Police Corruption

Abstract

The American society has gone through difficult times due to police brutality and misconduct mainly because of corruption that has threatened to interfere with the very survival of society. In the mid 19th century to early 20th century, clandestine police forces were popular and the representatives of Pinkerton’s and other police forces available for hire were infamous since brutal employers utilized their services to quell violence against striking workers.

Heavy-handed law enforcement coupled with illegal groups such as Ku Klux Klan acting through vigilantism denied individuals their civil rights formulated in the 1871. The law provided that it was illegal for state law to interfere with an individual’s constitutional rights under the national rules. In early 21st century, section 1983 of the 1871 act became one of the important instruments of fighting police brutality and injustice in society (Klockars, 2000).

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The 20th century witnessed lawful, organizational, and scholarly models to the issue. Some developments in the state fought the criminality of the state machinery indirectly, such as the endorsement of the civil rights in 1964. The passage of the act protected individuals who had undergone psychological and physical pain due to police misconduct.

Furthermore, the landmark rulings by the Court gave the public powers and authority against the actions of police officers. For instance, the Fourth Amendment prevented police officers from searching and seizing and individual without court permission (Goldstein, 1975). Even though legal protection and well-planned reforms exist, police brutality has persisted and people are still suffering in the hands of the state machinery.

Furthermore, the extent at which people encounter police brutality is unknown to the public due to a number of reasons. Misconduct issues among police officers are usually quantified based on each city even though information provided is subjective (Klockars, 2000). Furthermore, the levels of corruption are even harder to measure. The studies should be undertaken to determine the levels of corruption in the police force.

To do this, a number of research hypothesis are to be formulated. Again, the researcher should undertaken a research to determine the effective utilization of personality measures to identify officers who are prone to corruption. Finally, the researcher would suggest some recommendations on how to end the problem. For all these to happen, the problem statement is to be defined clearly at an early onset of research.

Introduction

Corruption is a variable that has been defined variously by many scholars. On one hand, it has been defined as the violation of regional and national laws. Others view it as the violation of personal rights contained in the constitution by police officers. Another group of scholars perceives it as the commitment of crime by police officers to achieve personal interests. In general, corruption refers to police misbehavior and abuses of police authority.

From the definitions, the term refers to a number of technical, illegal and civil infringements. In this respect, misconduct is the broad category of civil violation. Misconduct becomes technical in case it is used to refer to police officers who go against the policies and rules of the police service.

The term is used to criminal in case it is utilized to refer to violation of state and national laws by police officers. Finally, it is used to refer to unconstitutional in case the rights and freedoms of citizens are contravened by police officers in any state or in any part of the country. There are a number of police misconducts including excessive utilization of physical or lethal force, prejudiced arrest, physical or verbal pestering, and discriminatory enforcement of law (Rozella, 2003).

The law protects citizens from police brutality but the issue of corruption and misconduct still exist in society. In fact, the department of police has always strived to produce quality police officers through setting up of the professional codes of conduct, reviewing the training needs of officers and conducting credible investigations and subsequent punishment of officers in case found guilty.

However, these have never stopped corruption among police officers. This paper will therefore conduct a research to establish the why corruption is a commonplace in the American society. The paper employs research methodologies to determine measure carefully the existing problem. From the collected data, the paper comes up with conclusions and recommendations that would change the state of affairs as regards to corruption.

Problem Statement

Since 1999, the American society has witnessed various police misconduct issues. In the same year, there was a worst scandal ever involving the Los Angeles Department’s Rampart borders and certainly, its elite anti-gang unit referred to as the CRASH (Community Resources against Street Hoodlums). Upon investigation, both local and state, CRASH was banned and seventy officers were taken in for investigations.

A number of police officers were found guilty of misconducts while several of them were convicted mainly because of drug trafficking, larceny, promoting mugging, tempering with arrests and filing bogus reports. The Rampart humiliation brought about many problems to the police force. It bore heavy costs to the policy makers in the force, which were both financial in nature and psychological. Much criminal fervor accredited to the work of corrupt individuals in the work force was overturned by the court.

By 2003, the police force in the city had already lost over $40 in lawsuits. Consequently, the 2000 agreement between the Lo Angeles city council and the federal government put the police in the city under the custodianship of the judge for five years. The judge was to monitor reforms and evaluate the activities of the police.

Compared to other agencies in the country, the Los Angeles police force is no exceptional. In 1990s, the New York City’s wide-ranging reforms were put into sport light following the high-profile cases involving police misconduct (Giuliani, 1995). The New York cases proved that it was difficult to handle cases involving police misconduct. The first case was put forth in 1997 where a Haitian migrant was thoroughly beaten under police custody.

The foreigner was said to have been harassed sexually since cases of sodomy were also reported. In 2000, the police officers were jailed for interfering with individual freedom and justices. However, the court overturned the ruling in the United States v. Schwarz. The second New York hullabaloo pertained to the killing of an unarmed man in 1999. The undercover officers allegedly shot the Guinean migrant 41 times.

Citizens protested against the actions of the police unit referred to as the Aggressive Street Crimes. The officers were set free in 2000 controversially. The police brutality and rampant corruption has led to public outcry where demonstrations have been mounted to disown the misconduct of the police. In the contemporary world, police have accused of beating and harassing a black American citizen who was found in the street.

In 2001, the court set free one police officer who was allegedly accused of shooting a black man. The American populace blames police brutality on defective policies that insist on aggressive policing on matters pertaining on drugs, street crimes and street gangs. Police department is of the governmental agencies that are known to resist change in society.

Due to these problems, city council authorities, the ministries of justice and state security, and renowned criminologists have launched studies to establish ways that can bring about reforms in the police service.

Upon this realization, this paper sets out to reinforce the findings of other scholars as they attempt to find solutions to the existing problems. Therefore, the paper collects data in order to analyze the same data to reach at important conclusions and recommendations.

Variables

In this research paper, the researcher is interested in testing variables such as crime rates, crime reporting, personality traits of officers, and police corruption. The research tests various hypotheses that are associated with the interaction between them. The hypotheses may perhaps be combined to arrive at various equations. For instance, the following equations can be arrived at.

Crime= f (corruption in the police force, crime reporting, A, B1)

Crime reporting = g (Corruption in the force, crime A, B2)

Police corruption=h (Crime rates, reporting of crime A, B3)

Each category of the equations above consists of exogenous variables A, which are universal to all statements. Exogenous variables B are particular to each equation. In other words, variables B refer to those tools that assist the researcher to classify the systematic factors.

Factors in the exogenous variables X, which affect the operations of police in each state may include low incomes and inequality in terms of salaries, the level of education attained by officers and ethnic/racial disparities. Scholars view these factors to be responsible for crime. Results expected after measuring these variables would: the rates of crime increase when inequalities increase. Furthermore, urbanization and racial disparities tend to increase the rates of crime in any city.

In case police officers are taken through rigorous training system with better equipments and clear curriculum, corruption would decrease. The rates of crime would also decrease. In other words, this shows that the crime reporting rates tend to be positively correlated with the level of training. In this regard, it is negatively correlated with the salary inequalities among civil servants.

Urbanization tends to affect crime reporting positively since people are aware of their rights in an urban setting. Ethnicity and racial differences affect crime-reporting practices negatively, especially when communities distrust each other. Consequently, police corruption would definitely reduce in case the population is educated. Corruption is high in case ethnic differences and income inequalities are allowed in society.

In any research study, variables must be measured. The researcher would not have achieved his or her mission in case variables are not measured. In this study, income equality is measured using the Gini coefficient. Furthermore, the level of education is measured using the literacy rate scale.

The researcher opted for the literacy rate scale as opposed to inquiring about the number of years an individual has been attending classes because the former covers many states. Ethnic/racial differences are measured using the ethno-linguistic fractionalization index as suggested by Creswell (2003). According to this measurement instrument, two individuals taken randomly are expected to belong to different ethnic/racial groups.

Moreover, it is a fact that endogenous variables are expected to affect other variables in any research. In this case, it is important to tackle all issues related to corruption in the police force and the issues related to reporting crimes. These variables are used to calculate regression in the equations.

It is surprising that finding appropriate measurement instruments for endogenous variables is problematic. For a variable to be measured, it should be exogenous, correlated with endogenous variables and be in a position to manipulate the dependent variable in any study. The following equations are used to show how exogenous variables play off in research.

B1 (crime) =the extent of punishment, the age of the population, the attitudes of the populace as regards to crime, the provision of the constitution regarding corruption

B2 (crime reporting) =activism, the composition of human organizations

B3 (police corruption) =attitudes of the officers and the public towards bribery and the influence of diplomats and other officers in government with high ranks and political influence

Hypotheses

Every research in social sciences attempts to prove that a specific phenomenon occurs due to a specific reason. Conducting a research is like a walk in the desert without a guiding map to show clear directions that should be taken in order to reach the desired direction.

Hakim (2000) warns that care should be taken by every researcher when conducting a research to ensure that he or she does not wonder off the focus of the study just by the sheer wonder of the research in question. A path should clearly be set, upon which the research would take.

Research hypothesis always provides solution to this. Leedy and Ormrod (2005) define hypothesis as a proposition made by the researcher about the research upon which the research would try to determine if it is true or otherwise. Hypothesis is a kind of a proposal or a guess that the findings of a particular research would be in a particular way.

As Hakim (2000) notes, a research would always have two hypotheses for every single desired result. There is always the null hypothesis and alternate hypothesis. The null hypothesis would always refute the claim by saying that the proposition does not hold. On the other hand, alternative hypothesis would always try to affirm that the proposition set by the researcher holds.

A test would always be conducted on the null hypothesis with an aim of rejecting it. By rejecting a null hypothesis, the research would be accepting the alternative hypothesis. It is always every researchers desire to reject a null hypothesis because when a research accepts a null hypothesis, it would render the whole research unnecessary. It would be rejecting the proposition made by the researcher, a fact that would render the research null and void. The following hypotheses would be designed to guide the research.

H1: Corruption is the police force would possibly lead to higher rates of crime in various parts of the country. This is because criminals are able to buy justice, merit might not be considered in the police force and police forces might turn out to be gangs.

H2: Crime augments corruption in the police force since the level of criminality may infect the police. In this case, the criminals might compromise the police to arrest innocent people in society.

H3: Crime reporting is always expected to reduce the rate at which corruption takes place within the police force. In case a crime is reported, it is impossible for a police officer to set free a criminal. If reported, corrupt officers might be punished by the state.

H4: Cases of corruption in the police force reduces the trust held by the public towards the agencies in charge of law enforcement. This would even discourage the culture of crime reporting.

H5: Reporting criminal activities to the state authorities reduce crimes since lawbreakers fear being caught.

H6: Increased cases of crime tend to discourage the culture of reporting crimes since the people feels demoralized, as criminals are set free. This would lead to cases of mob-justice as the only way of ensuring justice.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Approach

Political science and Public Administration investigators generally employ two categories of exploration processes. First is quantitative study, which utilizes mathematical indicators to determine the relative magnitude of a certain political or bureaucratic occurrence. The second category of exploration process is qualitative study, which uses symbols and expressions to point out the occurrence or lack of an event or classify them into various forms.

Quantitative and qualitative annotations offer public administration canvassers a number of ways as regards to Operationalization of concepts and calculation of hypothetical constructs, as well as realistic conception (Crotty, 2003). Whereas quantitative techniques can offer a high level of quantity accuracy and arithmetical supremacy, qualitative techniques can provide a superior intensity of information concerning the nature of administrative progression in a certain study environment.

The well-designed or positivist archetype that steers the quantitative method of analysis is based on the supposition that public truth has an objective ontological configuration and that people react to this objective setting. Data collection in quantitative study is through questionnaire.

The researcher seeks to solicit information by posing questions to the respondents. The major aim of the quantitative prototype is to ensure reliability, validity and generalization of a problem in its patent prediction of cause and effect. Validity is utilized in establishing whether a study measures what it is projected to measure and to estimate the truth of the outcomes. The researcher ensures that both internal and external validities are observed in the study. Internal validity is catered for through careful manipulation of the results.

Qualitative study shares the hypothetical postulations of the interpretative model, which is based on the view that public truth is shaped and upheld through personal knowledge. Qualitative investigators are apprehensive in their investigations while trying to precisely illustrate, translate and understand the meanings of occurrences taking place in their normal public perspectives.

Qualitative researchers are focused on scrutinizing the difficulty, legitimacy, collective subjectivity of the investigator and the respondent as well as minimization of misapprehension (Russell & Ryan, 2009). Data collection methods include observation and use of interviews. Observation allows the researcher to analyze the causes of human behavior. Validity in qualitative research is ensured through triangulation of methods, techniques and tools.

This study employed a quantitative approach in order to arrive at strong results and conclusions. While quantitative techniques may function well in separating and categorizing the correlates linked to discrepancy at particular periods, qualitative methods are mainly superior at achieving insight as regards to processes and actions that causes practical deviation and have the main benefit of giving sudden insight.

Creswell and other scholars made intuitive theoretical structure pertaining to mixed methods, mainly concerning issues of excellence (Creswell, 2003). Mixed methods not only enlarge the study toolbox, they as well offer the chance for fusion of study customs and offer the researcher extra viewpoints and insights that are past the span of any solitary method.

Research Design

There were two key methods used to gather information in this report. The first one was through a questionaire, which was administered online to the staff at police department. The questionaire sought to capture various attutudes of staff at the police department regarding their performance and isses related to corruption.

The second source of information used for the research was literature on various aspects motivation. The focus of the literature review was to find information on the application of corruption determent techniques and also to determine the current state of research in the use of curruption prevention instruments.

The questionnaire had four Parts. The first part sought to capture the biodata information of respondents. The second part dealt with the demography and gender of the respondents. This was to ascertain the prevalence of views in varoius categories in order to ensure that if any differences came about, then they would be captured in their demographic space.

The third part dealt with academic credentials and work experience. The motivation for this section came from the understanding that different sections of population respond differently to motivators, based on age and academic credentials. The fourth part delved into the specific issues relating to curruption, starting from the understanding of the concept to the possible effects it would have on police officers (Leedy, & Ormrod, 2005).

The questionaire also employed a mix of open ended and closed ended questions to capture different aspects of issues studied. Open ended questions were used because thay give respondents more time to figure out their opinions, which would make them volunteer more information related to feelings, outlooks and comprehension of the subject. This would allow the researcher to understand the position of respondents as regards to feelings.

Open ended questions minimize some errors that could have been created in the course of research. Respondents rarely forget answers if given an opportunity to respond freely. Furthermore, respondents cannot ignore some questions because they must go through all of them. Open ended questions generate data that can be used in data analysis by other researchers. In other words, they allow secondary data analysis. On the other hand, closed-ended questions are analyzed easily. That is why they were used in this study.

Each response can be coded for statistical interpretation. Nonetheless, closed-ended questions are compatible with computer analysis package. The technique is more specific meaning that its answers are consistent in all conditions. This aspect is impossible with open-ended questions because each respondent is allowed to use his or her own words. Finally, closed-ended questions take less time to administer unlike open-ended questions, which are detailed hence time consuming.

The questionnaire was sent to respondents through the internet that is, the researcher mailed the questions to respective police respondents. The researcher arrived at this decision after considering time and reseources.

The method is costless and less time consuming. Furthmore, the method allows respondents to reflect on the questions and answer them accurately. Employing research assistants would be problematic because of the sensitivity of the study.

Many people would be reluctant to give their views freely. The method is ineffective because answers are not independent. The respondent might not have filled the questions him or herself. Moreover, the method is affected by the respondent’s level of literacy. One big disadvantage of the technique is that there is no interaction between the researcher and the researched.

This means that respondent’s reactions are not captured. Reactions are important because they give more information regarding to the feelings of respondents. Generally, the technique is more applicable where the researcher is interested in numbers, not deep feelings of the respondent. In this study, the researcher is interested in identifying the number of employees who feel performance related pay is the suitable method of stimulating employees.

The use of the questionaire made it possible to capture issues that are unique to the department of police. This is because there was no accessible literature with required degree of relevence to the subject matter about the department of police. The targeted staff responded to the questionaire online.

The availability of staff influenced the choice of this method because the police operates throughout and therefore it is not possible at any one time to find all officers in one place. An online questionaire reduced the costs of data collection, assured confidentiality, and was available throughout for the staff for a fixed period. After collection, the data went through analysis, culminating to the conclusions and findings discussed in the subsequent sections of this paper.

Findings

Through analysis, it was estblished that police corruption in the US is caused by a number of reasons. Furthermore, respondents argued that some policies should be formulated to contain the vice, which is very common in the force. It was found out that corruption in the police force is caused by cultural practices among the members of the force.

This is what some police chiefs referred to as “the bad or rotten apples”. The rotten apples are mostly weak individuals who might have entered the force through corruption hence failing to go through the usual screening process. Going by the views of police chiefs, only a few individuals are corrupt in the police force. Contrary to the opinion of police chiefs, critics of the force claim that the whole force is rotten.

It can also be established that irresistible chances offered to police officers make them corrupt. These factors include low wages and salaries, pessimism sorrounding the pay system and promotion, socialization process in the police force, political culture in various states that support corruption, non-reproting of crimes among the public and ineffective leadership on the side of government. The constituion gives the police a blank check as regards to individual freedom. This makes the public seek for an alternative way of compromizing the work of police.

Peratning to solutions to the problem of corruption in the police force, respondents gave various views. Some members respondents underscored the fact that police corruption have numerous effects in society.

Firstly, it affects public trust where the members of public try to use unscrupulous means of obtaining justice such as mob-justice. Furthermore, other organs of government tend to ape the behavior of police officers. Therefore, the findings of the research suggest that the main way through corruption can be avoided is offering police officers a good salary package.

Furthermore, the federal government, in collaboration with various states, should come up with training programs aiming at instiling ethics to the officers. Furthermore, the research reveals that police officers tend to shy away from misconduct in places where they are new. Therefore, the federal government should always ensure that tranfers are held after every six months. Finally, the government at both levels should come up with departments that handle public complains.

Conclusion

Corruption in the police service is a problem that has existed since time in memorial. It is found in almost all police departments. In society, lawa enforcers have the responsibility of ensuring that justice is achieved. The police agency holds the trust of the public. However, research shows that the trust can be lost in case police officers engage in corruption. This would lead to cases of non-reporting, which might even even crimes in the country.

It is therefore advisable that the police department handles the issue of corruption with the seriousness that it deserves. In case an officer is suspected to have engaged in corruption, thorough, independent, and credible investigations should be conducted. The state has the sole responsibility of ensuring that the security of citizens is mainatined at all costs. Corrupt officials should not be allowed to serve in any public office.

References

Creswell, J. (2003). Research design: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Crotty, M. (2003). The Foundations of Social Research: meaning and perspective in the research process. London: Sage.

Giuliani, R. (1995). Police Strategy No.7: Rooting Out Corruption; Building Organizational Integrity in the New York Police Department. New York: New York Police Department.

Goldstein, H. (1975). Police Corruption: A perspective on its nature. Washington: Police Foundation.

Hakim, C 2000, Research Design: Sucessful Designs for Social and Economic Research, Routledge, New York.

Klockars, C. (2000). The Measurement of Police Integrity. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice.

Leedy, P., & Ormrod, J. (2005). Practical Research: Planning and Design. Prentice Hall: Pearson.

Rozella, F. (2003). Fighting Police Abuse: A Community Action Manual. ACLU Department of Public Education, 3(1).

Russell, B., & Ryan, G. (2009). Analyzing Qualitative Data: Systematic Approaches. London: Sage.

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