Issues Surrounding Police Deviant Behavior

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The behavior of police officers is governed by a number of sources, including state and federal laws, departmental policies, code of conducts, social norms, and personal beliefs. According to Swope (2001), “an officer's behavior is influenced more directly by the actions or lack of actions in response to ethical shortcomings of his superiors than by the stated directives or written ethical code of an organization.” Every citizen expects the police officers to uphold the laws, and perform their duties honestly, impartially, and fairly. However, there are a few police officers fail to fulfill their duties because they have no clear-cut choices of sources for guidance in making their decisions. Consequently, they engage in deviance when they try to solve their problems and deal with criminals or suspected criminals in a personal way. Deviant behavior includes all behaviors that violate the social norms and values. It can be criminal or non-criminal and “committed during the course of normal work activities or committed under the guise of police officer’s authority” (Barker & Carter, 1994; Gaines & Kappeler, 2008, p. 369). There are six issues associated with deviant behavior of police officers: alcohol and drug abuse, sexual misconduct, police sexual violence, stacking-up and jacking-up charges, gratuities, and goldbricking (2008:38). Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Alcohol and drug abuse is a serious issue in law enforcement because many officers use alcohol or drug to get high or to relieve the stress from the job. While moderate and responsible use of alcohol and prescription drugs is acceptable, alcohol and drug abuse is illegal and unethical. It belongs in the category of deviant behavior, and violators will be punished; therefore, abusers and other officers are reluctant to report the problem to higher authority. For that reason, the exact number of police officers who abuse alcohol and drug is unknown. Alcohol or drug abuse can jeopardize police officers’ careers, health, and safety, as well as the safety and well-being of those around them. According to Champion and Hooper (2003), alcohol is the number one contributing factor in more than half of police suicides (p.306). Excessive use of alcohol or drug will affect officers’ judgment, and lead them to commit illegal activities such as domestic violence, assaults, and driving a vehicle while intoxicated. Gaines and Kappeler (2008) provide the following example of alcohol abuse, which leads to illegal behavior: An Arkansas sheriff with a history of working under the influence of alcohol was alleged to have assaulted a prisoner arrested by one of his deputies. Jimmie Lee Mosier was arrested by an Ashley County deputy and taken to the county jail. Without provocation, Mosier was beaten and choked at the jail by Sheriff James Robinson, who has been drinking. Testimony offered during a lawsuit filed against the sheriff revealed that he had a history of performing his official duties while under the influence of alcohol, including driving his patrol car and becoming involved in a traffic accident (p. 384; Mosier v. Robinson, 1989). Many police departments have adopted a "zero tolerance" policy for on-duty intoxication and illegal drug use. Police departments have created employee assistance program and alcohol rehabilitation clinic to help officers who have abused alcohol or drug, but not involving in any disciplinary problems (Violanti, 1999). The goals of a police agency employee assistance program include “to help protect employees and the public from injuries and mishaps related to intoxicated employees, to guard against economic loss and legal liabilities, to create an environment that discourages the abuse and misuse of chemical substances, and to provide a mechanism for the recovery and rehabilitation of an affected employee” (Raterman (2000). The purpose of alcohol or drug rehabilitation clinic is to provide medical treatment as well as psychotherapeutic...
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