed to the public, the police lose the confidence and trust that allows them to function and be legitimate. Corrupt acts are completely immoral as they are motivated by personal gain which demonstrates selfishness and a disregard of the well-being of society. The detrimental aspects of police misconduct cannot be overstated as they immediately threaten the possibility of effective police-community relationships. “In terms of public trust for law enforcement, recent polls show that only 56 percent of people rated the police as having a high or very high ethical standard as compared with 84 percent for nurses. Over the past few decades, great strides have occurred in the law enforcement profession. To begin with, many police agencies have avoided hiring candidates who have low ethical standards and have identified those onboard employees early in their careers who might compromise the department's integrity. In addition, research has discovered new methods of testing candidates for their psychological propensity to act ethically. However, unethical conduct by the...
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