Police corruption is one of the controversial issues in the society. Major reforms and recommendations have been represented to help shape up the all-important police force of this stigma which is contributing to the increase of crime. An analysis done by the Federal Bureau of Investigations of America indicates that police leadership, work environment and subculture are the factors that can constitute a better and corrupt free police force or otherwise. Over the last decade much policy changes have been implemented in law enforcement to check and improve the ethical standards of the police force. The FBI led analysis included the much led perceptions behind police corruption and initiated possible tools to help ensure that a police officer acts on the margins of his ethics, power and right. Police officers have much contact with the public hence they are involved in the day to day law enforcement activities than any other forces, hence there is need to achieve public confidence at the eyes of the people, (Martin, 2011).
Kenneth in the book ‘policing in America’ indicated that there are many reasons that define the police law enforcement in such corrupt manner. He goes on to define police corruption has the misuse of police power and authority basically for self-interests. Defining when a police officer is acting personal gain has been a challenge has many police officers follow orders from their superiors, orders which may be injustice and selfish in nature. In the book Kenneth defines examples of the ill-gotten corrupt activities that are commonly practiced by the police. There are many actions and practices that are corrupt in nature. The book identifies two major corrupt practices played by police men. The first major corrupt practice is extortion. Extortion is demanding money from somebody because he did not do an intended action like demanding money from motorists for not writing a traffic ticket. Secondly is bribery. Bribery is the most common corrupt practice among the police, (Peak, 2009). It involves taking of bribes for a crime committed so as not to arrest or charge the person. The causes of these actions has been researched and completed by a number writer and researchers some have come with distinctive reasons on social and economic matters while others have come up explanations based on the available law and environment. Take a case of the rotten apple theory which clearly demonstrates that corruption in the police is the work of a few immoral and dishonest police officers. This theory has been viewed by various experts for lacking objectivity on the availability and concentration of corrupt activities in a particular organization or department. Indeed then there is a lot to know on the causes of corruption so as to be able to understand why the practice is such common.
Causes of Police Corruption
There a number of theories that have explained the causes of corruption in the police arm of law enforcement. Indeed there is no action which does not a prompting factor. In fact these causes are represented with the connection of the types of corruption practices. As bribery is the mother of corruption practices there a number of causes attached to it, hence it is believed that every corruption act has a cause attached to it. The following are some of the causes of corruption in the police, (IACP, 2010).
- Poor Leadership and management – The police force is bonded by leadership hence leadership is major integral part of a police force. When there is a lot of insubordination and lack of connection between the police officers there is a high possibility that police officers will do things behind the back of their superiors. Also there are a lot of activities and issues to be tackled in the police departments hence it is for police officers to do their own things without supervision. Poor management qualities in the police officer will lead to low supervision levels resulting to corruption.
- Peer group-a high number of corrupt activities are not done alone, they involve more than one individual police officer. In most cases police officers are allocated duties in groups hence they would probably execute corruptive activities. It is believed that these are prompted by peer group discussions and pressure that is undertaken when in duty.
- Association and contact with criminals- When police officers are in duty they keep contact with various criminals. It is the duty of police officers to ensure that there is law and order and in the process they get into contact to criminal activities which interest them. At the end of the day such association and knowledge will likely prompt them to practice corruption.
- Working environment- The environment in which a police officer works in will probably affect the way he will behave. Culture and politics are some of the environmental factors that affect the conduct of police officers. Politics tops the list with a number of corruption cases in America said to be politically motivated. Societal norms and standards also affect the conduct of police officers. It is logical that an environment with weak norms and standards promote police corruptive activities, ( Kutnjak, 2005)
- Legal opportunities and organizational structure-The organizational structure and characteristics of a police department is very significant with the ethical practices of police officers. A high level of bureaucracy and weak integrity in the management in a department will promote or give an easy way for corruptive practices in the department. At the same time there may exist legal issues which may create an opening for police corruption.
- Lack of corruption controls and moral cynicism. Lack of corruption controls can promote corruptive activities at whatever level. The constant contact of police officers with criminals has also promoted moral cynicism hence they are tempted to break the law and lose ethics.
- Status-Police officers are always under paid and under motivated, hence with these situations it would easy for them to engage in such activities.
Causes of corruption in the police can be more than the one listed above. Sometimes it ranges to personal character and behavior.
Prosecution and investigation of corrupt officers
Corruption cases in the police forces can be prosecuted. Initially under the law corruption is a criminal offence. Indeed corruption cases in the police force are put in the spotlight and may carry higher sentences if the one is found to be guilty. The past decade as seen a number of police corruption prosecutions. At the same time there has been a debate concerning prosecutions of corruption cases as prosecutors are viewing such cases has “biting of the hands that feeds them”. Prosecutors feel really very uncomfortable prosecuting the same people who have been feeding them with information on various cases, as cases are prepared by the police force and then taken to the prosecutor. The debate although came to conclusive recommendations which is being implemented, (Crank, 2011).
Investigations into such conduct in the police force is not of course done by the fellow officers but by an independent corruption auditor who reviews particular activities and decision of the officers involved in the corruption and the management. It is a common practice for independent audits to be undertaken in the police force to ensure professionalism, proper procedure following and any incident of police corruption, (IACP, 2010).
There has been an improvement in the police force in reducing this malady. Possible policing solutions on the matter have been tabled discussed and implemented. The following are some of the possible solutions that can turn around the situation to better. The first solution that can be effective is corruption prevention measures. There is need to ensure that the police department hires individuals with a clear ethical background and capacity. During the hiring process and even the existing officers should undertake an integrity screening program so as to ensure that the police have the right candidates. Ethical training and education in policing should be integrated in the police force so as to teach and involve police officers. Extra training on role and honesty lessons should be included with close attention be given on social and psychological developments of each officer.
Also there is need for a better organizational and leadership structure in the police force. To ensure low bureaucracy and political intervention there is need to ensure the independence and simplicity of the police force. Integrity should the top pride and value of an officer. Motivation and revised salary packages should also be included to ensure overall performance of the force. Police officer should be taught and ought to understand and adapt to various work environments and ensure that whatever the circumstance they stand for their own values and pride, (Sherman, 1978).
Corruption is disease which spreads fast hence it cannot be eliminated easily. The police force which is given the duty to ensure the safety and order in the nation are also custodians of liberty and ethics. Hence before we regulate corruption in other sections there is need to contain it in the police force who can take such an opportunity.
There is need to enhance and expand police service and officers to ensure that officers are not distracted from their duties to corruption. Solutions are available hence policing should be better handled and promoted to root the culture of corruption.