It is known that the majority of police officers are committed to perform their duties in a proper way and provide competent public service demonstrating integrity, loyalty and accountability. However, in some police agencies one can find the so-called “element of dishonesty, lack of professionalism and criminal behavior”¯, in accordance with Geoff Dean and Petter Gottschalk (16). Today the prevalence of police deviance and misconduct is widely discussed in literature. Police corruption occurs when a police officer uses his authority for his own personal gain, including the acceptance of bribes, and committing such illegal acts as theft or burglary. In accordance with the Knapp Commission investigation of 1972, there are two types of police officers involved in corruption: “grass eaters”¯ and “meat eaters”¯ (Hess 426). Grass eaters are those police officers who positively accept gratuities and bribes that people offer to them, while meat eaters are those who aggressively accept bribes. Meat eaters actively participate in corruption practices. It was also found that those police officers who are not directly involved in corruption, but who ignore this illegal activity, also have direct relation to police corruption as they allow corruption in police to flourish in our society. Some researchers state that “corruption is endemic to police culture across the globe”¯, while others argue that such incidents are rare in today’s police environment (Geoff & Gottschalk 17). Nevertheless, incidents of police corruption do surface from time to time not only in the USA, but also in other countries of the world.
In the USA, recent police corruption cases “have underscored the link between police corruption and illegal drug activities”¯ (Stana 1). Richard M. Stana’s report explored the impact of drug trafficking activities on police corruption in such cities as New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Washington and Philadelphia.
For example, it was reported that in 1993-1994, New Orleans police officers violated the US law and protected a large cocaine supply warehouse which contained more than 286 pounds of cocaine. Due to the FBI undercover investigation, 11 police officers, who were paid about $100,000 by undercover agents, were convicted and arrested. Two more police officers were under indictment in April 1998. The FBI investigation was terminated when the police officers who were involved in corruption killed a witness. It is known that one of the police officers was “sentenced to death for ordering a hit on a woman who filed a civil rights complaint against him”¯ (Barker 6). Although a number of reforms were instituted after this case, they did not solve the existing problems connected with corruption in police. It is found that the recent New Orleans editorial Times Picayune “calls the New Orleans Police Department one of the ineffective and corruptive police forces in the USA (Barker 6). The statistics shows that from 1993 to 1995 more than 50 police officers from the NOPD were arrested, indicted and convicted on corruption connected with drug trafficking.
Another example also proves the fact that corruption in police exists and should be stopped. In Chicago, “seven officers of the Tactical Unit of the 15th District were indicted in December 1996 on federal charges for allegedly using their positions, skills, and experiences as police officers”¯. They were involved in criminal activity with drug dealers ”“they robbed and extorted large sums of money and narcotics from drug dealers who had their illegal business in Chicago, in accordance with the report (Stana 36). In Los Angeles, the FBI undercover operation revealed that 27 Sheriff’s deputies and 1 police officer were involved in corruption activity. By 1994, they had been convicted for corrupting practices. In the Miami Police Department, there were a number of drug-related cases in the late 1980s, which “resulted in the arrest, suspension, or punishment of more than 100 police officers”¯ (Stana 36). It was found that corruption in police occurred as a result of community changes and departmental problems. Special attention was paid to selection and recruitment of the police personnel. It was recommended to select candidates based on their experience in police and military service. In 1980s, a group of police officers from Miami Police Department stole a large amount of cocaine and money from a drug dealer’s boat. The FBI investigation proved the fact that about 10% of the Miami police officers were involved in the corruption practices (Stana 17). Ā In Los Angeles Police Department, one of the former police officers admitted in the court that the money taken from the suspect drug dealers was not officially recorded in the police department, while the family members of the suspect drug dealer worked as the informants who testified against other suspected drug-dealers.
In addition, the GAO report of 1998 shows that half of all police officers involved in corruption practices between 1993 and 1998 were involved in drug-related illegal activity. In fact, drug-related police corruption practices in the USA involved those individuals or groups of individuals who conducted unconstitutional searches and seizures and made everything possible to protect drug dealers, providing false data in crime reports and false testimony. Many experts state that corruption in police will exist as long as the drug trade remains illegal in the USA. Moreover, harsher punishments for illegal drug trade can drive the majority of drug dealers to bribery in order to have protection from the police officers involved in corruption practices. According to the FBI report, “drug-related corruption practices involve state and local law enforcement officials”¯ (Stana 3). It is revealed that there are two major factors associated with corruption practices in police: the police culture and the maturity and education level of police personnel. The police culture is characterized by the adherence to the code of silence and loyalty to other police officers, while the lack of experience and poor education prove that the police officers may be involved in illicit drug related practices (Stana 4). As a rule, those police officers who are involved in drug-related corruption practices can be engaged in such criminal activities, as conducting unconstitutional searches and seizures; stealing money or drugs from drug dealers in the course of operation; selling confiscated or stolen drugs; protecting drug dealers; providing false testimony in the court; and submitting false crime reports (Stana 8).
Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā CONCLUSION
In conclusion, it is necessary to say that the significance of integrity and accountability of police officers has already been discussed in our society. In accordance with the United Nations, a great majority of police officers perform their duties with high standards of personal and procedural integrity. However, some police officers are dishonest and demonstrate lack of professionalism and criminal behavior, in spite of their training. The cases of police corruption discussed in this paper occurred in the 1980s- 1990s, but it does not mean that today there is no corruption in police. That is why it is necessary to develop and implement the appropriate strategies to stop police corruption.