Police Corruption misc Essay

This essay has a total of 3149 words and 11 pages.

Police Corruption misc

Analysis Of Police Corruption

Analysis of Police Corruption Police corruption is a complex phenomenon, which does not
readily submit to simple analysis. It is a problem that has and will continue to affect us
all, whether we are civilians or law enforcement officers. Since its beginnings, may
aspects of policing have changed; however, one aspect that has remained relatively
unchanged is the existence of corruption. An examination of a local newspaper or any
police-related publication on any given day will have an article about a police officer
that got busted committing some kind of corrupt act. Police corruption has increased
dramatically with the illegal cocaine trade, with officers acting alone or in-groups to
steal money from dealers or distribute cocaine themselves. Large groups of corrupt police
have been caught in New York, New Orleans, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles. Methodology:
Corruption within police departments falls into 2 basic categories, which are external
corruption and internal corruption. For a corrupt act to occure, three distinct elements
of police corruption must be present simultaneously: 1) missuse of authority, 2) missuse
of official capacity, and 3) missuse of personal attainment. (Dantzker, 1995: p 157) It
can be said that power inevitably tends to corrupt, and it is yet to be recongnized that,
while there is no reason to suppose that policemen as individuals are any less fallible
than other members of society, people are often shocked and outraged when policemen are
exposed violating the law. The reason is simple. There diviance elicits a special feeling
of betrayal. "Most studies support the view that corruption is endemic, if not universal,
in police departments. The danger of corruption for police, and this is that it may invert
the formal goals of the organization and may lead to "the use of organizational power to
encourage and create crime rather than to deter it" (Sherman 1978: p 31) General police
deviance can include brutality, discrimination, sexual harassment, intimidation, and
illicit use of weapons. However it is not particularly obvious where brutality,
discrimination, and misconduct end and corruption begin. Essentially, police corruption
falls into two major categories-- external corruption which concerns police contacts with
the public, and internal corruption, which involves the relationships among policemen
within the works of the police department. The external corruption generally concists of
one ore more of the following activities: 1) Payoffs to police by essentially non-criminal
elements who fail to comply with stringent statutes or city ordinances; (for example,
inviduals who repeatedly violate traffic laws). 2) Payoffs to police by individuals who
continually violate the law as a method of making money (for example, prostitutes,
narcotics addicts and pusshers, & professional burglars). 3) "Clean Graft" where money is
paid to police for services, or where courtesy discounts are given as a matter of course
to the police. "Police officers have been involved in activities such as extortion of
money and/or narcotics from narcotics viloators in order to aviod arrest; they have
accepted bribes; they have sold narcotics. They have known of narcotics vilolations and
have failed to take proper enforcement action. They have entered into personal
associations with narcotics criminals and in some cases have used narcotics. They have
given false testimony in court in order to obtain dismissal of the charges against a
defendant." (Sherman 1978: p 129) A scandal is perceived both as a socially constructed
phenomenon and as an agent of change that can lead to realignments in the structure of
power within oraganizations. New york, for instance, has had more than a half dozen major
scandals concerning its police department within a century. It was the Knapp Commission in
1972 that first brought attention to the NYPD when they released the results of over 2
years of investigations of alleged corruption. The findings were that bribery, especially
amoung narcotics officers, was extremely high. As a result many officers were prosecuted
and many more lost their jobs. A massive re-structuring took place aftewards with strict
rules and regulations to make sure that the problem would never happen again. Be that as
it may, the problem did arrise once gain... Some of the most recent events to shake New
York City and bring attention to the national problem of police corruption was brought up
begining in 1992 when five officers were arrested on drug-trafficing charges. Michael
Dowd, the suspected 'ring leader', was the kind of cop who gave new meaning to the word
moonlighting. It wasn't just any job that the 10-year veteran of the New York City force
was working on the side. Dowd was a drug dealer. From scoring free pizza as a rookie he
graduated to pocketing cash seized in drug raids and from there simply to robbing dealers
outright, sometimes also relieving them of drugs that he would resell. Soon he had formed
''a crew'' of 15 to 20 officers in his Brooklyn precinct who hit up dealers regularly.
Eventually one of them was paying Dowd and another officer $8,000 a week in protection
money. Dowd bought four suburban homes and a $35,000 red Corvette. Nobody asked how he
managed all that on take-home pay of $400 a week. In May 1992 Dowd, four other officers
and one former officer were arrested for drug trafficking by police in Long Island's
Suffolk County. When the arrests hit the papers, it was forehead-slapping time among
police brass. Not only had some of their cops become robbers, but the crimes had to be
uncovered by a suburban police force. Politicians and the media started asking what had
happened to the system for rooting out police corruption established 21 years ago at the
urging of the Knapp Commission, the investigatory body that heard Officer Frank Serpico
and other police describe a citywide network of rogue cops. (New York Times, March 29,
1993: p 8) To find out, at the time, New York City mayor David Dinkins established the
Mollen Commission, named for its chairman, Milton Mollen, a former New York judge. Last
week, in the same Manhattan hearing room where the Knapp Commission once sat, the new body
heard Dowd and other officers add another lurid chapter to the old story of police
corruption. And with many American cities wary that drug money will turn their departments
bad, police brass around the country were lending an uneasy ear to the tales of officers
sharing lines of coke from the dashboard of their squad cars and scuttling down fire
escapes with sacks full of cash stolen from dealers' apartments. (New York Times, April 3,
1993: p. 5) The Mollen Commission has not uncovered a citywide system of payoffs among the
30,000-member force. In fact, last week's testimony focused on three precincts, all in
heavy crime areas. But the tales, nevertheless, were troubling. Dowd described how
virtually the entire precinct patrol force would rendezvous at times at an inlet on
Jamaica Bay, where they would drink, shoot off guns in the air and plan their illegal drug
raids. (New York Times, Nov. 17, 1993: p. 3) It was "victimless crimes" problem which many
view was a prime cause in the growth of police abuse. Reports have shown that the large
majority of corrupt acts by police involve payoffs from both the perpetrators and the
"victims" of victimless crimes. The knapp commission in the New York found that although
corruption among police officers was not restricted to this area, the bulk of it involved
payments of money to the police from gamblers and prostitutes. (Knapp Commission Report,
1973: pp 1-3) ''The cops who were engaged in corruption 20 years ago took money to cover
up the criminal activity of others,'' says Michael Armstrong, who was chief counsel to the
Knapp Commission. '' Now it seems cops have gone into competition with street criminals.''
(Newsweek, Oct 21,1992: p. 18) For cops as for anyone else, money works age for crooked
police. Gambling syndicates in the 1950s were protected by a payoff system more elaborate
than the Internal Revenue Service. Pervasive corruption may have lessened in recent years,
as many experts believe, but individual examples seem to have grown more outrageous. In
March authorities in Atlanta broke up a ring of weight-lifting officers who were charged
with robbing strip clubs and private homes, and even carrying off 450-lb. safes from
retail stores. (Washington Post, Jan 18, 1993: p. 11) The deluge of cash that has flowed
from the drug trade has created opportunities for quick dirty money on a scale never seen
before. In the 1980s Philadelphia saw more than 30 officers convicted of taking part in a
scheme to extort money from dealers. In Los Angeles an FBI probe focusing on the L.A.
County sheriff's department has resulted so far in 36 indictments and 19 convictions on
charges related to enormous thefts of cash during drug raids -- more than $1 million in
one instance. ''The deputies were pursuing the money more aggressively than they were
pursuing drugs,'' says Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Bauer. (Washington Post, Jan 18,
1993: p. 11) When cities enlarge their police forces quickly in response to public fears
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