The Code of Silence, otherwise known as the blue wall, refers to the unspoken fact that police officers do not report fellow officers for abusing their power or for committing crimes while on the job. The National Institute of Ethics released a comprehensive report that revealed the reality of the Code of Silence in law enforcement.
After reviewing the research gathered from 25 law enforcement academies across 16 states it was concluded that 79% of officers believe the Code of Silence not only exists but it is also relatively common for officers. 52% of participants further claimed that the fact the Code of Silence exists did not even bother them in the least.
The idea that most officers believe it is okay not to report their colleagues for offensive behavior may come as alarming to many, but the truth is the Code of Silence is practiced in almost every profession. Whether it is taxi drivers, retail workers, or doctors, people have a natural tendency to withhold reporting the crimes of those who share the same professional title as they do.
The Code of Silence is more worrisome when it is practiced by officers because of how much trust and responsibility is placed on their shoulders. The job of an officer is to ensure justice prevails and that crime rates are decreased. If an officer is committing crimes themselves and failing to report the criminal activity they see, it directly goes against their role in society.
Can anything be done to stop officers from practicing the Code of Silence?
There is clearly a need to regulate this mentality and to create programs that help officers see how damaging this frame of thinking can be to society at large. If police departments truly wanted to decrease the rates of officer misconduct, they could introduce mandatory programs into their system that all officers would be required to participate in.
These programs could be geared towards helping officers understand the repercussions of letting a colleague get away with criminal behavior in order to encourage them to speak up when such issues arise in real life.
How Common is the Code of Silence among officers?
2,698 officers across 21 different states were interviewed and an alarming 46% stated they had witnessed colleagues commit a crime but had failed to report their activity to a higher authority. This fact alone proves that the Code of Silence is real, and it is actively practiced by law enforcement officials regularly.
Due to the high rates of police brutality and police misconduct many Americans are already losing their faith in law enforcement as a representation of true justice. By further practicing the Code of Silence, officers are increasingly earning the mistrust of members of the community who they have vowed to protect and keep safe from all forms of crimes, including crimes committed by law enforcement personnel.
If a person has been treated poorly by an officer, they should get in touch with a police brutality attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can help a person discern whether they were truly abused by the officer and whether they are eligible to litigate against the officer depending on their specific encounter.