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Factors regarding police officer corruption

Question #1

Identify and discuss the factors regarding police officer corruption and the impact it has upon the community.

Question #2

Identify and discuss police practices, specifically questionable practices and their effects of the local community.

Question #3

Identify and Discuss the two Police Commissions created in the mid 1960's. What ere some of the policing issues that were identified and how did these commissions improve community policing and the image of the law enforcement community?

This is the instructors instruction.

- Write your paper with one person on your team being the moderator of the discussion. The moderator gives a question to each of the other team members regarding the topic you are writing on (this can be one topic or several of the topics). The team member answers the question in an essay format. Be sure to include a title page, reference the articles you use and a conclusion to some up the panel discussion.

Solution Preview

Identify and discuss the factors regarding police officer corruption and the impact it has upon the community.

In general terms, the ratio between commanders and the lower ranks make it very difficult to enforce ethical behavior. Yet, leadership is a key element. Setting the tone and standard, both in public and at the station, is essential. This means that discipline should be tough but fair, and that high ranking officers should never play favorites. Objectivity must remain the standard. Giving the impression that there is always "wiggle room" can cause endless problems.

Since supervising policemen, especially experienced ones, is very difficult, enforcement can only be haphazard. The culture of the police itself must oppose unethical behavior and maintain high standards. In 1996, a major symposium was held under the aegis of the Justice Department on police integrity. One comment that continued to be repeated was one that has today become famous: "The major cause in the lack of integrity in American police officers
is mediocrity."

This one-liner summed up the "cultural" problem in certain police departments. Laziness, low standards, cynicism, and tolerance of problematic behavior eventually create a culture where unethical acts are not punished. This means that even the good officers, seeing that poor behavior does not get dealt with, might easily turn bad (Parks, 2000).

The report filed by the LAPD into the causes of police corruption laid out the following variables: first, a lack of leadership. This does not refer to charisma, but the maintenance of a rational and orderly structure of power where command and control can proceed smoothly. Second, turnover or other radical changes in the department or the neighborhood can cause a lack of connection to one's surroundings. Third, at least in the Los Angeles case, there was no attention paid to compatibility: in many areas, high ranking officers did not like each other and competed for respect. This is an important, yet often overlooked, cause of corruption.

Fourth, poor working conditions, long hours and a sense of hopelessness can create a level of cynicism that sees nothing wrong with the occasional act of corruption. The real problem is how this eventually leaks out into the public. There is a substantial literature that the level of crime and disorder in a region has a powerful role to play in shaping attitudes towards the police. In a high crime neighborhood, public knowledge that the police might be crooked is sufficient to distrust them. The main issue with corruption then, relative to public opinion, is the level of trust. If there is no trust, then the policeman's job becomes that much more difficult.

Identify and discuss police practices, specifically questionable practices and their effects of the local community.

In 1987, due to charges of "racism," the Houston police department altered their physical force policy. They especially changed the policies on how and when their little pistols were to be fired. For example, they are not permitted to fire warning shots. There must be an immediate threat of officer death in order to justify the discharge of a weapon. Officers will not fire at a moving vehicle. The reform policy states:

Consequently, no officer will be disciplined for discharging a firearm in self-defense or in defense of another when faced with a situation that immediately threatens life or serious bodily injury. Just as important, no officer will be disciplined for not discharging a firearm if that discharge might threaten the life or safety of an innocent person, or if the discharge is not clearly warranted by the policy and rules of the department.

Of course, this tells us nothing. How can ...

Solution Summary

The factors regarding police officer corruptions are determined.