Corruption is a form of dishonesty or criminal offense undertaken by a person or organization entrusted with a position of authority, to acquire illicit benefit or abuse power for their own private gain. Law enforcement has been accused of increasing corruption through various violations against community members and other state and federal laws.
Acts of corruption committed by the police result in different types of victimization.
Stealing from businesses and individuals is an obvious dereliction in police duty that has direct impact on victims. These types of activities often occur because of available access to certain areas, such as unlocked shops, crime scenes or vehicle compounds, where police may steal various items and goods. Officers have also been known to collude with professional criminals in carjacking rings or the sale of illegally acquired firearms from police storage. When police officers use “illegitimate methods” such as lying about the circumstances surrounding an arrest or tampering with evidence in order to secure a conviction and falsely augment their performance, it must be viewed as a corrupt act that may result in the unlawful arrest or conviction of possibly innocent defendants.
Practices of receiving kickbacks from businesses and the extortion of money from prostitutes, or illegal immigrants are crimes against individuals who live under the threat of police power that negatively impacts their lives. The refusal of police protection unless a citizen provides some valued product or service to the officer is also a crime against the community.
Taking bribes for allowing bars or clubs to remain open longer than allowed by law, or accepting money for allowing drug deals is a corrupt action by officers along with other lack of enforcement such as “looking the other way” for prostitution and gambling offences in return for a pay-off. Each time an officer acts unethically and rationalizes his actions as being victimless, it makes it easier to avoid enforcing the law. Once an officer’s self-image becomes tattered and his perception of acceptable infringements of the law grows, it leads to more than petty corruption. Sometimes an officer believes he is entitled to gifts and perks for performing his job and becomes unhinged if those perks are something the officer depended upon to maintain a certain lifestyle. Individual police actions can reflect badly on the department and the general culture of the organization. Once an officer has committed a corrupt act, their willingness to expose others engaging in corruption will be diminished and can change the overall culture of a police department. This type of negative change can reduce credibility in the community along with other corrupt acts such as excessive force, perjury, witness tampering and collusion.
Decreased public trust.
A very real effect of police corruption is the decrease in public trust, reducing the effective presence of police in a community and decreasing public safety. Criminal arrests will not be as easy if the community does not participate and share necessary information with officers and that can hinder crime fighting efforts. Given the importance of public assistance to police in crime fighting, it is easy to see the damaging effects of police corruption. Sometimes it is wise to speak to a police brutality lawyer to see if there are any actions that citizens may take to ensure that police corruption stays at a minimum in their community.