Corruption is the ultimate betrayal
by the perpetrator toward a person or an organization. It’s a sign of distrust,
selfishness, and unloyalty. Corruption is a venom or cancer that can spread
around and consume the vulnerable. Yet, it commonly occurs all around the world
in businesses, organizations, and departments. Corruption destroys
partnerships, friendships, and trust among organizations, and has even affected
people of prestige such as law enforcement officers. Incidents have occurred in
which police departments became plagued with corruption and the citizens suffered
the consequences. Corruption is explained as, “the product of a few aberrant
individuals who ignore organizational structures and codes, and who’s sole
purpose is to benefit the individual” (Kalinich, Klofas, & Stan Stojkovic, 2015). There are many
kinds of misconduct and corruption that have occurred in police departments
such as; gratuities, professional courtesy, on-duty use of drugs or alcohol,
graft, and sexual misconduct (Pollock, 2014).
are “items of value received by an individual because of their role or position”
(Pollock, 2014), and are likely to be accepted by individuals
who possess some form of authority or leadership role in society. For example,
law enforcement officers who have authority and are seen as heroes are
susceptible to gratuities. However, gratuities have been left to individual
interpretation. Some police officers don’t view gratuities as corruption nor a
sign of misconduct. Richard Kania (1988), explains that gratuities are good for
police officer and public relations, and a part of community-oriented policing.
When the giver and taker have an understanding that the gratuity is a reward
for past services rendered then there is no harm, as long as the both parties
involved don’t expect special treatment or future services. The argument made
against gratuities is that it can become a pathway to serious forms of
misconduct and corruption. Gratuities give the public an image of police
officers as corrupt and may cause more harm than good for police and community
more serious type of misconduct is offering professional courtesy to coworkers.
Examples of offering professional courtesy are things like refusing to write a
coworker a speeding ticket, not arresting an off-duty officer who is driving
under the influence, or taking lightly a coworker’s domestic violence
allegations. Professional courtesy is view as a form of misconduct because
police officers took an oath to defend and enforce the laws equally. When
professional courtesy takes place, favoritism and special treatment is rendered
unethically. Professional courtesy is derived from discretion awarded to police
officer which gives them the opportunity to pick and choose when to enforce the
laws. Law enforcement officers are held to a higher standard both on and off
duty, and must always remain ethical and not create problems for the department
or communities they serve. Professional courtesy brings a negative look on
police departments and the officers who serve the department.
and alcohol use while on duty is not only dangerous, it is also frown upon and
may lead to legal and criminal problems. Police officers are hire to arrest
drug sellers and users, and to stop people from driving under the influence of
alcohol. It would be dishonorable for police officers to use drugs on or off
duty, or to drink alcoholic beverages while wearing their police uniform. Not
only does it look bad, it also becomes a hazard. Police officers must remain
vigilant and be ready for any issues that arise. However, if an officer is
intoxicated, the results may be disastrous for the officer, the public, and the
suspect. Most drug and alcohol use by police officers is the element of police
work such as undercover work which impels officers to engage in drug use to
remain undercover. Nonetheless, drug use is still illegal no matter the circumstance,
so the question becomes, why are officers who engage in drug use to remain
undercover above the law? The answer is that nobody is above the law and police
officers should be subject to disciplinary actions. In a research of drug use,
it was reported that 20 percent of officers in a particular city reported to
have used marijuana while on duty, and an additional study found that the
officers used the drug to relieve stress and for social reasons (Pollock, 2014).
serious forms of corruption in a police department are accepting bribes or
protection money known as graft. Bribery was rated the second most serious
offense by police officers in the United States (Pollock, 2014), and it can be in many different forms.
Bribes can be in the form of “kickbacks from tow truck drivers, defense
attorneys, or bail bond companies for recommending them” (Pollock, 2014). Accepting any type of bribe is
corruption and is one of the most unethical behavior that a police officer can
portray. In addition, bribery is seen as the negative side effect of police
officers accepting gratuities. It is said that gratuities promote bribery,
officers usually start off by accepting gratuities and eventually escalate to
accepting valuables or money. However, not all cases of police officers who
accept gratuities are destine to accept bribery. Only a handful of police
officers give in to accepting bribes, nonetheless, the whole department is
scrutinized when news breaks out.
more egregious form of police corruption in a department is sexual misconduct.
In past occasions, police officers have used their power of authority to extort
sex from suspects (Pollock, 2014). However, male police officers were
solely responsible for sexual misconduct, not many cases have surface in which
the role is reversed and female police officers extort sex from male suspects. Women
police officers are also subject to sexual harassment from male coworkers or
bosses. A study done in 2010, resulted in 75 percent of female officers saying
that they had been sexually harassed by a coworker, however, only 2 percent were
reported (Pollock, 2014). The highest number of complaints were
on jails and prisons where correctional staff took advantage of female inmates.
Furthermore, police officers on the road are not immune to sexual harassment
allegations given that even the most innocent gesture such as, a police officer
asking a woman he has stopped for a date is seen as misuse of power and
coercion (Pollock, 2014).
the film Miami River Cops (2010), it was evident that police corruption was taking
place. It started in the spring of 1980, when Cuban president Fidel Castro
allowed thousands of political refuges to seek asylum in foreign countries.
Immigrants entered the coast of Miami by the thousands and posed a threat to
security. Local police departments were overwhelmed with the rising crimes that
Cuban criminals brought. In a desperate move, police departments hired over 400
new cadets in three years. The cadets that were hired were not the most
outstanding citizens, in the contrary, they were borderline acceptable with
problemed backgrounds. The results were that some police officers engage in
theft, and murder. Ring leader Marco Rivera set up several drugs bust of
cocaine traffickers and rip them off. The drugs were then given to club owners
who sold and shared the profit with police officers. After years of
investigations, 17 police officers were convicted of drug rip-offs. As a
result, Miami police departments created internal investigations unit to target
over 100 additional officers accused of corruption. To prevent or minimized the
corruption that took place in Miami, police departments should have conducted
background checks and more stringent hiring requirements. Officials should have
also closely monitored the officers and their practices, and instead of hiring
quantity, the departments should have hired quality.
is deemed the ultimate betrayal and anyone can be consumed by it, even the most
prestigious group of people such as police officers. The different types of
police corruption discussed were gratuities, professional courtesy, on-duty
drug and alcohol use, graft, and sexual misconduct. As the film Miami River
Cops discussed, police officers are not immune to corruption. Furthermore, when
a scandal breaks out and officers are involved, an entire department suffers
the loss. Most corruption cases start with small inoffensive gestures such as
gratuities and have a potential of escalating into bribes, thefts, and murder.
Corruption is not centered in the United States, it has been reported in police
departments worldwide. No matter where corruption occurs, the corrupt officer’s
ultimate goal is to gain personal benefits such as valuables and money.
Corruption also embodies other forms of misconduct such as abuse of power by
police officers. The two terms that describe the level of corruptions are grass
eaters, the officers who accept bribes and gratuities, and meat eaters which
are officers that are more engaged in deviant behavior such as shakedowns and
burglary (Pollock, 2014). Police officers are a sign of
authority and protection and it is for that reason that they are held to a
higher standard than citizens. In order to remain in compliance with police department
policies, the officers must remain ethical and choose to make the right decisions
at all times and refrain from engaging in corruption.