Police Corruption




Tableof Contents

Abstract 3

Introduction 3

Forms of 4

The Beginning of 6

Causes/Motivators of in the United States 7

Measures to Control 8

Effect Of In The Public, Legal System And Criminal System 11

Conclusion 13

References 15


Throughoutthe history, the police have remained one of the important forceswith regard to maintenance of law and order as well as an integralpart of every country’s judicial system. Despite the growingimportance of the police force globally, one menace that has hamperedtheir impact in terms of performance is the cases of corruption thathas been related to the police force. Throughout history, policecorruption has been one major section of a dilemma faced with regardto the law enforcement process. This paper focuses on the evergrowing menace within the police force, an issue that is stainingtheir hard work. Different factors have been attributed to theincreased menace of corruption in the police force. Today, thepractices of police corruption have increased tremendously with anincrease in illegal smuggling, prostitution, money laundering amongother related vices. This paper will focus on police corruption,history or the beginning of the corruption practices within theforce, factors that contribute ‘to the spread and practice ofcorruption practices (what motivates the police to engage incorruption), remedies to the practice as well effective measures toeliminate this problem within the police force.


Policecorruption has become a globally recognized problem that has been inpractice for many years. Not only has it been a problem in theUnited States, but also practices of corruption have been recorded inother regions such Far East, Asia, Europe, and Africa. Policecorruption, however, is a complex phenomenon which cannot besimplified to just a simple analysis, but rather it is a problem thathas and will continue affecting us all whether it is the civilians orthe law enforcement forces. According to Agbiboa, (2015), policecorruption is defined as a form of police delinquency whereby thepolice or law enforcement officers acts against their social contractand in turn abusing their power for either their personal gain orelse departmental gain. There are three extents as to which theoccurrence of police corruption can be attributed. These includemisuse of authority, misuse of personal attainment and misuse ofofficial capacity of the policemen and women. Different studies havebeen conducted with regard to the issue of corruption with the policeunits. Most of them have been on the support that, corruption isuniversal if not endemic within the police departments (Tankebe,2011).

Policecorruption is known to hurt both the community and law enforcement.For example, in an investigation that was conducted in Los Angeles,United States revealed a case of concern within the police unit.Within the police unit in the state, there was an anti-gang unitreferred as ‘Community Resource Against Street Hoodlums’ orCRASH. The unit was part of the Los Angeles police force until 1999when investigations were carried on the unit operations and found outthat, the group was involved in drug sales, theft of money from thedrug dealers, fabricates arrests, assaults, and false police reportsamong other implications. After the investigations of the ‘CRUSH’operations, dozens of criminal convictions connected to the groupwere overturned while at the same the involved officers wereconvicted of various crimes. In addition, the city incurred more than$40 million dollars towards the settlement of civil lawsuits. Insummary, the case represents one of the cases regarded as the worstpolice corruption scandal to have occurred in the history of US(Quah, 2014).

Forms of

Corruptionwithin the police forces can take different forms, depending on theintended gain or the personal gain from the action. Some of the formsinclude favoritism, bribery and related practices, kickbacks,diversion of resources, deceptive practices to mention but a fewforms of police corruption. Looking in the forms of corruption indetail, favoritism entails actions whereby an officer ‘looks theother way’ whenever there is a family member or a friend who isfound in trouble. Another form of favoritism is when an officer failsto make a follow-up ‘looks the other way’ towards a fellowofficer or an influential person in the community. Finally,favoritism may entail when the use of police access to offer familymember, friend or a higher regarded person to offer illegitimatehelp/assistance such as intervention in a criminal justice process.Favoritism may result in personal, group or organizational gain withpolice legal power being the most abused power (Tankebe, 2011).

Secondly,there are the bribery and related practices. This form of corruptionentails actions such as taking and/or soliciting for a bribe such asfailing to give a speeding ticket for any kind of payment. It mayalso be in the form of bribery for obstructing of a criminal justiceprocess such as failing to turn up for a trial. There is also thepractice of extortion of payment from the people who may be inconflict with the law or even cases of paid protection are all formsofbribery. In addition to the bribery, another related form ofcorruption is asking and taking of kickbacks. This may entail actionssuch as police officer accepting payment for favoritism such as anoffered legitimate task i.e. towing work. Another form of kickbacksis among the police officers in return for an awarded work-relatedchange. Payment for delivery of favorable treatment or even issuingan illegal gambling license is another form of kickbacks. Diversionof police resources, on the other hand, takes the form or practicessuch as selling resources meant for police unit, selling policeservices to criminals, using police powers and resources to help apersonal business or criminal operations for a desirable gain(Neumann, 2013). Finally, there is the practice of falsifyingevidence and making false statements which make up deceptivepractices for either personal or group gain. Other forms includetheft and premeditated criminal activity among others.

Table 1. Forms And Dimensions Of



Corruption of authority

This is whereby an officer has received material gain just as a result of the position the hold i.e. free meals, drink services etc.


Payment, services or goods received on or after referring a business chance to an individual or company

Opportunistic theft

Taking advantage of arrested or victims and stealing from them, i.e. accident victims, arrested people, dead people. It’s well known as ‘rolling’

Protection of illegal activities

Protecting perpetrators of illegal actions business such as prostitution, drug dealing and allowing the business to proceed

Internal layoffs

Trade in for prerogatives that are offered to police officers


Accepting a tip, or bribe to cease from making a follow up in any violation of the law

‘The fix’

Undermining of criminal investigations

Direct criminal activities

Engaging in criminal activity for personal gain in a situation that shows a clear violation of criminal and departmental norms


‘Doctoring’ adding details to an evidence to have a favorable result (one that is giving gains in term of money, services or goods)

TheBeginning of

Policecorruption has become of the police agencies which in turn has becomean almost impossible to differentiate police for corruption actions.To look into the issue of corruption and how it grew strong rootsinto the police units, different aspects have been attributed to howthis menace become to be part of the police force. In the early 18thcentury, police developments started the employment of privatefinance police who would profit from both legal aspects. Thisadoption of privately sponsored police units which were still part ofthe larger police force led to a lack of supervision or even controlin terms of their authority. The new status of privately owned policeunits led to differences between the police forces, as the privatemanaged to catch and collaborate with criminals. The early officersthat were given the authority to work privately and in collaborationwith criminals benefited from the unlimited authority, and in turnmisused it to steal, extort, intimidate and blackmailing of thepublic. Since the early ages, the corruption menace has deluded thecommunity/public belief and trust with the police force. The menacehas spread all over the globe.

Causes/Motivators of PoliceCorruption in the United States

Differentfactors have been attributed to the unethical practice of policecorruption. Is it the opportunity, greed or motivation? Scandals likeCRASH as mentioned earlier damages the image of the police in theeyes of the public and also undermines the community’s trust in thecountry’s law enforcement. Due to inability to abate such criminalactivities, crime flourishes in communities as the criminals areprotected. This, in turn, may lead to organized criminalestablishments as a result of the financial gain that is enjoyed bythe parties involved. One of the major causing factors behind policecorruption is the monetary gain that comes to the illegal or thecorrupt undertakings. In most cases, corruption deals have a monetaryvalue attached to them (Jonck &amp Swanepoel, 2016). More so, themoney is regarded as an extra income to supplement their income. Withthe availability of free and illegal money, the end of corruptionwithin the police forces has been hard to come.

Thereare both Constant and Variable factors that relate to the corruptdealings within the police forces in America and globally at large.One is a constant factor is Discretion. This means that there hasbeen a lot of power that has been given to police officers towardsmaking decisions. It is within the powers of police to make decisionsas to whether they ought to enforce particular laws to particularsituations. With the powers to make a decision, in turn, leads todecisions to be influenced by the material or any other form of thegain coming forth from the scene or case at hand (Crowder &ampTurvey, 2013). On the other hand, work description contributes todifferent extents of corruption possibility. Some police positions orwork description exposes corruption more than others. In addition todiscretion, there is also the issue of low managerial and publicvisibility, peer group and managerial secrecy, not to mention statusproblems within the police forces. On the other hand, there arevariable factors, such as community structure, characteristics of theorganizations, legal characteristics, corruption controls in place,and social organization of the corruption as well as legalopportunities that are in place for fighting corruption. Ineffectivemanagement of the police unit, the personnel, and resources hascontributed to low employee (police) motivational levels. One majorcontribution of poor payment, grudges within the ranks, andfavoritism is low motivation among the officers. This in turn fuelsthe establishment of alternatives to cater for financial and materialneeds. When a marginalized police officer gets an alternative sourceof freedom, happiness and income, he/she would be more gland toaccept it, hence increase of corrupt dealings.

Causal Factors That Affects The Development Of Corrupt Actions/Practices Within Police Force (Othman, 2014)

Variable Factors

Social definition/organization of corruption

This aspect entails two major issues which are events and arrangements.

Corruption controls in place

This is how the guardians of corruption are implemented and guarded themselves.

Community structure

This is the extent as to which the community is developed to fight the menace of corruption, i.e. political ethos and culture conflict.

Organizational characteristics

The organization of the police forces, bureaucracy, career stages and the overall flow of the organization orders impacts the extent in which the practice of corruption thrives.

Legal chances of corruption

When the legal reference to corruption is weak, there is the tendency for the practice to thrive within the police force.

Constant Factors

Low managerial visibility

The management ability of the police force has greatly contributed to either success or fueling of corruption within the police force.

Managerial secrecy and Peer Group culture and secrecy within police force

This contributes to an endless police culture which is characterized by high levels of internal secrecy and solidarity among police men and women, which has been known to fuel corruption with police forces. This goes hand in hand with secrecy among the police managers.

Low public visibility

With low levels of public witnessing what the police are into, actions and undertakings, there tends to be an element of un-surveillance of the public

Association with law breakers

The police life is all about involvement with varying people who are in one way or another an interest to the police force

Measures to Control PoliceCorruption

Thereare strategies put forward to curb corruption in the policedepartment in the US: Certain ways include reforming the humanresource through recruitment, training, professional pride and policemanagerial control. Under recruitment, it was suggested that highstandard background screening for the candidates to be a crucialconsideration. Candidates with the age of 21 were considered low forthem to adapt to the adult work, thus a rise in 23 years for thecandidate’s suit. Those who already earned a higher education awardwere to be a considerable aspect and those continuing with highereducation to receive awards on completion. “Efforts to reducepolice corruption should be based on analyses of differences in thewho, what, and when of local corruption” (Crowder &amp Turvey,2013).

Reformingthe training and recruitment departments was a major solution to curbcorruption in the police force. It has been suggested that mosttraining officers avoid as much as possible corruption topic indefense that the discussion might encourage the same, the opposite istrue. If training was too highly impact on corruption control,trainers have to explore in great depths all aspects related tocorruption and all areas prone to corruption. Ethics and integrityvirtues have to be taught to the candidates through the wholeprocess, through recruitment, training, through education all the wayto management. Most importantly: A well-established code of ethicscontributes positively into laying guidance to how law enforcementshould be carried out a code of ethics contributes to the imageportrayed by the law enforcers to shaping the profession a code ofethics is a pure contributor to developing mutual respect between thepolice and the public, and finally, a code of ethics helps theofficers develop self-respect (Hickman et al, 2016).

Finally,it is important to fund the police officers sufficiently in order tokeep them engaged in different activities. Alternatively, being proudof his profession is evident that a police officer will appearresistant to corruption. Most training must focus on reducingtemptation and increasing fear of being detected and more on theconsequences. Managerial responsibility is a major end to controlcorruption. In happenings that managers are accountable to theirtrainees, corruption levels might be low in the view that managerswould be faced with the fear of handling corrupt deals that do notdirect relate to him (Crowder &amp Turvey, 2013). Being responsiblefor someone else is logically hard and it calls for a big deal ofcarefulness and alertness.

Everyarea of work has to have some policies to govern their employees’ethical practice. Developing some policies to be adhered with bypolice officers might help lower corruption levels. A countercorruption policy helps the police to maintain certain decency in theeyes of the public as well as their superiors. A profound code ofethics also acts as a reminder for them to understand what is to beexpected and what is not of them thus they keep their activitieslegalized. The percentage of the contraband incentive that policechiefs promise to those who arrest drug dealers and planting drugevidence on those believed or suspected to know whereabouts of drugsand dealers for the non-budgeted areas give way to officers who arecorrupt to bulge their pockets with money (Hickman et al, 2016). Bywithdrawing these incentives, the corrupt officers will see thatthere would be no gain for them in anyways. Such incentives could beuseful in social benefits for activities like football for the idleyouths, hospitals, non-governmental organizations or drugrehabilitation centers.

Tightsupervision at workplace generally instills fear of any misconductdetected by the supervisor. The same way police officers under tightsupervision would act fearful of being caught and sacked or face manyharsh consequences. This way, the corrupt officers would actaccordingly and with time the greed or the thirst for additionalbenefits would fade away if they realize that there is no much ornothing to lose. Publicizing corrupt areas and using force on thoseengage in corrupt deals might help curb the offense. Public opinionis highly regarded, so, corrupt officers will fear the public harshjudgment if their corrupt activities are made public. Also citizens’involvement to avoid corruption will much boost counter-corruptionefforts. If a law abiding citizen happens to report a corruptactivity, those who engage in such activities will fear theconsequences of their unseen action if in any case they happen to beseen. Finally, the development and implementation of independent andnon-political oversight would serve an ideal tool towards thealleviation of police corruption (Jackson et al, 2014). The approachserves as one of the measures that are focused on reducing corruptionwhile not being under the influence of police. This would, however,include the police heads to understand the reasons behind corruptionwithin the forces.

EffectOf In The Public, Legal System And Criminal System

Corruptpolice officers often have the tendency to abuse the power given tothem to perform their duties to commit a crime, one of which theyhave their direct victims. This is clear from where they have accessto crime scenes, unlocked businesses or even car parking areas andthey take advantage to get away with goods like cars, electronics oreven cash when they are supposed to be investigating. In a recentreport, in Nigeria, the4 public do not believe that they can seekassistance from police since it is clear that they end up losing muchmore than they lose to the thugs. They can also get involved withgangsters to rob people of their properties like cars and such casesresulting in murder (Jonck &amp Swanepoel, 2016). They have tounderstand that they don’t only use their power to their advantage,but also they are liable for a crime that`s worth prosecution.

Theyalso target innocent people to extort money or favors from them thereare occasions that they tamper with the evidence or reports inquestionable areas or even plant evidence to have someone freed ifthey happen to gain from it. This is to either strengthen or making acase lighter to the favor of a common interest. Victimization alsooccurs when police agree with big business owners to act in theirfavor whenever trouble occurs in return for gifts of money or goods.In areas like pubs and casinos, some police might act as bouncers orgate officers to control the customers who appear to be violent.These customers are directly victimized since the officer will onlybe fair to the owner rather than delivering a fair settlement (Riccioet al, 2013).

Beinga direct police victim is just but unlucky for the defense offered bythe lawyers without any evidence will be impossible to lighten anycase. Police credibility is highly regarded despite his being lied ortelling the facts. Criminal justice is at stake since seeking justicein such situations is not only hard but also hardly possible. This ison much of a contributor to violations to criminal justice.Obstruction of justice by fostering impunity leads to what issecondary victimization (Shim et al, 2015). Assisting crimeperpetrators to receive lighter or no punishment altogether is aclear obstruction of criminal justice. It is possible for policeofficers to interfere with other jurisdictions as to help a crimeperpetrator from facing the law. Fostering impunity in these kinds,damages other police officers’ morale, in that they feel that theirefforts have been underestimated (Stinson et al, 2013). Some willhate their work and feel worthless given the evidence or strongargument they might have ready to prosecuting the criminal(s).

Somepolice officers mishandle 0or mismanage the resources at theirdisposal by favoring areas or businesses they get fair treatment. Itmostly happens when owners of businesses like pubs offer serviceslike free meals and drinks and in return have much protection fortheir customers. Generally, it affects other businesses in acommunity where they do not receive police services therefore theyare treated unfairly and they receive more threats from the freecrime perpetrators. It is evident that those who receive policeattention are those who are able to buy their services. Police alsouse their resources provided to offer protection to the most wantedcriminals like drug dealers (Lee et al, 2015). They offer escorts tothem by using their vehicles and uniforms and also selling policeregistered rifles, thus facilitating more harm to the society andtormenting the peace of the citizens of a particular community whomight have a strong urge to have some criminal(s) behind bars.

Publicpolice relation is a major aspect of the work of the officer toenforcing the law and order. If the public does not trust the policeservice, their work in that area would be worthless. It is clear thatunless a citizen files a complaint, a police cannot have any case toinvestigate. Bribing citizens for them to acquire what they want is acorrupt act that should be prosecuted. In cases like acquiring afirearm license, a pass through a weighbridge and other petty issuesreduces trust and triggers the honesty, integrity and fair judgmentoften carried by the citizens (Tankebe, 2011). Police trust isdecreasing also on the roads when they put the roadblock not to checkif the vehicle has all the credentials but to get the petty share fortheir greed. It is not often that people call the police forassistance more so during a robbery at night. In the Bowling forColumbine, Michadel Moore encounters a woman who confirms that policetend to very slow and before they arrive at the scene, the situationmight have worsened that’s why they prefer to own firearms toprotect themselves. A recent report also in Nigeria says thatcitizens do not trust the police anymore because they only seemefficient if they have a guarantee of a favor or payment (Agbiboa,2015).

Asthe English saying, where there is smoke, there is fire. This sayingapplies to any culture of a community. If the police show that theycan be `bought` therefore, an offender will always have his way aslong as he can afford to pay for any police service. New recruitswill always adapt this habit and the chain will always circulate.Mainly, the common citizen is the most affected as criminals continueto torment them and innocent defendants are unjustly prosecuted(Sundström, 2015).


Policecorruption is in turn not new, as it has been part of policing aslong as we have had the police. More so, the practice is pervasive asit is next to impossible to get a police organization that isentirely free from corruption. From the research it can be saidthat corruption within police units is not bounded by rank inaddition to being a pervasive problem. However, it is clear thatevery definition adopted for what corruption is, and should entailboth process and financial corruption. More so, corruption shouldacknowledge the different means/forms/types of corruption as well asmotives of activities. On the other hand, it is hard to identify anddefine the boundary between non-corrupt and corrupt activities. Thebad apple theory can however not be sorely be depended upon toexplain the source of police corruption.

Itis clear that, different causing factors have been attributed tothis, such as the explanation of ‘BadApple Theory’,as well as actors that are intrinsic to the police employees, thenature of organizations where police work, police culture, existenceof opportunities for corruption to exist as presented by politicalfactor and the task environment. Finally, the nature as well as theextent of the effort that is implemented towards controlling ofpolice corruption (Väsquez, 2013). Despite the menace of corruptionbeing an almost something that coexists with policing, some areastend to be more prone to corruption compared to others. Differentmeasures have been adopted to control the extent of policecorruption, even though there are different barriers towardssuccessful control of corruption within the police units. However,there is evidence that police agencies can be reformed. Reforms topolice units that are intended to fight corruption ought to go beyondthe immediate problem related to corruption, address both politicaland organization itself, should be durable. Finally, keepingvigilance and being skepticism is key to successful reform to thepolice agencies. However, it is evident that police officers havebeen driven by the corrupt actions due to low payment, poor workingconditions, safety concerns of their jobs and families. All thesefactors contribute to motivational aspect behind their job, and inturn police forces equally require both intrinsic and extrinsicmotivation aspects to keep them focused on ethical work practices,and the aspect that would greatly reduce the extent of corruptionwithin the forces.


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