Essays On Police Misconduct

Police Misconduct And Corruption Essay

INTRODUCTION For as long as policing has existed in America, there has been misconduct and corruption associated with any given policing agency. Police officer malfeasance can range from minor cases of misconduct to the downright criminal acts that are considered to be corruption. It is important to state here that not all police officers are guilty of misconduct and/or corruption, but like everything in our media-based society, the ?bad? cops are of much more interest and therefore are what this paper will focus on.

Merriam-Webster online (2005) defines misconduct as ?1: mismanagement especially of governmental or military responsibilities; 2: intentional wrongdoing; specifically: deliberate violation of a law or standard especially by a government official: Malfeasance; or 3: improper behavior.? Corruption, as defined by Merriam-Webster online (2005), is ?1 a: impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle: Depravity; b: Decay, Decomposition; c: inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (as bribery) d: a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct; or 2: an agency or influence that corrupts.? Police corruption encompasses police misconduct. While police misconduct is usually easily identified, police corruption is a gray area because people disagree on what is classified as corruption. This paper will discuss the different types of police misconduct and police corruption. It will also theorize about why police misconduct and corruption occur and the different ways to stop them.

TYPES OF MISCONDUCT AND CORRUPTION There are two types of corruption that most police malfeasances fall under: grass-eating and meat-eating. Defined by the Knapp Commission in the early 1970s, grass-eating is misconduct that occasionally occurs in normal every day scope of police work. (Schmalleger, 2005). Meat-eating is when police officers actively seek out illicit ways to make money, usually through bribes, threats, or intimidation (Schmalleger, 2005).

Grass-eating is usually viewed as the least serious type of corruption. Some forms of grass-eating are relatively harmless, such as mooching (police officers accepting free items from donors) and favoritism (issuing license tabs, window stickers, or courtesy cards that exempt users from arrest or citation from traffic offenses). Aside from these examples of grass-eating, there are still some types that are undeniably corrupt. These types of grass-eating include bribery (receiving cash or a ?gift? in exchange for past or future help in avoiding prosecution), extortion (holding a ?street court? in which minor traffic tickets can be avoided by the payment of cash ?bail? to the arresting officer, with no receipt given), and shopping (picking up small items such as candy bars, gum, and cigarettes at a store where the door has been unlocked at the close of business hours). This type of...

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Farrar 3training is to maximize performance. Brian Kinnaird, director of research andtraining at the Forceology Research Group in Kansas insists,


thout training,officers are completely independent [but] with training, they are armed with better

judgment and discretionary capabilities” (206).

Police and criminologists note

distinct differences between the terms “use of force,” “unnecessary force,”


“brutality.” According to experts, the use of force is c

rucial and essential in order foran officer to do his job effectively. Unnecessary force however, is often the result of poor training such as when an officer barges into a situation where excessive forceis required in order to remove him or her self from the danger. In this case, cautionand better training could have prevented the situation from occurring. On the other

hand, brutality is “a conscious and venal act by officers who usually take

great pains

to conceal their misconduct”(Lawrence 19). According to this definition, brutality is

not necessarily correlated with poor training however excessive force often is. It isimportant to make the distinction between these often-confused terms.Often times the public can be quick to judge police officers and to label anecessary physical situation as brutality. Many people, in particular officersthemselves, feel that the public does not understand the day to day pressures of being a police officer and the many difficult gray situations where it is questionableas to how much force should be exerted. Although the specific actions that constitute excessive force or brutality may be easy to determine in articles andpolice manuals, for officers in the moment it is often not easy to decide how muchforce is actually necessary (Lawrence 19). Often times the stress of going years

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