Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Crime: Police Corruption & Misconduct

By:  Monique Brockington

Society has grappled with misconduct and corruption issues for as long as it has had police officers. Police corruption is the abuse of police authority for personal gain. Corruption may involve profit or another type of material benefit gained illegally as a consequence of the officer's authority. Typical forms of corruption include bribery, extortion, receiving or fencing stolen goods, and selling drugs. Misconduct is the broadest category. Misconduct is "procedural" when it refers to police who violate police department rules and regulations; "criminal" when it refers to police who violate state and federal laws. Common forms of misconduct are excessive use of physical or deadly force, discriminatory arrest, physical or verbal harassment, and selective enforcement of the law. Many aspects of law enforcement have changed; however, one aspect has relatively stayed the same, which is the existence of corruption. 





Police corruption is a complex phenomenon, which does not readily submit to simple analysis, it is a problem that has and will continue to affect us all. Large groups of corrupt police have been caught in New York, New Orleans, Washington, DC and Los Angeles. I want to focus more on the corruption within the city of Philadelphia. The reality is that it affects us all physically, mentally, emotionally, and most important financially. The falsely accused citizens suffers from having to fight a case or serving time for a crime that they didn't commit, all because the "BADGE" is held at a higher standard of authority over other citizens, "our word against yours". When you think about criminal activity, the first thing that comes to mind is a deviant, not the police. With that in mind who do you trust? It's like reporting criminal activities to another criminal .....where's the logic in that?  People begin to lose their trust & faith in the system that was made to protect the rights of citizens. The tragedy of these prime time police scandals is that they give a black eye to the the police officer who has integrity and refrains from committing even a minor act that could be construed as misconduct. A greater tragedy occurs when citizens of the community and the nation lose their confidence in the police, it destroyed their reputation. Financially, we all suffer due to our tax dollars that is issued to law enforcement to do a job that a fraction of them don't do. Not to mention that when the police officers misuse their authority, and the victims issues these lawsuits to our governor.....it's the same tax dollars being paid to settle these suits that we pay them to protect and serve. Police misconduct has cost the city of Philadelphia $20 million in the settlement of over 200 civil cases in the last 28 months, the socio-economic costs are any one's guess. 





The powers given by the state to the police to use force have always caused concern. Although improvements have been made to control police corruption & misconduct, numerous opportunities exist for deviant, corrupt practices. The opportunity to acquire power in excess of that which is legally permitted or to misuse power is always available. Police corruption can involve a single officer or group of officers, or can be the standard practice of entire police precincts or departments. In most major cities there are internal affairs sections to investigate suspected police corruption or misconduct. One step in the right direction, however, is the monitoring and control of the police and the appropriate use of police style to enforce laws and to provide service to the public. Until we treat police officers who break the laws the same as citizens who break the law, we are for these who are truly seeking solutions to urban crime. We must place eradicating systemic police corruption at the center of the debate. I say let the penalties and fees come out of the law enforcement departments checks, lets see how much longer corruption & misconduct remains an issue amongst out society.

  

11 comments:

  1. I like your post, Monique Brockington. You are right that corruption is the large problem in our society. This problem exist not only in the US, but I think it is spreaded around the world.
    Police corruption is a specific form of police misconduct designed to obtain financial benefits, other personal gain, and/or career advancement for a police officer or officers in exchange for not pursuing, or selectively pursuing, an investigation or arrest.
    You cite the data about cost of Philadelphia Police misconduct "...$20 million in the settlement of over 200 civil cases in the last 28 months." These data are appalling. If these money were spent to education, medicare or welfare programs of city, it could save a city budget.

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  2. I was present for the Los Angeles Riots

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992_Los_Angeles_riots

    I sat on the roof of my apartment building & i watched the city revolt against the rampant police brutality by lighting some 600 fires & pretty much destroying entire areas of the city. It was amazing to watch & while I did not take part I completely understood. The police had been harassing everyone & anyone. I remember thinking i was going to get beaten up by a cop on a horse one day for running across the street at an intersection through a yellow light. The cop actually raced up to me on his horse & proceeded to scream at me in front of the two girls I was with. His partner rode up & calmed him down & told me to get lost. That cop was like a street thug. Back then Los Angeles had strict jay waking codes that they would use as an excuse to arrest ANYONE. LA handed out roughly 155,000 jay walking tickets in 1991 the #2 city in the US for Jay walking tickets was New York City & they handed out less than 200. I completely understood the need for the riots. It's a shame so many innocent people were hurt but it completely changed the way the LA police conducted themselves & within the next 2-3 years the city was much safer from it's own police!

    Just this weekend there is a dance rebellion happening at the Thomas Jefferson memorial. Dancing at the memorial has been outlawed & the police really roughed up some kids who were there dancing WITHOUT music! They were there to prove a point & they were beaten up.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLw2ISUusz4&feature

    So if you're not doing anything this Saturday then join the protest! C'mon out & dance. Our government is out of control.

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  3. I agree that corruption is a serious problem, in my mind I think it is more than just the police. I believe that other higher ranking officials also play a part in the corruption in what seems to be obvious cover ups. How do the police get away with lam excuses for causing harm to innocent people. How often do we hear about police being involed in the beating or killing of innocent people with the excuse of probable cause. What happens to those cases, you hear an initial report then the case just seems to disappear. We rarely hear of a police officer losing their job or even more rare going to jail in connection with crimes against innocent people.

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  4. Archiebald RobinsonJune 4, 2011 at 12:00 AM

    I think that police are the law but most of the time think they are above the law and do lot harm and get away with it. They kill lot of innocent people just because they think the person was reaching for a gun and that is wrong.

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  5. Sandra FelicianoJune 4, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    That was a very informative post. The second video was so disturbing. To see such roughness being used is scary. And you are right when you said that it gives the cops that aren't like that a bad image. And what is also disturbing is that the neighbors and especially young kids who were watching that are going to have a bad image of police officers. It's scary to think that because someone wears a badge, they can violate you like that. It is definitely a problem that has existed for a while and especially in big cities like Philadelphia.

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  6. Great post! I agree that it was very informative. It is very unsettling to know how much money is being paid out for police misconduct. This money is coming out of our pockets(tax payers), the same people that are being brutalized. I also believe that police officers should be held accountable for their actions; not just a slap on the wrist,there should be a harsher punishment for those officers who break the law. They take an oath and when they knowingly break that oath or abuse their authority,there should be a much steeper penalty. So many of their indiscetions are swept under the rug that it makes people uneasy. People don't know who to trust anymore. I personally know a lot of people that simply don't like cops. It's sad when the same people they swore to serve and protect, look at them as the enemy or view them in a negative light. Of course we know that not all police officers are corrupt, but it can be difficult to distinguish friend from foe. I definitely have respect for the law and law enforcers, however, I have witnessed police officers misuse their power. This won't stop me from performing my civic duties, but it does make my take a closer look. I salute those who are truly upholding the law , but I am ashamed of those who are no different then the criminals they lock up everyday. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch...

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  7. When I first look at what has happened in the video, I think of race. I am a victim and also a witness to white cops and black "trouble makers." Cops take advantage of the power that they have. The boy in the video was not a threat at all. There was no reason for the cop to punch him. I understand Philadelphia has a high rate in crimes including selling drugs and murders but the way they go about things make the people of Philadelphia scared of the ones who are supposed to be protecting us.

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  8. Nice post! Police corruptions are happening everywhere, but here in Philly It has become a major problem. Watching the video was so upsetting to me, and living a bad neighborhood myself, Northeast Philly, I'm being awared of these situations already. Let's see if the Philadelphia Police history of NO SNITCHING still exists. It's so funny when the cops come to your neighborhood and expect you to snitch on the next man when they don't snitch on themselves. There has to be a cop out there that is awared where he's at, and stand up to culture of the Philadelphia police force.

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  9. Great post! I think police corruption and misconduct happens all over the world. People can't do too mich about it because in their impression, police represent the law. Actually, no one can be on top of the law. I might go to a movie because i really enjoy the first video that you post.

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  10. To me, corruption in law enforcement is unacceptable in society. Although, these unlawful actions of some of our officers of the law are as common as the ones committed by every day criminals, we shouldn't accept this as a natural phenomenon of our society. These actions by the ones we trust to enforce the laws, in which we live under, undermine and discredit the officers that come to work truly committed to doing their job down to the oath.

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  11. I like the idea of taking all the settlements from police corruption out of the department's paychecks. The second video you posted is a great example of how police overstep their authority everyday in the line of duty. That said, I think police corruption is a complex issue, that I think is often caused by low-quality recruits and poor internal practices. Maybe with the help of sociologists, police departments could narrow down characteristics that are apparent in people who would make honest cops, and to form better hiring procedures, and to identify practices that encourage honesty and integrity inside the department.

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