Essay on Police Corruption

The primary objectives of police are to honor and safeguard property and life, protect the rights and freedoms of every person in the jurisdiction of the state, and maintain security and peace. To attain the goals, the police must interact with the observers and society to accomplish law as stated by the constitution of the United States of America. The interaction between the police and society should be guided by professional and ethical principles that promote the effective development of police work. However, police face a challenge in upholding commitment and integrity to maintain the credibility deposited by the citizens. They eventually violate work ethics, which negatively affects the public perception of security. Police participation in corruption affects their image and loses citizens” trust in their duties.

Police corruption is the primary threat to security organizations since it relates to work ethics. The root of police corruption is that individuals or organizations bribe the police to work in their favor in secrecy (Rosen & Kassab, 2019). These acts create a feeling of fear and insecurity among citizens and disrupt the moral principles and the institutional image of the police. Police corruption affects individual rights, public order, and crime control.

Effects of police corruption on individual rights and due process

According to the Human Rights Committee, it is the right of every individual to be treated equally without discrimination (Tankebe, 2010). In a court of law, the defendant has the right to prove innocence through a criminal trial and due prose. However, when police corruption is involved, individual law is violated, and due process is interrupted to favor the corrupt. Police corruption intrinsically excludes, distinguishes, and restricts fairness and equality. It nullifies and impairs the equal recognition exercise and enjoyment of human rights (Tankebe, 2010).

The right to be treated equally is among the significant human rights in all human rights treaties. Despite your race, ethnicity, sex, or gender, everyone should be treated equally by the state. Being corrupt is discriminatory and against the set laws and work ethics of police. Being corrupt police nullifies and impairs all people’s enjoyment, recognition, and exercise on an equal and fair footing of individual rights and freedom (Schmalleger, 2010). Therefore, it is considered an abuse of power for personal gain and to violate the law and judge in favor of the corrupt.

For instance, when the police are bribed to cover a murder case for an individual, the solid, legally obtained evidence to prove someone was killed in cold blood is likely to disappear in favor of the corrupt person, mostly the suspect. When such incidents happen, someone’s right to a fair trial and the rule of law is violated. The effects of breaching such rights are particularly grave when the target individual comes from a marginalized group such as irregular immigrants, indigenous groups, social minorities, or sexual minorities (Tankebe, 2010). The due process will have been disrupted, and faulty judgment will be made in favor of the guilty. An innocent person is likely to go to jail and suffer disproportionately from such incidences of human rights violations because their position in the corrupt society makes them vulnerable targets of corruption, and they cannot afford the cost of bribing.

Effects of police corruption on public order and crime control

The impacts of police corruption on public order and crime control are far-reaching. Having a corrupt police department compromises law’s order and basic function, making the punishment and prevention of law violation and human rights challenging to the state (Schmalleger, 2010). Corrupt police cause public mistrust of the police, making it hard to be trusted by the public and complex for them to perform their duties effectively, preventing crimes and offering protection to human rights. The institutional legitimacy and integrity of the police department are also at stake when the policing system becomes corrupt (Schmalleger, 2010). Therefore, for the public to respect the law and honor police services, there needs to be profound confidence that the police are following the law and that, whenever applying the law, they treat everyone equally as per the law and the demands of their work ethics. Failure to adhere to the law and participating in corruption will cause an increase in crime rates and weaken the ethical standards of the community and policing system. Suppose the public will perceive the policing system as the one breaking the law, and they are benefiting from the corrupt acts (Schmalleger, 2010). In that case, they are likely to lower their moral standards and be more willing to participate in criminal behaviors.

The quality of police service offered to society is also directly proportional to the number of street crimes. A corrupt police officer is equal to an absent police officer from work (Bayley & Perito, 2011). The quality of services offered by corrupt police officers is poor. A corrupt officer works for money, not to honor the work ethics and duty. Therefore, whenever a crime happens, and they are bribed, they will directly or indirectly serve in favor of those who have given a bribe. They will subtract evidence from the crime scene and omit critical information for the prosecution of the offender. Such actions give criminals the freedom to commit more crimes as long as they have enough resources to bribe the police and serve in their favor. Corrupt police will bargain with criminals, accept gratuities, take kickbacks, and fix traffic tickets to permit vices such as prostitution, gambling, illegal drinking, and the use of drugs in society (Rosen & Kassab, 2019). Such actions will cause an increase in crime rates within society and undermine public confidence in the police, harm police morale, undermine police discipline, and destroy respect for the law (Schmalleger, 2010). Therefore, an increase in police corruption increases the rate of crimes.

Controlling police corruption

Several analysts have warned that despite the many strategies used to curb police corruption, nothing has proven to be effective enough to curb police corruption (Rosen & Kassab, 2019). Police corruption is a complex problem in the United States, and therefore, it needs multi-faceted solutions. Although not all police are corrupt, most of them are corrupt. Therefore, most of these strategies for controlling police corruption should start with the social and political realities and the characteristic of the local police instead of implementing a “one size fits all” approach (Schmalleger, 2010). Strategies such as political and leadership will can play a significant role in eradicating police corruption. Although the political will is not hundred percent perfect, it is necessary to make a struggle to eradicate some police behaviors. It is a long-term approach that can significantly help contain and reduce corruption among police. According to Punch (2000), leadership and political will can be a successful struggle in eradicating some instances of police misconduct since it is an ongoing approach. Establishing a political will is a reliable strategy in police reforms since fighting corruption may challenge powerful vested interests that are likely to resist reforms. The political will strategy has proven to be reliable in Hong Kong and Singapore due to the strong political will of their leaders in reducing police corruption.

Article 18 of the United States Constitution states that public servants are responsible for any break of law or breach of the constitution if they ignore their duty or overstep their function (Punch, 2000). Similarly, the current Judicial Code states that every public servant who, in their line of duty, discovers that a crime has been committed in their area of operation they are supposed to provide every relevant data that is denounced and conducive to the appropriate authority, for the prosecution of the offender(s) (Punch, 2000). Police are this category of public servants, and therefore, they are expected to report to the corresponding authority or superiors any information regarding lawbreakers. They should also report their workmates who participate in a criminal offense or violate any of the provisions in the Code of Ethics.

Legislators should also reevaluate laws that create loopholes for police misconduct. The reassessments should be based on the recognition that the primary portion of police misconduct is promoted by laws that illegalize prostitution, the use of illegal drugs, and gambling (Punch, 2000). Therefore, legislators should decriminalize victimless crimes by legalizing and regulating them. Police corruption is a crime. Accordingly, corrupt police officers should be prosecuted. The United States government should promote the anti-corruption campaign through a culture of transparency and integrity against corruption in the public sector.

Police should adhere to their duties of maintaining law and order and stop accepting bribes and rewards regarding how they will operate. They should always adhere to the Code of Ethics and work according to what has been established by law. Any police misconduct should be met with strict punishment to enhance the making of objective decisions based on the code of conduct, ethics, and law.

Bayley, D. H., & Perito, R. (2011).  Police Corruption : U.S. Institute of Peace.

Punch, M. (2000). Police corruption and its prevention.  European journal on criminal policy and research,  8(3), 301-324.

Rosen, J. D., & Kassab, H. S. (2019). The fragile States, Corruption, and Crime. In  Drugs, Gangs, and Violence  (pp. 37-56). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Schmalleger, F. (2010).  Criminal justice: A brief introduction . Pearson/Prentice Hall

Tankebe, J. (2010). Public confidence in the police: Testing the effects of public experiences of police corruption in the U.S.  The British Journal of Criminology , 50(2), 296-319.

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The Police Culture and Corruption Essay

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Is Giving Others the Questions on The Exam an Ethical Violation?

Seven types of corruption noted in the text (35-36), when whistle blowing is ethically justified, a real-life example of direct criminal activities, theory behind the idea that a corrupt officer will grow more corrupt.

The militarization and the use of force by police came under intense public scrutiny when a black male was shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson, MO, in 2014 (p. 28). This sparked heated debate among the general public, decision-makers, and academics. Goal misalignment between the community and police occurred as a result of militarized police starting to view themselves as armies battling on the front lines of war instead as public servants.

Giving other students exam questions is unethical because it gives those students an unfair edge over the other pupils. The test’s results wouldn’t accurately represent the students’ actual skills. It is not always immoral to become knowledgeable about interview questions when it comes to sharing police interview questions. However, it is not favorable to the interviewee and may even work against them because it may be perceived as unethical and cheating because it violates standards of fairness and candor.

  • Opportunistic theft
  • Protection of illegal activities
  • The traffic fix
  • The misdemeanor fix
  • Direct criminal activities

Bowie contends that there is a moral case for whistleblowing when a number of circumstances have been shown (p. 48). The ethical duty to behave responsibly and take responsibility for one’s conduct, including disclosing misconduct in the best interests of the firm and its stakeholders, should always take precedence over loyalty. When they feel that keeping quiet will cause the whistle-blower more harm than benefit, law-abiding people blow the whistle.

When a police officer steals from a suspect, victim, or corpse, then that is an instance of direct criminal activity (p. 36). Examples include stealing personal items from a corpse at a crime scene or taking drugs for private use during a drug bust.

The “slippery slope” theory postulates those dishonest people who work in enforcement agencies are more likely to commit crimes in the future. According to the “slippery slope” idea, permitting police to take gratuities of any kind exposes them to corruption. A police recruit’s work environment was a source of temptation (p. 41).

Police ethics: The nature of policing and police corruption. pp. 17-54

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Essay on Police Corruption

Students are often asked to write an essay on Police Corruption in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Police Corruption

What is police corruption.

Police corruption is when police officers do not follow the law. They may take bribes, ignore crimes, or even commit crimes themselves. This is wrong because police are supposed to protect people and make sure everyone follows the rules.

Types of Corruption

Effects on society.

When police are corrupt, people stop trusting them. This makes it hard for good officers to do their jobs. It also means that some people might not get help when they need it because they are afraid of the police.

Fighting Corruption

To fight corruption, police departments need strict rules and to check on their officers. People should also be able to report bad officers without being scared. This can help make sure that only good officers are working to keep people safe.

250 Words Essay on Police Corruption

There are many ways police can be corrupt. Some take money to look the other way when a crime happens. Others might use their badge to scare people and get what they want. Some even steal from the police station or lie in court.

When police are corrupt, it makes people scared and less likely to ask for help when they need it. It can also make crime worse because criminals think they can get away with more. Everyone suffers when the people who should protect us are not honest.

To fight corruption, police departments need strict rules and to check on their officers. They should also teach officers about being honest and fair. If an officer is caught being corrupt, they should be punished to show that it is not okay.

Police corruption is a serious issue that can damage society. It is important to have good police officers who do their job well and help keep everyone safe. By working together, we can help stop corruption and make sure police are trusted by the people they serve.

500 Words Essay on Police Corruption

Understanding police corruption.

Police corruption refers to the misuse of police authority for personal gain. This problem can hurt the trust that people have in the police. When officers act in corrupt ways, they break the law instead of upholding it, which is their main job. Corruption can take many forms, such as taking bribes, helping criminals, or using their power to harm others unfairly.

Types of Police Corruption

Causes of corruption.

Corruption can happen for several reasons. Sometimes, police are not paid well, so they might take bribes to make more money. In other cases, there might not be enough rules or checks to stop corrupt behavior. If police officers see other officers being corrupt and not getting caught, they might think it is okay to do the same. Also, in some places, criminal groups are very powerful and can threaten or bribe the police.

Effects of Corruption

When police are corrupt, people suffer. Trust in the police fades, and people might not ask for help when they need it. Crime can increase because criminals are not stopped or punished. Honest police officers might feel unsafe or unwilling to do their job. In the long run, corruption can make the whole society less safe and fair.

Fighting Police Corruption

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essays on police corruption


Police corruption essay.

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Historically, police corruption has been a persisting, serious, and in some cases pervasive feature of police services. Corruption can be seen as a kind of occupational hazard for police, with the nature of police work offering an unusually large number of opportunities for corrupt behavior. Moreover, features of police organization have acted to undermine the disposition to decline such opportunities. Reducing police corruption requires the development of integrity systems for police services, which function to minimize the attractiveness of corrupt behavior and reinforce and develop the disposition to act in a morally upright manner.

Defining Police Corruption

Corruption is a process of subversion or corrosion of a noncorrupt, pure, or ideal state of affairs. “Police corruption,” then, refers in the first instance to acts which undermine the proper functioning of a police service (and perhaps more broadly of the criminal justice system) and, derivatively, of the moral character of the police who engage in it.

While there are broadly accepted paradigm cases of police corruption, such as accepting bribes for overlooking criminal behavior, or even engaging in such behavior, there is less consensus about how to define police corruption. Accounts of police corruption tend to splinter along two lines. First, there are differences about the role of police, and hence of the ideal that provides the contrast against which police corruption is identified. Those differences stem from the wide range of activities that police engage in—from collecting fees on behalf of government departments, and informing people of the death of a family member in an accident, to arresting suspected criminals and testifying in court—and the variety of purposes they appear to have in doing so—including enforcing the law, saving lives, maintaining social calm, and protecting people’s rights. Some theories of policing argue that the primary function of police is to enforce the law; others that it is to protect rights; others again that it is to use force, or the threat of force, to deal with emergencies that no one else can handle. Since different theories of policing give different accounts of what an ideal police service looks like, they will also differ, at least to some extent, about what counts as police corruption. Nevertheless, while not all theories hold that the defining purpose of policing is the enforcement of law, there is general agreement that police, at least in legitimate states, are servants of the law, and that behavior that conflicts with that role is, at least potentially, corrupt.

Second, there are disagreements about what might be called the scope of police corruption. Not every act that detracts from the effective functioning of a police service counts as police corruption. For example, an ill-advised decision by police management to make use of the (in itself legitimate) strategy of saturation policing in a crime-ridden area exacerbates existing antagonism toward police by racial minorities, leading to riots and greater lawlessness. The decision makes the police service less effective than it should have been, but it is not an instance of corruption. It is necessary, then, to find a definition of police corruption which is not unduly broad.

In a relatively narrow construal, police corruption simply consists of misuse by police of their position to gain personal advantage. This construal still allows for differences about which behaviors are corrupt. Some who hold this view consider that unlawful or unethical behavior should only be considered corrupt if it is motivated by the desire for personal gain, whether or not a benefit is actually received; others think that corrupt activity is identified by its outcome— corrupt activity produces a private benefit for a police officer (or is a kind of activity that tends to produce such an outcome). There are also differences about what kind of benefit counts: for some, it is money or money’s worth (such as free food or liquor); for others it may also be other kinds of goods, such as career advancement.

Clearly, many egregious instances of police corruption do involve police acting for personal advantage, and application of the personal advantage approach will identify many, at least, of the paradigm cases of police corruption. However, this approach does not accommodate the phenomenon of “noble cause” corruption. Noble cause corruption is the use of illegal and immoral means by police, such as planting evidence, “verballing” suspects (putting incriminating words in their mouths during interrogation), or perjury, with the aim of achieving what the police involved regard as a just outcome, such as the otherwise unlikely conviction of a person who has committed a serious crime. Since noble cause corruption involves police deliberately breaking the law it surely counts as police corruption, though by definition it is not motivated by, and need not produce, personal benefit.

An alternative, broader approach understands corruption generally, and police corruption in particular, as what might be called a moralized causal concept. Police corruption is behavior that corrodes, or has the tendency to corrode, a properly functioning police service, and for which the police officer(s) responsible can properly be blamed (i.e., where they knew, or should have known, that it was likely to have this effect.) This approach, like the narrower approach, will identify police acting for personal advantage as instances of police corruption. But it can also see other kinds of behavior by police, including noble cause corruption, as forms of police corruption. An advantage of the causal approach is its flexibility in determining what counts as police corruption. In one social setting, for instance, acceptance by police of small gratuities from shopkeepers, such as food and drink, may compromise their willingness to take action when the shopkeepers break the law and so will count as corrupt. In another setting, where there are different norms governing such interactions, and a more morally robust police service, acceptance of gratuities may have no such compromising effect and so will not count as corrupt.

Incidence and Effects

Most police corruption is covert, or at least shielded from official scrutiny. Those who are complicit in it, such as criminals bribing police, have no motive to report it, and those who are victimized by it—the targets of “shakedowns” or brutality—are often too inarticulate or intimidated to file complaints. Even when complaints are made, they are difficult to substantiate, often involving the word of the complainant against that of the police officer they are complaining about, and police complaints systems themselves are often less than ideal. For reasons such as these, it is impossible to know exactly how common police corruption actually is. Moreover, the extent of corruption clearly varies considerably across different settings. In some Indian police services, for example, corruption appears to be virtually universal, with bribery a precondition for police attention; in totalitarian states the police are part of the repressive structure that keeps the regime in power and, using a broad understanding of police corruption, much of their official activity is corrupt in nature.

Even if police corruption does not reach these levels in generally orderly liberal democracies such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, there is good evidence that it is nevertheless disturbingly common. Indications of its prevalence are given in the reports of important inquiries into police behavior, typically prompted by a pubic scandal, such as the Knapp (1970) and Mollen (1992) Commission inquiries into the New York City Police Department, the Christopher Commission (1991) into the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Wood Royal Commission (1995) into the New South Wales Police Service. Each report details widespread corruption, ranging from acceptance of small bribes to overlook illegal activity such as bookmaking, to active—and, in some units, widespread—involvement in serious criminal behavior such as drug dealing, assault, and theft. Other sources of information about police corruption include complaints against police, especially those that are substantiated, and surveys and interviews with police, defendants, and members of the public.

While every occupation may have corrupt practitioners, police corruption is particularly damaging. It is a significant factor in miscarriages of justice, leading to conviction of the innocent and acquittal or nonprosecution of criminals. It can directly contribute to criminal activity by enabling criminals to carry out their activities without fear of discovery or prosecution, or even by police themselves engaging in such activities. It contributes to criminal activity indirectly by subverting the trust between community and police, which is a necessary condition for effective policing, and by creating a more disorderly society in which it is harder for police to carry out their function. It imposes real financial burdens on the community through the cost of increased crime and crime prevention measures, as well as litigation and public inquiries. And, of course, corrupt police themselves, many of whom were morally upright at the start of their careers, can pay a significant price in psychological disturbance and, where their corruption is discovered, social disgrace and legal penalty.

Causes of Corruption

In order to address police corruption, it is necessary to understand its causes. At the highest level of generality, corruption results from the interaction of a disposition to act corruptly with a tempting opportunity to do so—that is, one where the perceived benefits consequent on a corrupt action are much greater than the perceived potential costs.

Most people are neither moral saints, who will do right come what may, nor moral monsters, who will do wrong whenever they judge it is in their interests to do so. Individuals are, at least up to a point, motivated to follow the dictates of morality but subject to temptations that, if strong enough, can lead them astray. Presumably, police as a group are not radically different in this respect than the rest of people. Indeed, many recruits are motivated to join the service at least in part by a morally admirable desire to serve their community. The prevalence of police corruption reflects the fact that police are both likely to have many tempting opportunities to act corruptly and subject to a range of factors that undermine their capacity to recognize and resist corrupting temptations.

There are a number of reasons why police are likely to face opportunities to act corruptly. Much police work involves a high level of operational autonomy, with a good deal of discretion as to how it is to be carried out, and little direct oversight. This lack of oversight allows police to avoid what people could think of as the costs of police work. After all, a lot of conscientious police work is unpleasant—dangerous, or tedious, or time-consuming. The temptation to take shortcuts to avoid these costs, or to seek benefits to offset them, is considerable. Moreover, police are equipped with legal powers, such as powers of arrest on suspicion, surveillance, and so on, and equipment, such as guns and batons, which can be used as means to pursue corrupt ends, such as extortion. A good deal of police work involves contact with people who have interests in inducing police to act corruptly—ranging from speeding drivers who are prepared to offer a bribe to avoid losing their license, to tow truck operators who pay police for information about traffic accidents, to criminals who pay for intelligence that puts them in a better position to plan their activities. Black markets in goods and services for which there is a large and persisting demand, such as recreational drugs, sex, and alcohol, generate ample opportunities for corrupt behavior, such as stealing the proceeds of crime, or receiving bribes from merchants in such markets.

At the same time they face such opportunities to act corruptly, police are also subject to a range of factors that undermine their capacity to resist these opportunities, or even to realize that, in taking them, they are acting corruptly. One such factor (or set of factors) stems from the collective nature of police work. Police rely on each other to an unusually large extent to achieve their professional goals. This, together with the socially distinctive nature of police work, tends to generate a high degree of group identification and solidarity. That solidarity is displayed both at the level of the unit, with perceived conflict between the interests of the rank and file, on the one hand, and police management on the other, and at the level of the service as a whole. In either case, it helps generate an “us and them” mentality and a strong emphasis on group loyalty.

In many ways such solidarity and loyalty is a good thing; without it effective policing would be impossible. But it can also contribute to police corruption. First, as survey research has indicated, it means that that even morally well motivated new recruits can be corrupted by their induction into a group that is itself partially or wholly corrupt, either by joining in corrupt practices or by tolerating them. Second, solidarity expresses itself in the notorious “blue wall” of silence. The blue wall exists when even the many police who disapprove of the corrupt practices of colleagues will not make complaints against them, when members close ranks against outside investigation of wrongdoing, and when those who do complain are ostracized or worse. That silence, of course, has the effect of protecting corrupt police from effective action. Moreover, police who refrain from acting against their corrupt colleagues out of a sense of loyalty are often compromised by this failure and ripe for more active involvement in corrupt schemes.

The moral character of police can also come under pressure when they are called on to enforce the law in what might be called morally confusing environments, where laws, or their modes of enforcement, conflict with broadly held social norms. This is a problem particularly with laws against vice—drugs, prostitution, gambling— which are often introduced or retained as a result of pressure from well-organized lobby groups. As noted above, the black markets that arise as a consequence are fertile sources of corruption. Such laws are also often seen by those who are charged with enforcing them as morally unjustified. Consider laws against recreational drugs such as marijuana and amphetamines. Young police in particular are often members of subcultures where the use of such drugs is common and seen as unproblematic—attitudes that may be widespread in the broader community. Moreover, there is often a de facto toleration of markets in vice by the powers-that-be, provided that they are sufficiently removed from the attention of those who find them offensive. Occasional token “crackdowns” might be required in the face of outrage or scandal, but there is no serious desire to closedown such activities entirely. Understandably, police can come to feel that tolerating, or even participating in, illegal behavior is not always wrong and that they are justified in picking and choosing which laws they will respect and enforce, and how.

Addressing Police Corruption

Given the nature of police work it is utopian to believe that police corruption will ever be completely exterminated. However, it is not utopian to believe that it can be much reduced. Legislative and other policies directed at offenses and offenders, rather than at police, can play a major role here. For example, where decriminalization of abortion and of homosexuality has occurred, it has significantly reduced the opportunities for police corruption. But policies directed at police, from within and without the service, can also play a significant role. Broadly speaking, such policies should aim to reinforce the desire to act well and reduce temptations to act badly, either by removing the opportunity to do so or increasing the likely costs. There is now a significant body of research, looking both at organizations generally and police services more specifically, which indicates how both of these things can be done through the development of what is often referred to as an integrity system.

An integrity system for police, aiming to promote good behavior and reduce bad, can be seen as having four interacting parts: first, an organization-wide, intelligence-based, ethics risk-assessment audit; second, measures to reduce those risks; third, ways of detecting and deterring corruption; and finally, means to increase ethical awareness.

Some of the most salient ethical risks facing police have already been identified, such as the temptations of noble cause corruption, the possibility of excessive use of force and other kinds of abuse of members of the public, and the potential for bribery, or even active involvement in criminality. Other important risks include the compromising of data security, especially electronic data; difficulties in managing informants, given that most informants are themselves criminals; infiltration by organized crime; and pressure by political leaders, or sections of the media, or the police hierarchy to “get results,” compromising the investigative process and, potentially, its outcome.

Measures to reduce these risks begin at the point of recruitment. Strategies here will aim both to exclude unsuitable applicants and to attract suitable ones. Given the tendency toward corruption in policing, it is crucial that those who are recruited have the highest moral character. If there is a good chance that even those of good character can be corrupted, there is obviously no chance of those of bad character being reformed by undertaking police work. It is also important to recruit those who are capable of becoming competent. The incompetent find it difficult to identify strongly with the ends of the profession, and can easily become disaffected and cynical and therefore susceptible to corruption. Vetting for potential recruits can make use of psychological tests, personal interviews, and background checks of financial records and personal connections to exclude those who have criminal connections, moral or psychological weaknesses, or who lack the capacity to become competent officers. Adequate pay and conditions are obviously important factors in attracting competent recruits, as well as making some of the possible sources of corruption less tempting. Research also seems to indicate that recruits with higher educational backgrounds are more competent and act with greater integrity.

Specific measures to reduce the risks identified above include the following:

  • Data security: Segregation of and controlled access to internal affairs databases; audits of database access
  • Drug investigations: Early warning systems, for example, profiles of at-risk officers/locations/high-risk areas; intelligence-driven targeted integrity testing of individuals/locations; audits of drug squads and forensic laboratories
  • Excessive use of force investigations: Complaints-driven investigations informed by intelligence, for example, a high number of complaints of excessive use of force
  • Informant management: Accountability mechanisms such as documentation naming the informant; ensuring that a police officer with an informant has a supervisor who meets with the officer and the informant; having a supervisor who monitors the police officer’s dealings with the informant; and recording all payments (including electronic transfers, to prevent theft)
  • Prevention of infiltration by organized crime: Stringent and constantly updated vetting procedures (especially for officers in sensitive areas), ensuring adequate supervision of all officers, and monitoring and utilization of intelligence databases (including criminal associations)

An effective complaints and discipline system is central to a well-functioning integrity system. As its name implies there are two components to a complaints and discipline system: first, gathering and classifying complaints (the complaint element), then assessing and responding to those complaints that are prima facie grounds for sanctioning a member of the occupation (the discipline element). An effective method for gathering complaints is a necessary condition for a fair discipline system; at the same time, complaints are more likely to be forthcoming if it is perceived that they will be taken seriously and responded to appropriately.

Historically, there have tended to be major structural problems with both these components of the complaint and discipline system. Complaints can come either from members of the public or from police. As mentioned above, by their nature complaints from members of the public are often difficult to substantiate, involving the word of the complainant against that of the police officer. Moreover, police have often been able to deflect complaints by making the complaint process opaque, time-consuming, and intimidating. Ill-conceived management use of low numbers of complaints as a performance indicator can, perversely, reward units which discourage complaints and penalize those that are open to them. Aspects of police culture noted above—the blue wall of silence and the persecution of police who do nevertheless complain—mean that complaints from police are relatively rare and, when made, often difficult to substantiate, with police closing ranks to stymie investigation.

These problems with the complaint component of the complaint and discipline system reflect, at least to a degree, deficiencies in the discipline component of that system. First, police discipline policies have often been excessively punitive, with relatively minor breaches of professional standards, such as accessing databases for personal inquiries, subject to disproportionate sanctions. Colleagues of those accused reasonably, or at least understandably, do not want to be complicit in a process that in their view results in such unfair treatment. Second, there have been problems associated with the operation of specialized police units that have often had sole responsibility for investigating complaints (internal affairs or professional standards units). These problems have included consistent breaches of confidentiality, where the identity of both complainant and the subject and nature of the complaint have been “leaked”; low quality of investigations; and excessively light sanctions for substantiated serious misconduct. These shortcomings make it less likely that complaints will be upheld, and more likely that the complainant will be identified and face the negative consequences that flow from that. The overall effect is to deter police from making complaints, even against serious corruption of which they disapprove and would prefer not to happen.

An effective complaints and discipline system presupposes a rational typology of misconduct, on the basis of which complaints are classified and dealt with. A basic distinction should be made between what might be called unsatisfactory conduct, on the one hand, and ethical misconduct, on the other. Unsatisfactory conduct is conduct that falls short of the standard of competence and diligence that can reasonably be expected of a police officer, as a consequence of carelessness, haste, or rudeness, for example. It should be dealt with at the local level. Appropriate responses to substantiated complaints might be further training, supervised practice, and other forms of professional development.

As well as helping create a more competent workforce, treating unsatisfactory conduct in this way reduces the likelihood that initial minor ethical lapses on the part of new recruits will come to be regarded, by the offending officers themselves as well as others, as fatal moral compromises that impugn their integrity and prevent them from reporting the serious ethical misconduct of their corrupt colleagues. It also makes it more likely that colleagues will genuinely participate in investigation of complaints of unsatisfactory conduct, or even make them themselves. Ethical misconduct, on the other hand, involves seriously corrupt, including criminal, behavior. It is only misconduct of this kind that should be dealt with by professional standards units, or external investigators. Responses to substantiated complaints should include serious sanctions, such as demotion, dismissal, and referral for criminal charges.

An effective complaints and discipline system will also ensure that complaints can easily be made and are assured of confidentiality, that detailed records of complaints and investigations are kept, and that professional standards units are properly resourced and staffed. Even where such units exist, there are obvious reasons to be chary of police investigating police, such as the inevitable perception of bias. At the very least, it is desirable that there be external oversight agencies, to which police are accountable for their handling of complaints.

Given the difficulties in proving serious police corruption, and its grave consequences, active investigation of suspected corruption (rather than simply reacting to complaints) may be desirable in some cases. One of the most important tools available for such investigation is integrity testing—offering police simulated opportunities to engage in corrupt behavior, such as offering bribes to overlook a supposed drug deal. Such testing can be targeted where specific officers are tested in response to plausible intelligence indicating their involvement in corruption, or random. Even so-called random testing may in fact target subsets of police, in particular those working in high-risk areas, but it does not involve singling out particular individuals. While it appears that there is support among police for targeted integrity testing, random testing is less popular. Potential problems with such testing include the exacerbation of mistrust between management and “the troops,” and a chilling effect on the appropriate exercise of discretion, with police worried that overlooking minor infractions of law may lead to disciplinary proceedings. In any case, it is clear that effective integrity testing acts both to uncover and deter corruption, and is now an important weapon in the armory of professional standards units.

Causal Role of Police Culture in Corruption

Much of the discussion of police corruption has pointed to the causal role of police culture. However, police culture is not necessarily a pervasive and monolithic social force that works in the same way in all settings. Research in both police services, and in the other organizations, has shown the importance of rational administrative structures and processes and ethical leadership in creating a morally healthy environment. Perceptions of unfairness in areas such as promotion or allocation of work fosters disillusionment and cynicism, with consequent potential for corruption. Ethical leadership involves demonstrating a commitment to ethical behavior (role modeling), including intolerance of bad behavior, and engagement with subordinates.

Ultimately, resistance to corruption depends on the moral sense of the members of a police service. Police are constantly making decisions in situations of moral and practical complexity. Only police who have the capacity to make independent, ethically informed decisions can both operate effectively without close supervision and reliably resist the temptations inherent in their work. Developing and reinforcing the habits of ethical reflection and judgment, through such means as initial training, professional education, supervision, and involvement in development and discussion of codes of ethics, should be seen as an essential part of police practice.

Ethical reflection on their role will help police understand that they are collectively responsible for resisting corruption. Law enforcement, maintenance of order, and so on cannot be achieved by individual police officers acting on their own; policing is a cooperative enterprise. However, police corruption undermines the proper ends of policing. Moreover, police corruption depends in part on the complicity or tacit consent of fellow officers. It follows that loyalty to corrupt officers is not only misplaced, but also an abrogation of duty. Collective responsibility entails selective loyalty—loyalty to police officers who do what is right, but not to those who do what is wrong. The loyalty of police officers is only warranted by those who embody the ideals of policing, and in particular by those who are not corrupt. Collective responsibility also entails such actions as whistle-blowing and support for, rather than opposition to, well-intentioned whistle-blowers.


  • Barker, Tom. Police Ethics: Crisis in Law Enforcement. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 2006.
  • Kleinig, John. The Ethics of Policing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
  • Miller, Seumas. “Integrity Systems and Professional Reporting in Police Organisations.” Criminal Justice Ethics, v.29/3 (2010).
  • Miller, Seumas and John Blackler. Ethical Issues in Policing. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2005.
  • Miller, Seumas, Peter Roberts, and Edward Spence. Corruption and Anti-Corruption: An Applied Philosophical Approach. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2005.
  • Mollen, Milton, et al. Commission Report. City of New York Commission to Investigate Allegations of Police Corruption and the Anti-Corruption Procedures of the Police Department, 1994.
  • Prenzler, Tim. Police Corruption: Preventing Misconduct and Maintaining Integrity Abingdon, UK: CRC Press, 2009.

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The Lurking Shadows of Corruption

Sweet V

The Anatomy of Corruption

The social construct of scandal, the quest for control, internal affairs: a crucial component.

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Second contingent of Kenya police arrive to tackle Haiti’s violence in Port-au-Prince

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2nd UN-backed contingent of Kenyan police arrive in Haiti to help quell gang violence

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Another 200 police officers from Kenya arrived Tuesday in Haiti for a U.N.-backed mission led by the East African country to battle violent gangs that have taken over parts of the troubled Caribbean country.

The officers arrived nearly a month after the first contingent of 200 landed in the capital of Port-au-Prince, where gangs control at least 80 percent of the city.

READ MORE : Haitian leaders replace police chief as officer deaths rise amid gang violence

Last week the United Nations Security Council strongly condemned “the extreme levels of armed violence” in Haiti that are undermining security in the country and the region.

Authorities have declined to provide details on the Kenyans’ assignments, citing security concerns. Associated Press journalists have seen them on patrol in areas near the main international airport, which reopened in May after a surge in gang violence forced it to close for nearly three months.

“We are happy to work side-by-side with the Kenyans,” Normil Rameau, the new chief of Haiti’s National Police, said shortly after they arrived. “In the name of the government, we give them a warm welcome.”

More Kenyans are expected to arrive in coming weeks and months and will be joined by police and soldiers from the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Chad and Jamaica for a total of 2,500 personnel. They will be deployed in phases at a cost of some $600 million a year, according to the U.N. Security Council.

The Kenyan-led mission is meant to bolster Haiti’s National Police, which remains understaffed and underfunded, with only about 10,000 officers active at a time in a country of more than 11 million people.

The mission also aims to quell gangs accused of killing more than 4,450 people last year and injuring another 1,668, according to the U.N, more than double compared with the previous year. More than 1,500 people were killed or injured in the first three months of this year.

While some Haitians have welcomed the Kenyans’ arrival, others remain wary.

“The fear of the Haitians is that this mission, as has occurred in the past … will only achieve a temporary reduction in violence,” said Diego Da Rin, with the International Crisis Group, who was recently in Haiti. Da Rin noted that certain politicians and business owners have long been tied to gangs, and warned the crisis will continue “as long as the problems of impunity and corruption are not addressed.”

Another concern is that Kenyan police have faced years of allegations of abuses in their country, including extrajudicial killings. Their behavior drew renewed scrutiny when they opened fire on protesters in recent weeks amid ongoing turmoil that has killed dozens of people.

READ MORE : New Haitian Prime Minister Conille hospitalized days after arriving to lead country

In addition, a previous intervention in Haiti — the U.N.’s 2004-2017 peacekeeping mission — was marred by allegations of sexual assault and the introduction of cholera, which killed nearly 10,000 people.

Jean-Marc Etienne, 49, lost his home a year ago when gangs invaded his neighborhood, forcing him to flee like many others. He said he hasn’t seen Kenyans on patrol since the first contingent arrived in June.

“Security has not improved,” he said as he pushed a wheelbarrow of sugarcane near the airport. “On top of that, kidnappings have started again.” He and his family have been living in a friend’s yard under a tarp, exposed to sweltering heat and heavy rains.

Gangs have left more than half a million Haitian homeless in recent years.

“There’s no action being taken yet,” said Mario Jean-Baptiste, 39, as he walked past the airport and peered around, trying to glimpse the Kenyans. “That’s what the Haitian people are counting on.”

He said Haitians are still unable to move freely about Port-au-Prince and that many don’t have a place to sleep or anything to eat: “They’re living like dogs.”

Violence worsened earlier this year when gangs launched coordinated attacks in late February. They opened fire on the main international airport, stormed more than two dozen police stations and broke into Haiti’s two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates.

The attacks eventually led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who had urgently requested the deployment of foreign forces in late 2022. His resignation in late April was followed by the appointment of a transitional presidential council and a new prime minister, Garry Conille.

Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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Senator menendez was convicted of corruption.

Also, police were in the complex from which a gunman shot Trump. Here’s the latest at the end of Tuesday.

essays on police corruption

By Matthew Cullen

Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, once a powerful Democrat in the Senate, was convicted today of participating in a vast international bribery scheme , in which he was accused of accepting gold, cash and other payoffs in exchange for political favors.

A jury of 12 New Yorkers found Menendez guilty on all of the 16 counts he faced, including bribery, conspiracy, wire fraud, extortion, obstruction of justice and acting as an agent for Egypt. Prosecutors accused him of orchestrating the scheme while he was the Democratic leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The verdict made Menendez the first senator to be found guilty of acting as an agent of a foreign power and the seventh to be convicted of a federal crime while in office. He was charged with corruption once before, but that unrelated prosecution ended in a mistrial in 2017.

Menendez, who has maintained his innocence, vowed to appeal the decision. But his conviction will almost certainly deliver a final blow to his storied, four-decade political career. Several top Democrats, including Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, called on Menendez to resign. If he declines, the Senate could move to expel him, though it is not yet clear if it would.

Menendez, who is 70, faces the possibility of many years in prison. He is set to be sentenced on Oct. 29, and eight of the counts on which he was convicted carry potential 20-year sentences.

For more: Here are the details at the core of the corruption case .

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The attack on Donald Trump unleashes a flood of misinformation

The left thinks the shooting was just a performance; the right sees an inside job. will the truth matter.

Image of Donald Trump recovering from being shot in the ear

“A merican politics has often been an arena for angry minds,” the political scientist Richard Hofstadter wrote 60 years ago in his classic essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics”. Yet across many eras, this discourse of  “heated exaggeration, suspicion and conspiratorial fantasy” festered largely on the fringe. Then the internet made the fringe accessible to everyone, amplifying dissonance and disinformation.

In the initial hours after the shocking assassination attempt against Donald Trump on Saturday evening, meme-makers and influencers on the left and right came to fast agreement about one thing: the shooting must have been orchestrated. Some on the left described it as a false-flag operation staged to make Mr Trump look invincible and bolster his election prospects. They pointed to the way Mr Trump paused to pose for photos with his fist in the air and blood streaking down his cheek as evidence that the attack must have been choreographed by the candidate’s own image-makers.

The right’s citizen-pundits—and even some elected office-holders—reckoned that the attempt to kill Mr Trump looked like an inside job. Within minutes of the shooting, media mogul Elon Musk endorsed Mr Trump and later suggested to his 190m followers that the failure of the Secret Service to stop the shooter may have been “deliberate”. Mike Collins, a Republican congressman from Georgia, asserted that “Joe Biden sent the orders.”

Conspiracy theories about a shocking institutional failure often take hold when an alternative explanation—incompetence—is unsatisfying. Mr Trump’s attacker, identified by the FBI as a 20-year-old Pennsylvania man named Thomas Matthew Crooks, apparently managed to mount a nearby roof with an AR -15-style rifle in hand without being stopped by the police. This might be judged as a stunning failure of professional practice by the Secret Service; President Joe Biden has promised an independent review of what went wrong. In right-wing media, however, the failure to stop the shooter is presented as evidence of deliberate intrigue. Rumours spread quickly on Instagram that Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of Homeland Security, who has been villainised by Republicans for his handling of the southern border, rebuffed the Trump campaign’s requests for better protection.

Such views are not confined to Reddit obsessives pounding their keyboards late at night; they are commonplace among ordinary MAGA Republicans. Sandra Chase, a Republican delegate from Brooklyn who is attending this week’s Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, says she thinks the assassination attempt was an inside job and that the FBI will cover up the real crime. She and like-minded sceptics are likely to have plenty to talk about as they debate their theories in the days and weeks ahead. On Sunday, the FBI reported that Mr Crooks appears to have acted alone, a finding that was unaccompanied by the release of evidence to back it up.

Ms Chase said she belongs to a chat group that is concerned about another angle: that diversity mandates within the Secret Service forced the organisation to hire lots of ineffective women, which exacerbated the danger faced by Mr Trump. Photos from the attack that show female agents who are smaller than Mr Trump rushing to provide cover for him have been transformed into misogynistic memes across social-media platforms.

On the evidence available so far, Mr Crooks’s motives and political views are largely a mystery. News outlets reported that he was registered as a Republican but gave a $15 donation to a liberal political action committee, the Progressive Turnout Project, in January 2021. He apparently grew up in middle-class circumstances and made little impression on schoolmates.

The online far right has already invented a profile of him that fits their worldview, however. Minutes after authorities released the shooter’s identity, myriad fake Instagram accounts appeared under his name with invented biographies that describe Mr Crooks as transgender, Jewish and a Black Lives Matter supporter. They and other influencers cited a comment Mr Biden reportedly made on a private call to donors last week: “We’re done talking about the debate, it’s time to put Trump in a bullseye.”

Disinformation experts expect such narratives will continue to spread, even as details of the shooter’s motives and background become clearer. New information is unlikely to change the minds of those who already believe that one party or the other planned the assassination attempt. “The defining feature of conspiracy theories is that they explain everything, so they’re pretty resistant to individual details,” says Jonathan Stray of the University of California, Berkeley.

How much does such widespread confusion matter? To date, American democracy has somehow lurched through its crises, despite the enduring persuasiveness of Hofstadter’s observations. This week may seem more worrisome than usual because of the violence inflicted on Mr Trump and the normalisation of discourse about such radical action online. Some angry progressives are lamenting that the bullet grazed Mr Trump’s ear, missing his skull by millimetres. Destiny, a leftist social-media commentator, told his 250,000 X followers that Mr Trump and his supporters will “reap what they sow, and I’m here to watch the harvest”. Meanwhile, on the right, a post in a Florida Proud Boys Telegram channel depicts Mr Trump with blazing red eyes above a banner headline: “THIS IS WAR!!!” ■

Stay on top of American politics with  The US in brief , our daily newsletter with fast analysis of the most important electoral stories, and  Checks and Balance , a weekly note from our Lexington columnist that examines the state of American democracy and the issues that matter to voters.

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essays on police corruption

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