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Posted on July 27th, 2012, by

Traditionally, police was the major law enforcement agency which targeted at the protection of ordinary citizens from offenses and crimes from the part of those people who could not and did not want to live in accordance with legal norms of the society. However, in the course of time, as the role of the police increased and this agency grew more and more powerful and employed a large number of professionals, the problem of the corruption within the police became one of the most serious problems. In fact, the police corruption produces an extremely negative impact on the public image of the police and, what is more important, it undermines relationships between the police and local community because people do not trust to the police and they are not confident in the reliability of the police officers. On the other hand, it is because of the lack of the community control over the police, some police officers get corrupted and attempt to improve their financial position through various gratuities.

Potentially, the problem of police corruption can undermine the entire institution of the police as a law enforcement agency. For the police gets corrupted its public image changes dramatically and from a law enforcement agency it evolves into a corrupted, unreliable or even dangerous agency which people cannot rely on. In such a situation, various criminology theories cannot remain indifferent to the problem of the police corruption because this problems produces a destructive impact on one of the major institutions which play a crucial role in any criminology theory. It proves beyond a doubt that there is no criminology without law enforcement agencies since as there are crimes, which are the main subjects of the criminological research, than there should be agencies and institutions that investigate crimes, prevent them if possible, and punish the criminals. All these procedures are virtually impossible without the police and, therefore, the police corruption becomes the major concerns of criminology theories because it undermines the institution of law enforcement agencies and the entire system of justice at large and police in particular.

Identification and discussion of the literature

The problem of the police corruption naturally draws the attention of many specialists working in the field of criminology. The interest of researchers to the police corruption can be easily explained by the role the police plays in the contemporary society. Today, the role of the police has increased consistently compared to the past epochs since the maintenance of the social order and prevention of crimes need an effective work of the police which is one of the major law enforcement agencies which assist the judicial system. At the same time, the increased role of the police in the contemporary society contributed to the growth of the corruption within the police because police officers are more important today than they used to be in the past, while rights of the police have been enlarged consistently in recent years, especially after the implementation of the Patriot Act in 2001 (Reiman, 2006).

As a result, the police has increased its power and influence in the contemporary society and, therefore, people working within the police have got larger opportunities to use their power in their interests. Such a situation leads to the growing problem of the police corruption since some police officers attempt to improve their financial position by means of gratuities they receive for their action or, what is more often, for their non-action in relation to people who tend to anti-social behavior or, to put it in simple words, to criminals and offenders (Brantingham and Brantingham, 1991). In this respect, it is important to underline that causes of the police corruption can be different and specialists can have different views of this problem depending on the theoretical ground on which they stand. To put it more precisely, the General Crime Theory, for instance, can explain the problem of the police corruption by internal inclinations of police officers which define their behavior and their susceptibility to the corruption (Barak, 1998). In other words, the police corruption, according to the position of supporters of the General Crime Theory, is provoked by personal characteristics of the police officers and, therefore, it is rather a problem of the recruitment procedures than the problem of the ineffective performance and internal regulations within the police or its inability to cooperate effectively with the community. In contrast, supporters of the Strain and Delinquency Theory stand on the ground that the police corruption is rather the problem of the contemporary society than the personal problem of some police officers (Hayward, 2004). What is meant here is the fact that the corruption is the result of social relations between police officers and the rest of the society. In practice, according to the Strain and Delinquency

Theory, the corruption may be provoked by the low social status of police officers for instance, which does not meet their expectations, or the dissatisfaction of police officers with their current position, while offenders, in contrast, can use their social impact and financial resources to influence the police. The latter is particularly relevant in regard to the organized crime.

In such a situation, it is obvious that the lack of interoperability and effective communication of the police with the public leads to the widening gap between the police and the public that naturally decreases the effectiveness of the work of the police and increases the disbelief of the public in the ability of the police to decrease consistently the level of crime rates and prevent crimes in the community (Barak, 1998). In this respect, it is important to underline the great prospects of the police communication interoperability in the current situation. In fact, the police communication interoperability has considerable benefits that can improve the work of the police, its effectiveness, and the cooperation of the police with the public.

In fact, the cooperation of the police and the public is extremely important because it can serve as an effective preventive measure against the spread of the corruption within the police (Hayward, 2004). The public control over the police is of the utmost importance because police officers cannot exercise their power in their personal interests if they are under the control of the community. It is obvious that it is impossible to get gratuities in the result of some actions or non-actions of police officers without being uncovered if the public control over the police works effectively (Barak, 1998).

In actuality, many people view the police as a law enforcement agency that maintains the public order but these people do not think that the maintenance of the existing order and the prevention of crimes is the common duty of the police and the public. In fact, the potential of the public in the prevention of crimes is huge but people are often unconscious of their ability to contribute to the prevention of crimes in the area they live in. Instead, they heavily rely on the police making no efforts to assist to the police or even criticizing police officers for the ineffective work.

In this respect, it is important to underline the fact that the interaction of the community with the police can contribute consistently to the minimization of the police corruption. In fact, the cooperation of the police and community makes them interdependent (Brantingham and Brantingham, 1991). This means that the police is dependent on the assistance of the community in regard to the crime prevention, while the community is confident in the police and its reliability. Such relationships naturally exclude or, at least, minimize the risk of corruption because the possibility of getting some gratuities decreases as police officers work hand by hand with ordinary citizens, who assist the police. Consequently, any material rewards are unnecessary since people do not actually need to force the police work more effectively with the help of gratuities. Instead, they can do it through their active social position and active interaction with the police. For instance, a police cannot ignore public appeals and it has to undertake actions in response to public appeals or complaints (Barak, 1998). On the other hand, the non-action of the police in relation to criminals is impossible because the public is involved in the process of the maintenance of the public order, if the police and community closely cooperate (Hayward, 2004). In practice, this means that the police cannot actually ignore offenses when it interacts with the public and it has to react in accordance with the existing legal norms without any material rewards. Anyway, the public control and interaction between the police and community can minimize the risk of the corruption since they contribute to the high publicity of the police and clarity of its work. Ideally, the police should report regularly on the current situation and the public should have a possibility to control the work of the police.

In this respect, the Strain and Delinquency Theory justifies the cooperation between the police and community because it improves social relations and minimize the risk of the violation of law because of the formation of positive relationships between the police and community. In contrast, supporters (Barak, 1998) of the General Crime Theory are more skeptical in this regard because the change of social relations does not change human nature.

Consequently, if a police officer has inclinations to corruption than he or she will more likely get corrupted.

Nevertheless, supporters of the General Crime Theory admit the possibility of the change of individual characteristics of police officers because of the formation of the positive personal experience in the result of the interaction with ordinary people (Reiman, 2006).

Discussion of the findings

Obviously, theoretical assumptions of both the General Crime Theory and the Strain and Delinquency Theory have their own strengths and weaknesses. Obviously, the General Crime Theory basically lays emphasis on individual characteristics and inclinations as major causes of the police corruption, while the Strain and Delinquency Theory is more socially-oriented and, therefore, it explains the police corruption by social factors mainly. Nevertheless, both theories insist on the necessity of the prevention of the police corruption and many specialists (Barak, 1998) are focused on the search of effective ways of the prevention of the police corruption.

In such a context, the development of the police communication interoperability can solve numerous problems and close the gap between the police and the public. To put it more precisely, the police should develop actively the interaction with the public and the communication of police officers with the public is the first step on the way to the effective interoperability. What is meant here is the fact that the police should actively develop its public relations programs in order to inform the public about the existing risks and threats concerning the crime. In such a way, the police can inform the public concerning the danger of being victimized as well as give certain recommendations concerning the basic norms of behavior which can protect people from becoming of offenders or event preventing a crime. In this respect, it is very important that the police officers who struggle daily with criminals and offenders cooperated closely with psychologists. This cooperation would contribute to the development of more effective programs of interaction between the police and the public as well as the information and recommendations provided by the police will be more effective if psychologists closely cooperate with police officers who come across offenders regularly. The police officers can provide information on the basic crimes and risks, while psychologists can define major psychological characteristics of criminals, which help work out effective strategies of the prevention of crimes, when the information is delivered to the public. For instance, the police officers share their experience and observations of the behavior of criminals, such as robbers, with psychologists. The latter make a psychological analysis of the behavior of a typical offender, a robber, for instance, and define typical psychological characteristics of the offender. On the basis of this information, it is possible to work out measures which can prevent the crime, since people will know how to behave in order to avoid robbery. In fact, this strategy may be applied in relation to other crimes and offenders. In such a way, on the basis of practical and psychological information about criminals and reasons for which they commit crimes specialist can work out effective ways of the prevention of these crimes giving the public recommendations on the behavior and developing action plans in case of the commitment of a crime. Thus, the public, being informed and warned, can assist the police or even prevent crimes even without the interference of police since sometimes victims provoke criminals to the commitment of crimes.

At the same time, it is very important to improve interoperability within the police in order to increase the effectiveness of its work and, what is more, it is also possible to facilitate in the communication between the public and the police. In this respect, the introduction of the new information technologies and information systems as well as the latest means of communication may be particularly effective. Actually, the contemporary IT and IS open huge opportunities for the effective communication between police departments and units. The modern communication systems allow police officers to communicate regardless of the physical distance. Consequently, the police can react more effectively and faster on any offense or crimes due to the use of new IT, IS and communications, which can help not only get information about the crime but also locate the scene of the crime and develop an effective plan of detaining the offender or offenders. In addition, new systems of surveillance can be effective tools of prevention of crimes, but such systems need the agreement from the part of the public. Hence, it is necessary to communicate with the local community and convince people to introduce new systems of surveillance. In this respect, the assistance of PR professionals and psychologists may be needed. Also, it is possible to organize regular meetings of police officer who patrol the area regularly with the local community. In the process of communication of the police officers and local people they can better understand each other’s problems and, what is more they can find more effective way of the work of the police and its cooperation with the local community. For instance, the criticism of the police from the part of the local community can reveal drawbacks in the work of police officers. In such a way, it will be possible to minimize the risk of corruption and make the work of the police more open to the public.

Conclusion

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the problem of the police corruption is a serious threat to the existing social order. The police corruption may be provoked by a variety of factors and it is likely provoked by a complex of factors including both personal and social factors. Nevertheless, the effective solution of the problem of the police corruption is possible only when the police is under the public control and closely cooperates with community.

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