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Watch movie trailer from the movie, “Serpico” at http://www.traileraddict.com/trailer/serpico/trailer The real Serpico on the movie, “Serpico” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3dGWoScAnw Class discussion – Is Serpico now viewed as a hero or a “rat? “ By whom? Why?
News article from the NY Times regarding case - http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/us/07fbi.html Did the police department/s sustain significant damage as a result of this case? Class discussion – what occurred in terms of public trust?
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Class discussion - Is it ever acceptable to take gratuities? What about coffee at a gas station that is free to anyone who purchases fuel? Would it be wrong for a law enforcement officer to take the coffee if he or she purchased fuel?
Class discussion – Read article - http://livermore.patch.com/articles/officer-arrested-for-dui Should this officer be given “professional courtesy?” What could perhaps be the ramifications for doing so? Should officers be given “professional courtesy” for minor offenses (such as speed, etc.)? Do physicians, attorneys, or other professionals give professional courtesy to their colleagues?
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Pollock ethics 8e_ch07
Police Corruption and
Lecture slides prepared by Lisa J. Taylor
Abuse of Power by Police
The majority of police officers are professional and
ethical. However, a small minority abuse their power.
This leads to close scrutiny by the public of all police.
Police officers have tremendous power in our society:
• The power to arrest
• The power to mediate or to charge
• The power to use force
• The power of life and death
ProblemBaksheesh – another word for graft
• Became police officer in 1959.
• After 12 years became a detective.
• Discovered corruption was
rampant in the NYPD.
• He & a fellow officer went to the
media & participated in an exposé
of the corruption.
• Experienced retaliation & and was
shot in the face before he could
• Left department for 10 years &
later came back to speak out
against police corruption.
Types of Corruption
1973 Knapp Commission:
Grass eaters—accepting bribes, gratuities, and unsolicited
Meat eaters—shakedowns, “shopped” at burglary scenes,
and engaged in more active deviant practices
1993 Mollen Commission:
Criminal cops—burglary rings, selling drugs, robbing drug
• Largest investigation into police
corruption in the FBI’s history
• October 2010
• FBI sent approximately 1K
agents to Puerto Rico
• 130 people and 80 officers
arrested on drug trafficking
• Officers accused of selling
protection to drug dealers
• In 2010, it was alleged that the FCSO
used "tasers” against detainees in its
• It was alleged that the FCSO engaged in
an unconstitutional pattern & practice of
using tasers in an abusive manner, failing
to adequately investigate their use, &
failing to adequately train corrections
deputies in the use of tasers.
• In February 2011, claims were settled by
entering a court-enforceable settlement
• The Settlement Agreement requires the
FCSO to reform policies, procedures, &
training on use of tasers and its
investigations in their use.
• The DOJ monitors compliance with the
Corruption (Fyfe and Kane)
• Police crime —police officers violate criminal statutes.
• Police corruption —officer uses his or her position,
by act or omission, to obtain improper financial benefit,
bribes, extra-job policy abuse, gratuities (may be
criminal or not).
• Abuse of power —officers physically injure or offend
a citizen’s sense of dignity (“brutality” or unnecessary
force, deception in interrogation, intimidation on the
street, perjury, planting evidence, and hiding
exculpatory evidence, off-duty misconduct).
• Zetas drug cartel stabbed and
bludgeoned 44 members of the rival
Gulf cartel to death and then staged
a mass escape.
• Prisoners were given guns and cars
and ordered to go and kill rival drug
• They killed 17 people and are
suspected of 3 more mass killings.
• Top prison officials were implicated.
• Illustration of how much control drug
cartels have over criminal justice in
Items of value given because of role or
position, rather than personal relationship.
•A gift is personal and has no strings attached.
•Common police gratuities include:
oFree movie/sports tickets
oDiscounted or free meals
oDiscounted or free merchandise
• The practice of not ticketing an
officer who is stopped for speeding
or for other driving violations.
Police work factors that foster drug use:
• Exposure to a criminal element
• Relative freedom from supervision
• Uncontrolled availability of contraband
Drinking on duty:
• Creates less vulnerability to corruption than drug use
• Creates an ethical dilemma for other officers
• May lead other officers to isolate themselves from or avoid
working with those who drink
Using Drugs/Alcohol on Duty
Exploitation of one’s role by accepting bribes
or protection money.
• Also applies to kickbacks from defense attorneys,
bail bond companies, etc.
• Bribes rated in one study as second most serious
ethical transgression (after theft from burglary
Sexual Misconduct (Kraska &
• Viewing a victim's
photos, etc., for prurient
• Strip searches
• Illegal detentions
• Deception to gain sex
• Trading favors for sex
• Sexual harassment
• Sexual contact
• Sexual assault
• “Buddy boys” (NYC)
• Mafia Cops (Eppolito & Caracappa)
• Boston (Pulido)
• Cleveland cocaine cops
• Chicago (robbery, extortion, theft)
• Miami River Rats
• Drug crimes (in all cities: protection, theft,
• Occurred during aftermath of Hurricane
• Officers shot at unarmed brothers—killing
• Same officers were also involved in
shooting at an unarmed family—killing a
• The officers invented a fictitious witness
and planted a gun supposedly used by the
• A supervisor helped the officers set up
• 11 officers were implicated, 5 pled guilty to
lesser charges of covering up the incident,
and 6 officers were indicted on charges
from murder to obstruction.
• “Rotten-apple” argument (Officer was deviant before hiring)
• Development of a police personality (Officer became
deviant after hiring)
• Possible predictors: gender, age, education, race, military
experience, academy performance, prior history of
Target: screening/recruiting process; training
• Poor management and supervision
• “Noble Cause” (improper rewards)
• Corruption continuum (Trautman)
o Administrative indifference toward integrity
o Ignoring ethical problems
o Hypocrisy and fear
o “Survival of the fittest”
• Continuum of compromise (Gilmartin & Harris)
o Sense of victimization
o Cynicism and entitlement
• If the public does not comply with the law, officers
may rationalize non-enforcement of the law.
• If the public engages in illegal activities, officers
may feel justified in doing the same.
• If the public believes crime control is more
important than due process, police will act on that
• Set realistic goals and objectives
• Provide ethical leadership
• Provide a written code of ethics
• Provide a whistle-blowing procedure that
ensures fair treatment for all parties
• Provide training in law enforcement ethics
Education and Training
• Higher formal education standards are not,
themselves, the key to ethical behavior.
• Academy and in-service ethics training are common
and recommended for all departments.
• Many courses use a moral reasoning approach.
• Some advocate an emphasis on character.
• Others recommend case studies.
• Very controversial
• Not well-received by most officers
• Comparing integrity testing to undercover
operations reveals that:
o Most officers oppose integrity testing
o Most officers support undercover operations
Early Warning or Audit Systems
• Seek to identify problem officers by trends of
abuse or corruption complaints
• Identified officers may be subject to:
o Reassignment, retraining, or transfer
o Referral to an employee assistance program
o A fitness-for-duty evaluation
• Police investigate themselves
• Police use an internal discipline system
• Widely seen as ineffective
• May discourage civilian complaints
• Does not evoke public confidence
• An independent civilian agency audits complaints
• Police still investigate and conduct discipline
• Using departments receive more civilian
• Internal and external substantiation rates about
the same—approximately ten percent
Mistrust of police administration is pervasive
among the rank-and file.
Two cultures of policing: street cops and
Most agree that supervisor behavior has greater
influence on employee behavior than directives
Leaders lead most effectively by example.