Police Corruption: An Analytical Look into Police Ethics

Topics: Crime, Police, Criminal justice Pages: 8 (2906 words) Published: March 16, 2011
Police Corruption
Justin Villeneuve
Nipissing University
CRJS 4917

For years, we have considered any discussions of police misconduct as taboo. After all, these are the men and woman in which we, as citizens, give the responsibility of keeping us out of harms way. We all know it is present within law enforcement in some shape or form, but we ignore its relevance in the way our criminal justice system works. Assumptions of police misconduct and corruption have long been suppressed and silenced through false litigation and system betrayal. The silencing or ignorance of police misconduct acts a strengthening mechanism which those, who engage in this type of behaviour, use as a motivational tool. It is becoming a popular belief that cases of police misconduct are always dismissed due to Charter breaches. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms acts as an umbrella that covers our entire criminal justice system. It is what guaranties us things such as life, liberty, and freedom, and the right to a fair trial. The Charter has often been criticised by certain players within the criminal justice system. It has been labelled as a difficult legislative body that allows criminals to escape the law. It has also been seen as impeding the efficiency of police procedures. In other words, it stops police from doing their job or makes it difficult for them. It is ironic that this entrenched piece of legislation, which is criticised so much by police officers, is often used in order to escape police corruption charges. Former Toronto mayor, John Sewell, in an article on the silencing of police corruption cases, states that “silence means that police corruption in Toronto is a fact that no one in a leadership position can do much about” (Sewell, 2010). In saying this, Sewell expresses his belief that if we do not target the corrupted portion within the police force, police misconduct will solidify its presence in our criminal justice system. Within any police force there is a present discipline built on respect and propriety towards those in command. These elite members within the police force have been placed in an important position in order to present themselves as a leader amongst their counterparts. Each leader forgoes a process in which he becomes “fit” for the position. It comes with experience and knowledge within the field. The importance of a leader, in this environment, is imperative for successively running a team. They take responsibility for the mentoring and teaching of their officers. They also take responsibility for the actions of their officers. It is evident that senior officers will often feel as though the attitudes and beliefs of their juniors should reflect the attitudes and beliefs of those in command (Skolnick, 2002). John Sewell believes that senior officers have long ignored the presence of police corruption. He believes that police corruption is not taken seriously (Sewell, 2010). Sewell makes note of two cases in the Toronto region that draw strong conclusions on how we pursue cases of police corruption. The first case happened eleven years ago. Allegations were made that some Toronto officers were assaulting drug dealers and stealing their money. The RCMP task force, headed by John Neily, documented four reports of internal investigations of John Shertzer and officers working on his drug squad. Neily pointed out twelve rogue officers and recommended that criminal charges be laid against them. After Neily’s report charges were laid on six officers including Shertzer. The other half of the accused were left with no charges. In 2008 a judge dismissed the Shetzer case due to excessive delays that breached their right to a fair trial. All six officers’ charges were stayed. This decision has been appealed by prosecution in hopes of attaining a new trial. The second case on which Sewell makes note of occurred in May of 2004. Four officers were alleged to have demanded and recieved protection money from...

References: Campbell, E, Mahaffy, N, Stewart, D, & Trépanier, M. (2004). Canada’s approach to battling police corruption. Miller Thomson LLP, 1-3.
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, s. 15, Part I of theConstitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982(U.K.), 1982, c.11
Rouben, A. (2009, June). Trial within a reasonable time. Retrieved from
Schuller, R, & Ogloff, J. (2002). Introduction to psychology and law: canadian perspectives. Toronto: University of Toronto press
Sewell, J. (2010, January 11). Swell: silence on police corruption cases. Toronto Star
Skolnick, J. (2002). Corruption and the blue code of silence. Policing corruption: international
perspectives, 300-308.
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