Police ethics are moral values that are widely accepted standards and practices in policing. These ethics include loyalty, allegiance, courage, and honesty. However, many police officers have deviated from ethical values and practice misconduct. Knapp commission was the major commission entitled to investigate police ethics through identification of their misconduct and corruption. The commission was tasked with examining the New York Police Department (NYPD) after several complaints regarding the corrupt officers (Gilbert & Gilbert, 2016).
Law enforcement officers represent the government, and they have to bear ethical standards when performing their duties. Police officers are required to maintain ethical conduct by refusing gratuities, favors, and gifts from public members. This is because these factors tend to influence their judgment when on duty.
The investigation by the Knapp commission found out that police officers were taking money from people in the name of protection. The government employed the police officers to maintain law and order in the society, but they ought to launder money from the public. Also, the police officers took bribes from lawbreakers promising the continuation of their criminal activities. Narcotics was the main section affected because the trade involved the easy flow of money (Gilbert & Gilbert, 2016). Many law enforcers involved with narcotics investigation took bribes to conceal information regarding their trade locations and possible hideouts. At one point, the commission identified a police officer who was taking bribes during a continuing investigation
The Knapp investigation showed that corruption in the police department of New York had been in existence since 1845. The finding portrays that the reason behind police extortion activities is for personal gain. Most officers are corrupt because they want to improve their financial position and social status in society. Knapp’s investigation shows that there are two types of police corruption. These include the “grass-eaters” and the “meat-eaters,” the “grass-eaters” involved law enforcers who accept gratuities from the members of the public (Gilbert & Gilbert, 2016).
The corruption act was committed by receiving free meals and coffee, which they paid back through specific considerations, such as favors. The “meat-eaters” were the most aggressive group of police. They focused on generating high payoffs with future considerations. They used loyalty to organize their police groups and attract the “grass-eaters” with high gains. This group was very much committed to their doings so that any police officer who refused to accept payoff was shunned.
Knapp research shows various forms of police corruption, such as theft, perjury, and falsification. Firstly, theft was the most common form of corruption among police officers. Their greedy nature motivated them to take bribes from crime suspects, extort the suspects and the citizens. Police used to threaten the suspects with prosecutions and arrests, making them give money (Gilbert & Gilbert, 2016). Other instances involve police patrol where the police officers would enter investigation premises and steal.
Law enforcers used to steal drugs from crime scenes, especially when the suspects were deceased. Secondly, perjury and falsification are among the significant ways utilized by police officers to cover their actions. They tend to falsify information such as verbal testimony and reports. There are other ways where police officers request a raid but end up seizing the offender’s evidence.
Police corruption has a significant negative impact on the family, co-workers, and law enforcement as a whole. Police corruption undermines the integrity of the law enforcement system, making the public lose trust in the policing system (Gilbert & Gilbert, 2016). This makes it challenging for the police officers to perform their duties effectively because the public has lost interest in the system. The ethical standards of the corrupt officer family are lowered because they are perceived as people who are willing to engage in unethical behaviors in society. They also influence their co-workers into engaging in similar activities.
Gilbert, S., & Gilbert, B. (2016). Police corruption in the NYPD. Taylor & Francis Group.