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.