Police Corruption in America
The missions statement of police agencies usually highlight with pride the maintenance, promotion, and protection of peace, order, safety, and justified law enforcement in communities and the entire nation. Police officers are agents meant to bust crimes and get the bad guys. The police agency that the public use to lean on as the legitimate authority figure to come to the rescue however has created conflicting public perception. The misconduct of some police officers that include abuse of power and corruption tainted the good reputation of the agency overtime.
Illinois and most notably Chicago are best known for their corrupt public officials. From the days of Cermak and the Daley political machine, corruption has become second nature to these “public servants”. From rigging elections to accepting ‘dirty’ donations to the alderman’s campaigns, corruption can be found from the very top of the political layer, down to the lowest government position. Those involved in the corruption have benefited greatly from their dirty deeds. Public residents aren’t directly aware of this corruption since they aren’t public officials, but most can attest to corruption when it involves the local police officers and the exploitation of the public.
In the interviews Wood (2015) and Balko (2015), medically retired Police Officer and former Marine, Sargent Michael Wood discusses his time on the Baltimore Police Department and the driving factors to police corruption that is drawn from his experience. Sgt. Wood was a police officer for 11 years and for the first four years he was assigned to a majority black neighborhood. His second assignment was in a majority white neighborhood and during this assignment Sgt. Wood formulated an opinion on the police policies that drove corruption among good men and women (Wood, 2015). Although Sgt. Wood identifies many fascinating issues within the Baltimore Police Department, I will focus attention on his insight into the Baltimore police culture and
We as Americans always expect the best. But when it comes to the ones that serve and protect we don’t pay enough attention. Police men and women are often abusing their power. Doing so civilians lives are lost same as there tax money. This happens all too often. It’s called police corruption. Serve and Protect are common words associated with police officers. Some law enforcement officers degrade the honor and integrity of the job. Although it is a serious and real issue a lot of people don’t fully know what police corruption is. Police corruption is the illegal use of legitimate authority. Or illegal abuse of power for personal gain. Police Corruption is a serious problem affecting nearly every city across the country and world. To show you how often his happens here are some statistics. From January 2010 through June 2010 there were 2,541 reports of police misconduct cited. 3,240 Law enforcement officers included in the police misconduct reports. 178 Of the law enforcement officers reported were departmental leaders, police chiefs, and sheriffs. 4,199 Alleged victims of police misconduct associated with these reports. 124 Fatalities associated with these reports. There were 17.9 Law enforcement officers cited in the news for misconduct each day on average. $148,512,000 in approximated police misconduct related settlements and judgments paid out in this period. That was only six months of time. The most common type of misconduct is excessive force at 23%. 13% of excessive force reports involved fatalities and, of those fatalities, 60% were caused by firearms.
There has been several indicents that have taken place in Baltimore, Maryland that required major attention by the police, but one main event that drew the attention of the Baltimore Police Department was dealing with Sam and Earl Veney. Sam and Earl Veney robbed a liquor store in December 1964. The two black men also shot two police officers, killing one. They were caught and convicted. But the police manhunt in Baltimore for the Veney brothers became almost as infamous as their crimes. Without warrants, police broke into scores of homes in black neighborhoods. Some critics protested that the raids were a widespread violation of civil liberties. Federal courts and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had to get involved.
The first of the four categories, Loyalty, is the ethical dilemma officers face when seeing other fellow officers commit offences during their course of action. These types of action can be as minuscule as officers abusing sick leave, all the way to physical abuse and corruption. At the lower level, abusing sick leave typically occurs when officers want a certain amount of time off, these types of sick leave usually happen on workdays and especially on the days they get denied vacation. On sick leave police officers still get paid, when in reality the offending police officer is not actually ill. Other police officers in the workforce may know of this abusive method, however, they do not want to report these offences to the upper officers as they would then lose their friendship and loyalty to the police officer. The offending group would then exclude them socially and it could escalate to physical violence. On the lower level these type of offences do not seem like they affect society, however, the offending officers here are taking money from the government budget for task enforcement with no noticeable increase in the effectiveness of the police taskforce. On a higher level, physical abuse and corruption are also neglected by other police officers. When an offending police officer commits
The police handle an essential part in society as its protectors. The law enforcement officers look out for the citizens and try to protect their safety and happiness whenever possible. Throughout the years, however; the society has questioned the use of force, racism and internal corruption as well as other forms of misconduct by officers of the law. Some people claim that many of these problems are misconstrued by the media and blown out of capacity; these officers are simply doing their job. Others argue that these circumstances can be drawn back to poor training and policies. Others maintain that the whole system needs to be changed and that with the rise in crime; officers have become enforcers more than protectors.
Police misconduct has been in existence since the 1600’s, European Influence on American Policing. Ironically, Police Officers in modern day continue the legacy of the police “culture” (Barry, 1999). A culture of abuse of authority or discretion, code of silence amongst officers, discrimination, and a strong belief that “cops — and firefighters — stick together, in life and death situations” (Wetendorf, 2004). Regardless of the abuse of authority officers conduct, it is a clear sign of poor ethics and morals amongst officers.
When I thought about “police corruption” the first example that came to mind is Mexico and all the dirty cops who work for the cartels. The thought of corruption in the United States is laughable to most. The United States is viewed as a place of freedom, honor, and home of the brave, but the fact remains that corruption is everywhere and can be unrelenting.
For years police corruption has been a major problem in American society but where is the line between moral and unethical police corruption, many modern movies address this vary issue. Some films portray how types of police corruption can have a positive influence on society, while others show the dark side of police corruption. Many law enforcement agents join the criminal justice with the basic idea of “justice for all,” however, most of them do not realize that the nice guy doesn’t always win. Even though there are vast amounts of movies which specifically address police corruption we will use three main movies for our argument today, mostly LA Confidential, however, also Training Day.