Police corruption is a major and complex issue that faces police departments around the world today. Of the various internal problems that the police officers face, nothing is so detrimental and compromising than the acts of corruption that are taking place in the police department. The police in any society and democratic society, in particular, are expected to be compliant with the laws they are supposed to uphold. Police corruption refers to the taking of bribes, illegally transferring confiscated goods, and laundering money among other illegal activities by any member of the police force for personal gain (Siegel 193). It involves the abuse of one’s authority. One of the notable acts of corruption is the Rodney King incident that took place in Los Angeles, California. King was pulled over under the mere suspicion that he was driving under the influence of alcohol. Multiple Los Angeles Police Officers were caught on tape giving Rodney King a prolonged beating with batons and taser gun while he lay on the ground. They then handcuffed him. The incident has shocked and left a long-lasting impression on the community of Los Angeles and the United States as a whole. This research paper seeks to find out the main causes of corruption in the United State’s police force. The three main causes of corruption are political influence, economic influence, and poor supervision.
A number of causes give rise to corruption in the police force. The first cause is economic influence. It is much expected for public officials like the police who are inadequately paid to engage in bribery and general corruption tendencies. Lack of integrity for people across all the positions has been established to emanate from the fact that they are paid very low salaries especially where consumption is highly valued and defines the social status (Siegel 201). Corruption tendencies thrive in situations where there is a perceived difference between income and the responsibilities of the police. For instance, if the police are expected to man an area or city where deals involving millions of dollars have to be controlled, then the payment ought to be proportional to the task. Larry and Miller (2008:154) concluded that police officers working in the drug-related region are at more risk of falling into the invitational edge of corruption due to the huge amount of money that may be available to the officers. This is not the case in most instances. In the same way, if there are notable disparities in the payment within the police, then these will automatically contribute to the practice of corruption.
The second cause is poor supervision in the police force. Failure to keep the operations of the police in constant check has directly contributed to thriving corruption among the forces. The polices’ discretion to work unsupervised presents an opportunity to make decisions informed by the considerations of material or other forms of personal benefit instead of professional judgment (Larry and Miller 152). Left unsupervised, some police work brings with it the greater opportunity of corruption, and many police officers have ended up compromising their duties and responsibilities.
The third most significant cause of corruption among the police is political influence. The extent to which police officers may be corrupt depends on the context under which they carry out their operations. These vary from one city to another and from one state to another. Research has revealed that the political environment and culture in North America and Australia have a significant direct or indirect influence on the levels of corruption (Siegel 205). Collaboration between the political classes with the police offers the best explanation of why the various departments become notoriously corrupt. Police in most states has been directly linked with all sorts of election fraud. Furthermore, an organized crime that has a connection with the government, the political class, has strong police reinforcement in the protection of the criminals (Bailey & Godson 177).
The above findings have revealed that there are deep-rooted causes of police corruption. We have established that there are three main causes of police corruption and including; economic influence, poor supervision, and political influence. If this trend is left unchecked, the common members of the public may end up not getting proper legal justice from those who have been mandated to protect them, the police force.
Bailey, John J. & Godson, Roy. Organized crime & democratic governability. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000: 177-199.
Larry, Gaines K. & Miller, Leroy R. Criminal Justice in Action: The Core (5th ed.). Cengage Learning, 2008: 151-154.
Siegel, Larry J. Introduction to Criminal Justice (12th ed.). Cengage Learning, 2009: 193- 205.