Corruption in Law Enforcement

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Police corruption is the simple product of Marxian theory. In this case the means of production are simply the power that people of the law possess and their ability to bend it to suit their own selfish desires. The cause is our cash driven society that inspires greed even in the hearts of those who are supposed to protect us. Civilians and law enforcement officers alike will continue to be effected by this problem. Since its beginnings, many aspects of policing have changed; one aspect that has remained relatively unchanged is the existence of corruption. If you take a look in a local newspaper it is likely that you will find an article about a police officer that has been arrested for committing some kind of corrupt act. Officers have been stealing money from dealers and distributing drugs themselves. They are protected, hiding behind their brass badges that they proudly display. The way to solve this problem comes from either Weber’s ideal system of nobility or Durkheimian theory where corruption would be intolerable and quickly unveiled from the inside. The people of the community are responsible for bringing about these kinds of changes in our society. Only with a system that awards bravery and honor will police officers be turned away from a life of corruption.

Like it or not, power tends to lead to corruption. Why is it that people find themselves placing officers of the law high up on alters as superhuman? It’s no surprise that people are often shocked and outraged when policemen are exposed violating the law. The truth is that police are human and just as susceptible to greed and evil as anyone else. The term corruption simply refers to the use of authority by a police officer to fulfill personal needs or wants. There are 3 simple criteria for a “corrupt act” which must all happen simultaneously: 1) misuse of authority, 2) misuse of official capacity, and 3) misuse of personal attainment. (Dantzker,1995: p157)

Essentially, police corruption falls into two major categories-- external corruption which concerns police contacts with the public, and internal corruption, which involves the relationships among policemen within the works of the police department. The external corruption generally consists of one or more of the following activities: 1) Payoffs to police by essentially non criminal elements who fail to comply with stringent statutes or city ordinances; (for example, individuals who repeatedly violate traffic laws). 2) Payoffs to police by individuals who continually violate the law as a method of making money (for example, prostitutes, narcotics addicts and pushers, & professional burglars). 3) "Clean Graft" where money is paid to police for services, or where courtesy discounts are given as a matter of course to the police. "Police officers have been involved in activities such as extortion of money and/or narcotics from narcotics violators in order to avoid arrest; they have accepted bribes; they have sold narcotics. They have known of narcotics violations and have failed to take proper enforcement action. They have entered into personal associations with narcotics criminals and in some cases have used narcotics. They have given false testimony in court in order to obtain dismissal of the charges against a defendant." (Sherman 1978: p 129)

When cities enlarge their police forces quickly in response to public fears about crime, it can also mean an influx of younger and less well suited officers. That was a major reason for the enormous corruption scandal that hit Miami in the mid-1980s, when about 10% of the city's police were either jailed, fired or disciplined in connection with a scheme in which officers robbed and sometimes killed cocaine smugglers on the Miami River, then resold the drugs. Many of those involved had been hired when the department had beefed up quickly after the 1980 riots and the Mariel boatlift. "We didn't get the quality of officers we should have,'' says department...
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