Policing In America - Police Misconduct and Corruption | My Paper Hub
Hundreds of cases related to
police brutality, co...
Hundreds of cases related to
police brutality, corruption, and abuse, are reported every day. Most of the
perpetrators walk scot free around the streets, and nobody bothers to ask them
since the law protects them. They also have the power to manipulate evidence
put forward against them if it is not sufficient. Those caught in the process
also have a way of getting around the laws. For example, in 2014 a Milwaukee
police detective was charged with a misconduct of lying to the FBI agent. As
the law dictates, this is a crime that leads to investigations which in turn
leading to charges against the individual if found guilty. The detective was on
paid leave for the few months he was being investigated therefore being paid
for months that he has not worked. The element of the case that triggers a lot
of interest is that the detective applied for duty disability retirement. In
his defense, the inspector argued that being investigated arrested, and being
strip-searched left him incapable of being an officer anymore (Diedrich &
The detective alleged that
the whole process left him entirely disable through physical injuries,
psychological tremor resulting from the investigation procedures. The detective
was allegedly protecting drug dealers when in his duties. Lying to an FBI agent
could lead to a $250,000 fine and a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment
(Diedrich & Barton, 2014). However, with the application filled, the
officer will continue being paid by the government even though he loses his
badge and his part in the police force. The loophole created by the law could
serve as an escape route for many officers if they are good at fabricating
information. A police officer or anyone in the same capacity could be able to
get away with anything. This paper will try to look at some of the misconducts
police officers are involved in including corruption and make recommendations
on how these issues may be dealt with as they affected the citizens in the day
to day life.
The police force plays a
critical role in any society whether it is governed by democracy or any other
form of ruling. The officers are responsible for keeping security in the
country, enforcing laws, maintaining order and channeling any claims of
injustice to the right people to handle the cases. Therefore, maintaining trust
and confidence to the public is of fundamental importance as when tarnished it
may be hard to regain. However, the police system of America leaves a lot of
loopholes to be exploited by police officials who either abuse the authority
that is handed to them by the law or deviate from the ethical and moral
standards set by the law. The misconduct involves corruption, favoritism,
physical assaults and abuse from a police officer’s capacity. The misconducts,
therefore, put the police force at jeopardy and therefore the need to look at
this loop holes for the safety and security of the citizens.
There exists an organization
within the police force by the name Commission to Combat Police Corruption
(CCPC). The work of the group is to investigate the conduct of police officers
within the country where the results of the investigations help in making
reforms within the force. In August 1998, the organization released a report on
misconducts of police officers within the New York Police Department. The
report indicated that most of the misconducts the officers were involved in
took place during the times the officers were not on duty. More than 80% of the
officers involved in crimes and wrongdoings were not on duty during the time of
their arrest. Among the misconducts highlighted by the report was the misuse of
the service weapons when off-duty (Stinson, Liederbach, & Freiburger,
2012). A large number of police officers rely on the gun to get what they want.
When involved in an off-duty confrontation, when a police officer does not get
what he or she wants, he/she may pull out the gun threatening his/her
counterpart. The act is considered an offense as it is unconstitutional. The
weapon is only supposed to be used while on duty. In a recent case, an officer
for Philadelphia police department by the name Dorion Young was charged for
using the gun during off-duty hours. Young is said to have pulled out the
weapon to his 19 years old son. It is said that Young and his son were involved
in an argument and in an attempt for Devine (the son) to get away from his
father he was shot twice in the back using a 40 caliber pistol by his father.
Young was charged with aggravated assault, attempted murder, simple assault,
and possession of an instrument of crime among many other charges. In addition
to this, he was given a thirty-day suspension which in those days he would not
be paid (Patterson, 2016).
Intoxication is a factor that
has led to several misconducts reported nationwide. The report by the CCPC
affirmed this where they highlighted that police intoxication misconducts were
roughly around one-third of the off-duty misconducts reported. Other
researchers like the Mollen Commission and the Fyfe found the same that alcohol
contributed a certain percentage to the misconducts. The malpractices reported
by all the research were the intoxication and misuse of weapons when off-duty.
In an incident in Baltimore, an off-duty police officer by the name Gahiji
Tshamba left the bar at around 1.30Am where he was drinking. After Tshamba had
left the bar, he saw a man touching a woman inappropriately and confronted him.
The confrontation led to an eruption of a heated argument between Tshamba and
the man. Tshamba eventually drew his department-issued semiautomatic Glock
Handgun and shot his counterpart 13 times. 12 of the gunshot killed the unarmed
Iraq war veteran leading to Tshamba being charged with murder (Nuckols, 2016).
If the officer had not been intoxicated, there would be a higher probability
that the events leading to the shooting could not have happened. Intoxication
leads to an impaired judgment which may result in police officers drawing their
guns in a small bar fight.
The other misconduct seen
with off-duty officers is drunk driving. A report released by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2011 indicated that over 10,000 people
die every year due to alcohol-impaired accidents. The report also concluded
that among those causing the accidents, 80% of them are binge drinkers,
therefore, getting involved in dangerous and reckless driving. The report also
indicated that there are over 147 million episodes of impaired drinking among
the adults and within this number a share of it is by police officers
themselves especially the ones who are off-duty (Stinson, Liederbach, Brewer,
& Todak, 2013).
Various scandals have erupted
when police officers commit felony due to the influence of alcohol. One scandal
that remained in the news tabloids for a very long time was that of a cop by
the name Joseph Gray. The incident happened on 4th of August in 2001 when Gray
went to drink mid-morning in a parking lot of the 72nd Precinct in Brooklyn. He
was accompanied by two other police officers named John Welsh and Edward Sills.
The former police officer later went to a strip club which is off limit for
police officers. Later on, he decided to go back to the precinct to get some
rest before his night shift started. It is during the trip back to the precinct
that the accident happened. The police officer ran into a pregnant 23-year-old
lady, her 4year old son and her 16-year-old sister with his minivan that
instantly killed the three. The infant died 13 hours later in the hospital. The
other two police officers were dismissed from their duties while Gary resigned
two weeks after the accident. He was charged with second-degree manslaughter to
serve a fifteen years sentence. Gray was however released in April 2012 by
merit where he had shown improvement in anger management among many other
achievements (Donnelly, 2012).
Other scandals that involved
a drunken police officer driving include one where a police lieutenant was
arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol three times in a
seven-month time span. He was however not charged in any of these incidents.
The lieutenant was however convicted on a DUI charge in an incident that
happened three months later. Another scandal involved an officer who joined a
high-speed pursuit and ran into three motorcyclists who had stopped at the red
lights. He was charged with reckless homicide, but the charges were however
dropped. Another case involved a police commander who had crashed into another
vehicle and left the scene. With the help of other officers, they staged a
phony accident that would cover up for the crush. In his speech, the police
commander sounded drunk when giving his speech and had wet his pants during the
crash (Stinson, Liederbach, Brewer, & Todak, 2013). Most Cases just like
the one discussed above, end up being covered up especially if they involved a
high ranking individual in the police force. Therefore the victims end up not
getting the justice they deserve.
The police officers when on
duty exercise more liberty as compared to when they are not on duty. Most of
the offenses they commit are all covered up during their time at work. There
are some misconduct that the police officers get involved in among them is
sexual assaults and abuse. Several cases are reported of police officers
sexually assaulting civilians or even fellow police officers of the opposite
gender. One of the many cases was that of police officer Daniel Holtzclaw. The
police work on night shifts from 4 PM to 2 AM the following day. During his
hours he patrolled around the northeastern side of the Oklahoma City where he
encountered some women during the working hours. The police officer is said to
have assaulted more than seven women between a within a period of four months
while on duty. To make the situation even worse, he is said to have demanded
oral sex from a fifty-seven years old lady when he pulled her over. Report from
the chief of police Bill Citty indicated that Holtzclaw victimized women from
the black community to offer sexual favor and threatened to arrest them if they
failed to honor his demands (Carpenter, 2014).
According to various
researchers in this field, it is hard to tell how big the problem of sexual
assault and abuse is. The victims of this kind of mistreatment from police
officers find it hard to report because they fear intimidation. The code of
secrecy between police officers is very tight as they view themselves one
against a common enemy which is the external forces like the public. Therefore,
if a police officer is reported, the issue might end up being covered up by the
entire precinct as an attack on one officer may be viewed as an attack to the
whole precinct (Lofca, 2002). In 2010, 9% of the police misconduct cases
reported involved sexual harassment. The number makes this the second from
excessive use of force by the police officers. According to statistics from the
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), sexual assaults by the police officers
are higher as compared to those perpetrated by the civilians. It is believed
that the largest number of police caught sexually assaulting people is repeat
offenders like Daniel Holtzclaw. According to Philip M. Stinson a lecturer at
the Bowling Green State University, victims of police officers offenders never
come forth until the perpetrator is caught and publicized as they fear
intimidation by the police officers. For the Holtzclaw case, several of his
victims were traced by investigators tracing his contacts with the general
public in police patrol (Carpenter, 2014).
The other misconduct the
police officers get themselves into is the use of excessive force with the
civilians or brutality towards individual people. The issue of brutality has
been in our country for a very long but people have not been aware of this. It
is only after the new technology like social media that being aware that
brutality from the police officers exists. The use of force among the police
officers is influenced by a wide range of factors which include, age, gender,
social class, race, and intoxication. The male police officers may most likely
favor women suspect as compared to men who they might be overly brutal. The
officers also tend to be brutal with young people as compared to the older
generation. In recent year, some studies have shown that non-white citizens in
the country are more likely to be subjected to brutal treatment by the police
officers. The case of racism has most especially been seen in the black
community where racism has been reported to be the base of brutal treatment.
The black people are roughed up by the police officers worse than the other
races in the country. Most of these incidences erupt as a result of a resisting
arrest. Individuals from a high ranking society are more likely to be treated
respectfully as compared to those in the lowers ranking wealth wise (Klahm IV
& Tillyer, 2010). Brutally has increased in the recent years making it the
first in the list of misconducts police officers are involved.
An example of a case of
brutality discussed by scholars is that of Rodney King. On March 3, 1991,
Rodney King was drinking with his two friends after which they decided to take
a trip driving down to the 210 freeway. Due to intoxication, King was driving
the car at a very high speed which resulted in the police officer pulling him
over. King, however, did not hide to the command and continued driving further.
The police officer called in and requested for assistance as he was in pursuit
of a drive that was violating the police officer’s order. King continued
speeding even with the red light an incident that almost led to an accident.
King finally came to a halt at the gate of a recreational park by the name
Hansen Dam Park. At that point, the police officers in pursuit ordered the
occupant of the vehicle to get out and lay on the ground. All of them including
King got out and did as they were told except for King who refused to lay on
the group. The refusal led to an escalation of events as recorded by a video
tape recorder of one of the observers of the events as they were unfolding.
King was subjected to various forms of physical violence which left him with a
few broken bones on the legs and bruises on the face. The brutally was intense
such that from there he was taken by an ambulance to the hospital. After the
release of the footage, the public took to the streets to protest against the
police brutality (Davis, 1994). Things even got worse who the court ruling was
in support of the police officers. Numerous brutality cases have risen in the
past where the public have taken their grievances to the streets. Some of the
cases to remember include the case of Michel Brown, Freddie Gray, Denis
Volchkin, Deborah Danner just to mention a few. Most of the people mention above
were victims of police brutality and which the police officers who were
involved in their misfortune walked scot free due to the support of the law on
their side. The victims of the injustices may never get their justice as some
of the cases are closed very early in the investigation process.
Corruption is a vice that has
eaten up each and every society; it does not matter whether the country is
developed or not. In police force too, corruption exists among the rogue police
officers who are not directed by ethical or moral codes of conduct but by the
need for personal gain. Corruption results from too much discretion and
authority given by the law to the police officer or any individual working at
an official capacity of the government. The work environment of a police
officer offers pressure to the police officer where they are in the middle of
two extreme sides. The police officer is exposed to the bad side of the society
where they have to deal with the problems affecting the society regarding security.
In most cases, the police officers find themselves in compromising situation
where they have to choose between crossing the border or choose integrity (United
States Institute of Peace, 2012). For example, when raiding drug cartels, the
drug dealers offer the officer a better deal if they turn a blind eye on the
activities the cartel undertake. The deal may result in a financial gain of
which due to the pay the officers receive working for the government may
entertain. The cartel may also threaten the police officers if they continue
digging up on their businesses. Police officers have been killed in the
process, therefore in fear of ending up dead or their loved ones, the officers
turn a blind eye on them. Some officers also get a lot more involved such that
they help the cartel cover up their tracks. For an agent to turn corrupted this
may be due to the police valuing money more that a person of integrity.
There should be a proper
scrutiny of the candidates joining the force, o deal with issues with
misconducts. Most of the requirements of the force in the current system are
physical health and decent grades in school. The roots of these problems of
misconducts are associated with the growing up environment where the morality
of the candidates is overlooked. The police officers during their time of
recruitment may not have significant issues with the authorities, but their
problems would be buried inside them depending on the exposure they had when
growing up. Some of the police officers come from backgrounds which may be
disturbing. Therefore, their growing up was not usual, and they end up showing
the effects when they are adults.
The principals of the
candidates are also another element that should be put into consideration when
recruiting them. Interviews are not enough proof that one is fit to join the
force. There should be a series of tests where individuals are tested for their
integrity and their ability to be resilient in the police force. As seen
earlier, the duties of a police officer are difficult where they have to deal
with ethical and moral issues. The police force should have some of these
within their curriculum to be able to see the individuals who can be able to
resist external forces. Physical resilience is not the only thing that should
be trained and tested in the academy.
The police force should also
have an oversite organization that monitors the activities of each and every
officer’s conduct from time to time. The organization will enable the police
officers to stay in line as they would not wish to lose their job.
Additionally, the police operations should not only entail strengthened
criminal investigations and improved techniques but also support accountability
and transparency by the officers. The changes will ensure that every member of
the force stays away from the harmful activities that tarnish the name of the
force. The country will also be safer for everyone.
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