Police Corruption

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  • Topic: Police, Constable, Police brutality
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  • Published : September 3, 2005
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"Analysis of Police Corruption"

Police corruption is a complex phenomenon, which does not
readily submit to simple analysis. It is a problem that has and will continue to affect us all, whether we are civilians or law enforcement officers. Since its beginnings, may aspects of policing have changed; however, one aspect that has remained relatively unchanged is the existence of corruption. An examination of a local newspaper or any police-related publication on any given day will have an article about a police officer that got busted committing some kind of corrupt act. Police corruption has increased dramatically with the illegal cocaine trade, with officers acting alone or in-groups to steal money from dealers or distribute cocaine themselves. Large groups of corrupt police have been caught in New York, New Orleans, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles.

Methodology: Corruption within police departments falls into 2 basic categories, which are external corruption and internal corruption. In this report I will concentrate only on external corruption because it has been the larger center of attention recently. I have decided to include the fairly recent accounts of corruption from a few major cities, mainly New York, because that is where I have lived for the past 22 years. I compiled my information from numerous articles written in the New York Times over the last 5 years. My definitional infornmation and background data came from various books cited that have been written on the issue of police corruption. Those books helped me create a basis of just what the different types of corruption and deviances are, as well as how and why corruption happens. The books were filled with useful insite but were not update enough, so I relied on the newspaper articles to provide me with the current, and regional information that was needed to complete this report. In simple terms, corruption in policing is usually viewed as the misuse of authority by a police officer acting offically to fulfill personal needs or wants. For a corrupt act to occure, three distinct elements of police corruption must be present simultaneously: 1) missuse of authority, 2) missuse of official capacity, and 3) missuse of personal attainment. (Dantzker, 1995: p 157) It can be said that power inevitably tends to corrupt, and it is yet to be recongnized that, while there is no reason to suppose that policemen as individuals are any less fallible than other members of society, people are often shocked and outraged when policemen are exposed violating the law. The reason is simple. There diviance elicits a special feeling of betrayal. "Most studies support the view that corruption is endemic, if not universal, in police departments. The danger of corruption for police, and this is that it may invert the formal goals of the organization and may lead to "the use of organizational power to encourage and create crime rather than to deter it" (Sherman 1978: p 31) General police deviance can include brutality, discrimination, sexual harassment, intimidation, and illicit use of weapons. However it is not particularly obvious where brutality, discrimination, and misconduct end and corruption begin. 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 concists of one ore 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, inviduals 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 pusshers, & professional burglars). 3) "Clean Graft" where money is...
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