Police





The police officer stands at the top of the criminal justice system in a nation where crime rates are high and where the demands for illegal goods and services are widespread. These conditions create a situation in which the police officer is confronted with opportunity to accept a large number of favors or grants. Police corruption occurs in many forms and observers of police behavior agree that it falls into nine specific areas. Drug related police corruption differs from other types of police corruption. In addition to protecting criminals or ignoring their activities, officers involved in drug related corruption were more likely to be involved in stealing drugs and/or money from drug dealers, selling drugs, lying under oath about illegal searches, and other crimes. Although not enough data was available upon which to base an estimate of the extent of corruption, the amount of cases of police corruption proved that it was striking enough to concern the public. The most commonly identified patterns of corruption involved small groups of officers who protected and assisted each other in criminal activities. The demands of the public and politicians, however, have caused an outrage and a fear that open investigations and accusations of corruption will cause the problem of distrust in the police to grow even greater.
Some police forces seem to have adopted a market-based approach to law enforcement. Several drug related pedophiles and even murderers were believed to have walked out of police headquarters “free-if- poorer” men (Klockars, p 76). In one small town in New Mexico more than 30 suspected pedophiles were arrested in the span of 18 months but only one case went to court. The other suspects were released after paying a hefty "bail", or a straightforward bribe. There is evidence that some police officials fleece tourists by first planting drugs on them and then demanding bribes. Unbelievably, there are cases of corruption that are far worse. Two have been charged with keeping a brothel, for which they are alleged to have kidnapped a 15-year-old virgin. Another officer set up a children\'s home, which he advertised as a charity. "Charlie\'s Shelter" in fact offered young boys for sex. The local police record an unusual number of suicides and mysterious incidents of heart failure. One detective failed to notice that a tourist, whom he diagnosed as having been beaten to death, had been shot at point-blank range. Perhaps the officer in question was distracted by the strain of managing his second-hand car business.
The people in charge of the police organizations are not blind to what is going on; some are just too scared to admit that there are corrupt officers in their force. Others may just really not know what is going on while the rest are either involved in the corruption or speaking up and trying to stop the dishonesty. For example, Roy Penrose, director-general of a new squad, warned the public that a "small but significant number" of officers were known to be selling police information and aiding former officers and criminals as to the whereabouts of safe havens where they could go unharmed in dealing in their drug trades. He pledged to be "ruthless" in sacking corrupt and incompetent officers (Welch, p 13).
James Wood, a former Supreme Court judge, was well suited to staying the distance with an inquiry that many in the police force hoped would fizzle out soon after it began. Mr. Wood chose as his chief weapon the power of public exposure-filmed evidence that revealed police officers allegedly taking bribes or dealing in drugs. The commission\'s staff also made use of "roll over" witnesses, policemen who admitted corruption and then agreed to finger colleagues in return for immunity from prosecution. The star informer was Trevor Haken, a former detective sergeant who helped to install miniature video cameras in the dashboard of a police car and in the light fittings of a prostitute\'s home. The cameras caught one senior policeman being handed wads of cash by another, allegedly his cut of a drug deal, and a third policeman accepting drugs from a prostitute and asking her if she could obtain child pornography. When television news programs showed the video clips, the public was predictably outraged.
In the last months of his inquiry, Mr. Wood confronted