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Is There a Panacea to Combat Police Corruption?

Jehad Alyahya, University of New Haven

Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash 

 

As this policy brief is guided by an evidence-based approach, it offers valuable information for states’ chiefs of police agencies, politicians, policymakers, and criminal justice practitioners to consider for expanding existing efforts to combat police corruption. This brief seeks to push forward three administrative policy options by identifying the need for: 1) an external and independent anti-corruption agency to investigate and oversee police activities, with a focus on internal affairs units; 2) frequent rotation in assignments; and 3) implementation of a mid-career psychological assessment to examine the level of police officers’ self-control, especially those receiving citizen complaints.

The brief begins with a background on police corruption in the United States, along with describing corruption, exploring policing culture, the causes of corruption, and the link between low self-control and police misconduct. Then, it reviews pre-existing policies to combat police corruption and suggests three policy options and recommendations that build on existing efforts to fight corruption. This brief is intended to enhance existing efforts against corruption, through developing or amending existing polices. It also seeks to provide anyone interested in this topic a sense of what has been achieved, in both academic and practical terms, and what needs to be done to improve the current response towards police corruption.

 

Nature and Extent of Police Corruption

Police corruption is a multifaceted social phenomenon that emerged in developed and developing nations since the late 1980s and early 1900s (Einstein & Amir 2003). Its costs obstruct efforts to the effective fight against crime and protection of public interests. The police force is the organization mandated to maintain public safety and order. When this figure is found to be connected with corruption, public confidence and trust are hindered, while an effective fight against crime and corruption is deteriorated (Williams, 2002). Empirical evidence has found a direct correlation between police corruption and crime related to drug selling, trafficking, and use; as this correlation becomes stronger, police integrity and competency become weaker (Andvig & Fjeldstad, 2008; Stinson et al., 2013; Stinson et al., 2012).

Data on 6,724 arrest cases from 2005-2011 involving 5,545 nonfederal officers across all 50 states showed that officers were arrested at a rate of 1.7 per 100,000 of the population nationwide (Stinson et al., 2016). A revised version of the same data, covering 15,200 offenses from 2005-2017, found 579 officers involved in drug selling or trafficking, 336 accepted bribes, 279 facilitated drug trade, 224 committed forgeries, and 53 engaged in sexually motivated drug crimes (Stinson, 2022). Though these data provide rich evidence on the omnipresence of police corruption, recent research that offers insights on how to advance existing efforts to address this issue from an evidence-based approach is limited (Stinson et al., 2016).

Considering the foregoing evidence that was presented, chiefs of police agencies, politicians, policymakers, and criminal justice practitioners are the primary actors who would potentially benefit from the current brief. By placing a heavy emphasis on politicians, Senior (2006) argued that without politicians’ support, corruption would likely persist due to the direct impact of passing laws and allocating funds. Thus, this brief aims to provide a greater understanding of the problem and the available remedies to mitigate it. However, it does not intend to downgrade the efforts of any policing and related agencies, but rather to explore the existing policies and actions in place, the missing parts, and solutions to address this problem.  

 

Contextual Background of Police Corruption in America

Police corruption has grown worse over time in the United States. Under the Lexow Commission in 1896, an investigation was conducted on police officers who accepted bribes from brothel and gambling operations owners (New York Times, 1986), while others engaged in a fixed extortion scheme (Revell, 2016). In 1930, an investigation by Judge Seabury uncovered extortion practices by 28 vice-squad officers against sex workers. In 1954, a Brooklyn bookmaker testified about paying $1 million annually to the police in exchange for guarding his $20 million gambling operation (New York Times, 1986). In 1972, the Knapp Commission was formed after a New York Police Department (NYPD) officer, Frank Serpico, blew the whistle against fellow peers for accepting bribes from drug dealers (Maas, 1973).

Between 1973 and 1974, more than 30 officers of the Detroit Police Department (DPD) were found to have engaged in heroin trafficking while operating a lucrative drug ring (Crackdown, 2002). In 1985, 15 Miami officers were indicted for robbing drug dealers and, in 1989, members of a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) drug unit were arrested for laundering more than $1.4 million (Stuart, 1990). In 1994, the Mellon Commission found evidence of NYPD officers selling confidential information and burglarizing drug dens and stash houses (Mellon Commission, 1994), and subsequently, an independent report into the LAPD’s Rampart area found evidence of a corruption scandal by the anti-gang unit (Rampart Independent Review Panel, 2000). Moreover, Police Integrity Research for the Public Good reported that hundreds of officers across all states have been arrested for bribery, forgery, and drug trade (Stinson, 2022). Philly Power Research (2022) found six members of the Philadelphia Police Department’s (PPD) drug unit had extorted drug dealers, while 31 Detroit officers were found to have forged search warrants and rob drug dealers (Newman, 2022).

 

What Constitutes a Corrupt Behavior?

Although there is no universal consensus on what constitutes a corrupt behavior, due to its theoretical ambiguity, Nye (1967) posited a broadly inclusive description of corruption. He viewed corruption as the act that deviates an individual from the public role of serving public interests to the private role of serving oneself (Nye, 1967). Building on this view, Goldstein (1975) saw police corruption as the abuse of power to gain personal benefits beyond monetary gains. Two years later, Barker (1977) argued that police corruption is initiated by misusing one’s position to acquire personal gains, which are not only linked to the goals of a single officer, but a group of officers, involving bribery, protection of criminals, and opportunistic theft.

Carter (1990) upheld the broadly inclusive description of police corruption by Nye (1967), but he attempted to link the act to officers who would abuse power in drug related situations. These situations result from drug raids by which corrupt officers take a benefit of this situation by offering immediate freedom to drug dealers in exchange for money (Carter, 1990). Equally, Khan (1996) viewed corruption as a deviant behavior that goes against accepted norms and formal duties to produce financial and administrative benefits. This inclusive description of police corruption is being adopted in this brief due to its generalizability and wide use.   

 

Culture of Policing

It is unreasonable to explore the underlying causes of police corruption without explaining the cultural environment of policing. The profession of policing is fraternal in nature, which leads to close ties among officers; in turn, loyalty and trust are established. Once these characteristics are formed, a close brotherhood emerges (Barker, 1977; Bleakley, 2020). The latter resembles familial relationships (Skolnick, 2008). When a family member is in trouble, it is expected by default that other family members will attempt to assist by any means. In policing, this brotherhood likely makes officers feel obligated to back one another. Bayley (2002) noted that if officers view the conformity to social norms and rules as a burden, they would likely violate those norms and rules. This view shows the effect of police culture on officer behavior.

Merrington (2017) posited that when a vigorous brotherhood is formed, the likelihood to engage in perjury and evidence planting increases. The effect of this brotherhood also extends to a full circle of corruption scandals, such as robbing drug dealers and extorting sex workers. This negative effect significantly worsens when officers assigned to specialized units lack rotation in assignments (Klockars et al., 2005). The structure of such units is small, isolated, and stable over the long-term (Bleakley, 2020). Thus, officers assigned to such units have higher odds of being involved in corruption, as evidenced by the aforementioned cases in Detroit, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.  

 

Causes of Police Corruption

As police corruption cases increased in the United States, academics, policymakers, and criminal justice practitioners have sought to investigate the underlying causes of this problem. Absences of managerial supervision, rotation in assignments, and effective leadership have been found to significantly contribute to corruption in policing (Newburn, 1999; Klockars et al., 2005). Low wages have also been noted to be a factor that drives officers to extortion, although evidence to support this claim is inconclusive (Lindner, 2013). Further scholars have argued that, instead of arresting criminals, corrupt officers establish close bonds with these individuals in exchange for mutual benefits (Maas, 1973; Punch, 1994). According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW, 1998), the Internal Affairs Units (IAUs) of the LAPD and NYPD were found to shield corrupt officers rather than punishing them through disciplinary sanctions or prosecution. Thus, an oversight role over the function and decisions of IAUs is necessary.    

A lack of officers’ training and accountability has also been found to influence police corruption (Williams, 2002). If police officers are neither well-trained nor criminally punished, their behaviors are not likely be corrected. A former Chief of Police in Kansas once stated that young police officers occupying lower positions tend to adhere to a high-level of integrity and ethics, but due to the organization’s hierarchal structure, they are forced to overlook corruption in their departments (McNamara, 1975). Thus, if corruption is tolerated from the top of the chain of command, officers of lower rank have little to no power in hand to deter it unless there is an external and independent agency that investigates and oversees the performance of police departments (Bayley & Perito, 2011; Gaffigan & McDonald, 1997; McNamara, 1975).

 

Self-Control of Police Officers

Other scholars have taken another route to understand why officers abuse their power, by applying Gottfredson and Hirschi’s (1990) self-control theory. According to this theory, individuals with low self-control (or the lack of ability to resist short-term pleasures) are likely to be impulsive, risk-seeking, short-sighted, self-centered, short-tempered, and possess a preference for easy physical tasks. Yet, the presence of low self-control alone is insufficient for crime to occur, unless it is confluent with crime opportunity (Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990). Taking police officers as an example, Kolthoff (2020) argued that officers who were found guilty of abusing their position have low self-control. Other evidence has found officers with low self-control are more likely to receive citizen complaints filed against them and to abuse their discretion in the line of duty to avoid traffic tickets or other violations, compared to those with stable self-control (Donner & Jennings, 2014; Donner et al., 2016).

In recent policing literature, low self-control remains a consistent predictor of police misconduct. Donner and colleagues (2018) examined whether officers who uphold the police code of silence – disguising acts that oppose moral and legal orders – suffer from low self-control. Their findings indicate that officers who concealed their peers’ misconduct are more likely to be impulsive (Donner et al., 2018). A recent study also found officers who engage in drug trafficking and drug use suffer from low self-control (Donner et al., 2020), while another study found officers with lower self-control have a higher likelihood to be verbally aggressive in their interactions with citizens (Donner, 2021). As a result, the psychological state of officers’ self-control can be a determinant for their involvement in corruption and other misconduct.

 

Pre-Existing Policies

Since police departments throughout the United States vary in terms of their bureaucratization, size, number of staff, available funding, and administrative policies, it would be counterproductive to only focus on one type of department. Yet, for the purpose of seeking a greater delivery of the forthcoming benefits in this brief, it is appropriate to recall past incidents of metropolitan police departments and review their general policies. In most metropolitan police departments, there is an IAU that investigates and disciplines officers for misconduct. The presence of this unit is designed to increase police legitimacy, integrity, and accountability, but it has been argued that the lack of an external agency to oversee the operation and decisions of IAUs is alarming, due to the possibility of biased and procedurally substandard decisions (Dunne, 2018; Liederbach et al., 2007). Regrettably, the IAU’s power also appears to be limited to complaints filed against patrolling officers, but not those at the top of the chain of command (Dunne, 2018). Thus, the presence of an external agency is needed to address this limitation.   

An early survey of police administrators concluded, on average, police investigations by IAUs addressed only 24% of complaints received (Heaphy, 1978). Subsequent scholarly work found an increase of handled complaint cases by IAUs to 30% (Adams; 1993; Liederbach et al., 2007). In other jurisdictions, IAUs have failed to effectively handle complaints; in turn, their competence has become uncertain (Adams, 1993). This failure may result from a lack of external supervision, which allows officers to collect bribes (McNamara, 1975). Relatedly, the Mellon report noted the failure of the NYPD’s IAU in preventing corruption (Punch, 2000), while the HRW (1998) report highlighted the poor function of IAUs in the NYPD, LAPD, and DPD. Recently, Seattle Police Department’s IAU also was criticized for its decisions that would vindicate officers rather than punishing them for their misconduct (LoCurto-Martinez, 2020).

Stinson and associates (2016) stressed the vital role of citizen review boards as an external control to reduce police corruption, but they noted that these boards lack influence over the police, due to their limited power. This finding was corroborated by LoCurto-Martinez (2020), who also found citizen oversight boards lack control over the police. In New York, the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) acts as an external oversight agency over the police, with a subpoena power, but its role has been criticized by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) due to a failure to address police corruption cases from 1994-2006 (NYCLU, 2007). Grant (2020) argued that the CCRB’s decisions can be biased, and that its functionality likely hinders the job of policing, rather than improving it. 

One may argue that other agencies have a mandate to combat public sector corruption, yet there is no individual agency that externally investigates and oversees the activities of police agencies, including IAUs. Certainly, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigates local and state police department corruption involving bribery, embezzlement, and fraud in line with federal laws, including the Hobbs Act of 1951 and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FBI, n.d.). Nonetheless, most acts are not subject to the FBI investigation, but rather to the IAU. Though the Public Integrity Section (PIS) oversees the investigation and prosecution of bribery of federal public officials, petty corruption cases may be handled by the IAU (Department of Justice, 2023). Thus, there is a need for an external anti-corruption agency with investigation and oversight powers over the police work (Bayley & Perito, 2011; Gaffigan & McDonald, 1997; Singh, 2022).

The lack of police officers’ rotation in assignment has also been shown to have a direct link to police corruption (Gabor, 1992; Klockars et al. 2005). In some agencies, there is an administrative policy that operates as a proactive measure, mandating supervisors to search and sanction officers who are found to be involved in corruption. Yet, the policy has been criticized for its poor effectiveness, as rotated officers would feel less trusted by their supervisors (Bracy, 1989; Gabor, 1992). For example, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) is one agency that has failed to establish an effective rotational system (Barnes, 2010). Findings of a survey administered to 30 police agencies in the United States revealed that only two agencies frequently rotated their officers to ensure that strong bonds could not be established (Klockars et al., 2005). This issue becomes more serious when officers are in specialized units. Given the nature of such units to be small and isolated, officers in these units are more prone to corruption than patrolling officers (Bleakley, 2020; Gaffigan & McDonald, 1997). Having a fixed rotational system can serve as an effective anti-corruption policy, as evident in other states (Singh, 2022).

Another policy issue pertains to the selection process of recruitment. It is estimated more than 90% of police agencies have an administrative policy to report a psychological screening of applicants to determine their fit for the job (Weichselbaum et al., 2022). During the recruitment process, applicants are subject to psychological assessments to identify personality disorders or deficits in coping with emotional pressures or substance use (Bulen, 2010). The most used tests are the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-Revised (MMPI) and the California Personality Inventory (CPI). MMPI identifies officers with a high risk of abnormal psychopathy, but it lacks identifying patterns with a less pathological condition related to self-control (Bulen, 2010). While the goal of CPI is similar to the MMPI, it was reported that neither one of the tests offer strong validity to its accuracy (Arrigo & Claussen, 2003; Lough & Von Treuer, 2013).

The issue with psychological assessments is not only restricted to the recruitment phase; it becomes more serious when there is an absence of conducting mid-career psychological assessments that integrate elements of low self-control. According to a 2019 report of the Office of Inspector General (OIG), the NYPD’s officers are not subject to psychological assessments post recruitment, unless a serious incident occurs. A recent report confirmed that NYPD personnel are not mandated to undergo psychological assessments in mid-career due to potential legal issues (OIG, 2023). The same goes with the Mundelein Police Department (MPD); officers are not subject to psychological tests to assess their self-control (OIG, 2019). By contrast, the State of Connecticut recently revised its mental health checks to mandate sworn officers undergo a psychological assessment once every five years, covering a broad range of mental issues that can be chronic and non-chronic (State of Connecticut, 2020).

The current focus on psychological practices resulted from recent findings that have found strong correlations between low self-control and police corruption in multiple agencies in the United States, including the PPD. Officers with low self-control may not possess abnormal personality traits early in their careers, but these may gradually develop over time. One study found a correlation between low self-control and police abuse (Donner & Jennings, 2014), while others found that officers who abuse their power to avoid traffic citations (Donner et al., 2016; Kolthoff, 2020), conceal their peers’ misconduct (Donner et al., 2018), or engage in drug trade suffer from low self-control (Donner et al., 2020). Therefore, conducting a mid-career psychological assessment is vital to ensure that officers are still able to effectively perform their job.

 

Suggested Policy Options

In light of the qualitative and quantitative findings of prior literature, three policy options are proposed in this brief for key actors (i.e., police chiefs, politicians, policymakers, and criminal justice practitioners) to consider to decrease police corruption.

 

Policy Option 1: External and Independent Anti-Corruption Agency

Establishing an external and independent agency with investigation and oversight powers can provide an effective approach for overseeing the performance of police departments across all states. This policy option entails several advantages and disadvantages:

 Pros

  • Increasing police integrity and accountability when handling citizen complaints.
  • Conducting independent investigations and oversee the performance of all departments’ activities and review IAUs’ decisions.
  • Ensuring that all staff along the chain of command adhere to the code of ethics.
  • Providing advisory plans and consultations to increase awareness among all police staff.

Cons

  • The formation of a new agency may receive resistance from some politicians and policymakers from a cost-prohibitive perspective.
  • The absence of either an investigation or oversight power may hinder the agency’s credibility and competency to address corruption in police agencies.
  • Police agencies may resist an external overseer by arguing that such a figure lacks expertise to make effective and correct decisions on police policy.

 

Policy Option 2: Rotation of Assignment 

Rotating officer assignments is not a new proactive method to reduce police corruption. Rather, it has been posited since 1989 and further emphasized since 2000, but sadly it has been greatly overlooked (Barnes, 2010; Bracy, 1989; Gabor, 1992; Klockars et al., 2005). A question may arise as to how long a rotation should be. The answer would be one size does not fit all. Barnes (2010) stated that the ideal length of rotation depends on the size, workloads, and number of cases of each department. The following outlines the pros and cons of this policy option:

 Pros

  • Alleviating corruption risks by limiting officers’ ability to promote the police code of silence or establish strong bonds or brotherhood with one another.
  • Enabling greater mobility and diversity within departments and specialized units, which significantly promotes morals and ethics significantly, while exchanging expertise.
  • Preventing the monotony of job routines by reducing stagnation, elitism, and corrupt cliques.

Cons

  • Opposing officers may resist this policy as it requires more years of training to be familiarized with doing different tasks effectively, while others may see it as punishment.
  • There might be a temporary episode of ineptitude when rotating officers for the first time.
  • Departments with staff shortage may not apply this policy effectively.

 

Policy Option 3: Psychological Assessment of Self-Control

Unlike most existing assessments that target chronic or pathological disorders (Bulen, 2010), empirical evidence has found a consistent effect of low self-control to predict officers’ abuse of power (Donner & Jennings, 2014; Donner et al., 2018; Donner et al., 2020). The posited psychological assessment policy is not novel, but rather it builds on existing tools by integrating elements of self-control that focus on issues of impulsivity, short-sightedness, self-centeredness, risk-seeking, short-temperedness, and a preference for simple tasks (Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990). These elements can be adopted from the conceptualized 24-item scale of self-control by Grasmick and colleagues (1993), or by using the self-control subscale of the California Psychology Inventory, as feasible with each department’s needs. Officers with complaints filed against them should be the main group to undergo this assessment. The following outlines the benefits and drawbacks of this policy option:  

Pros

  • Improving the possibility of reducing reported cases of officers abusing one’s power to avoid traffic citations and other violations.
  • Improving interactions and communication between citizens and officers.
  • Allowing for greater assurance over officers’ ability to remain mentally fit for the job.
  • Serving as a reactive measure to control one’s direct tendency to engage in crimes.

Cons

  • The consistency of low self-control as a predictor of police misconduct may weaken over time due to the presence of other predictors with a greater effect.
  • There is a possible occurrence of puritanical bias, which reflects in an ideology that puts the blame for misconduct on officers while neglecting broader societal factors.
  • The result of assessing one’s self-control can be subject to inaccuracy or wrongness.

 

Recommendation

With careful consideration of pre-existing policies, past and current efforts to address police corruption, and the available data to justify upholding the three suggested policy options, it is recommended to implement the policy option that offers the most flexibility and simplicity at minimal cost, which is ensuring a continued rotation. The lack of rotating officers presents a serious problem influencing the integrity of policing activities. This problem becomes more problematic when officers are specialized in units responsible for seizing drug money that is worth millions of dollars. If such units lack rotation, with strong bonds formed at the same time, officers will be more vulnerable to engage in corruption due to the presence of lucrative opportunities (Bleakley, 2020; Merrington, 2017). For example, in past incidents involving officers from specialized units in the LAPD and NYP, officers were able to form close ties with criminals to avert engagement in drug raids or offer them protection (Prenzler, 2002).

In some police agencies, rotating officers’ assignments falls under the umbrella of accountability policy that operates as a proactive approach. This policy backfires when officers resist being reassigned to different units without an established period, which can create tension within the department (Bracy, 1989; Gabor, 1992). Having a fixed rotational system is needed, especially for those officers working in sensitive units (e.g., narcotics/vice/anti-gang), to effectively prevent establishing close bonds (Abbink, 1999; Singh, 2022), but too short of a rotation was found to be ineffective (Barnes, 2010). One study of 3,235 police officers from 30 municipal police departments found rotating assignments is key to disheartening the formation of strong bonds that may encourage officers to engage in corruption (Klockars et al., 2005), as evidenced in recent cases in the DPD and PPD (Newman, 2022; Philly Power Research, 2022).

As per the suggested policy option of assignment rotation, police departments in all states can consider developing a fixed periodical system to rotate officers, especially those in specialized units, depending on the department size, workloads, number of personnel, and cases being handled. For this reason, the suggested option is framed broadly to allow police agencies to develop and implement the policy as it fits their individual contexts. Yet, there are three key elements that the policy should attain, at a minimum. First, agencies should ensure that there is a limitation between officer-to-officer interactions, to prevent establishing the so-called ‘brotherhood’ that may trigger corruption. Second, agencies should strive for greater diversity and mobility, not only to promote integrity and ethics, but also to provide officers with opportunities to exchange expertise and knowledge. Third, stagnation should be reduced (e.g., through training, education, or assigning different tasks). Importantly, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2017) has supported the approach of rotating officers in assignments, especially those assigned to specialized units, due to their susceptibility to establish direct links with organized criminals and drug dealers.

While it is important to emphasize the gravity of police corruption in America, it is also crucial to highlight the need for more evidence-based practices and studies to expand existing knowledge on this problem. The size of empirical data on assignment rotation is significantly limited; thus, the need for more research to fill this gap cannot be overlooked. States executing one or more of the above polices should consider making their data on officer corruption accessible to academics, to enable more studies to be conducted in this area. Their findings would likely yield greater recommendations to address this phenomenon more rigorously and accurately from an evidence-based approach. 

 

Annotated Bibliography

Abbink, K. (1999). Staff rotation: A powerful weapon against corruption? https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/document?repid=rep1&type=pdf&doi=f0f5f157bb0c02cf95ed44073bc0cb4e1d7a7086

This study conducted a random experiment to assess whether staff rotation prevents corruption in the public sector. Using the bribery game introduced originally by Abbink and colleagues (1999), pairs of possible bribers and public officials are randomly re-matched in every round, while the data compares the treatment group assigned to staff rotation ‘termed as strangers’ with the control group ‘termed as fixed partners.’ Results reveal that staff rotation can be effective in reducing the level of bribery and frequency of making ineffective decisions caused by bribes.

Adams, K. (1993). Measuring the prevalence of police abuse of force. In W. A Geller & H. Toch (Eds.), And justice for all: Understanding and controlling police abuse of force. Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum.

This chapter highlights the widespread abuse of force by police officers. One part of this chapter looks at the rate of successfully processed complaints by Internal Affairs Units (IAUs). In some jurisdictions, IAUs were found to successfully handle up to 30% of complaints received against police officers, while in other jurisdictions IAUs had failed to handle citizen complaints effectively. In turn, the goal and purpose of such units had become doubtful and uncertain.

Andvig, J. & Fjeldstad, O. (2008). Crime, poverty and police corruption in developing countries. Chr. Michelsen Institute Working Paper. https://www.cmi.no/publications/file/3076-crime-poverty-police-corruption-in-developing.pdf

This working paper examines how and why corruption arises in the daily course of police officers’ work in developing countries. The paper also examines whether cops are more likely to be corrupt than other employees in the public sector domain. It offers a closer look at explaining why and how police corruption occurs differently across various nations. Results found that there is a strong correlation between police corruption and organized crime; thus, police officers appear to be more prone to engage in corruption than other employees due to their possibility of forming bonds with organized criminals.

Arrigo, B. A. & Claussen, N. (2003). Police corruption and psychological testing: A strategy for preemployment screening. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 47(3), 272 – 290.

This article provides a suggested strategy for the preemployment screening of law enforcement officers. Existing psychological assessments appear to be flawed due to their failure to counter future corruption conduct committed by police officers. As a result, this article emphasizes on adopting or revising existing psychological assessments in order to have a greater prediction effect towards antisocial traits in the future, such as the Revised-NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R).

Barker, T. (1977). Peer group support for police occupational deviance. Criminology: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 15(3), 353 – 366. 

This paper highlights the scarceness of existing empirical evidence to employ theoretical frames to understand the issue of police corruption. It discusses the cultural deviance of policing as an occupation and how its structure provides potential situational opportunities to allow certain officers to tolerate corrupt practices. Peer group support has been highlighted as a factor of police corruption that can eventually lead to establishing a close brotherhood.

Barnes, J. (2010). The benefits of implementing a rotating detective position [Thesis]. The Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas, Sam Houston State University. https://shsu-ir.tdl.org/handle/20.500.11875/1676 

This thesis outlines the advantages of executing a rotational detective system in the policing structured environment. Among several benefits identified, a rotational system can help reduce the problem of job stagnation or burnout while ensuring the exchange of expertise and knowledge between police officers. The paper also highlights that implementing a rotational system would likely receive resistance from opposing officers; thus, resistance is expected to arise when attempting to support the implementation of a rotational system in the police force.

Bayley, D. & Perito, R. (2011). Police corruption: What past scandals teach about current challenges. United States Institute of Peace.

This report shares lessons learned from a review of public commissions into police corruption. One major implication of the report stresses the need to create an independent external oversight agency over the police work in which it focuses on promoting integrity, holding corrupt officers accountable for their actions despite their ranks, and enhancing training and hiring processes.

Bayley, D. H. (2002). Law enforcement and the rule of law: Is there a tradeoff? Criminology and Public Policy 2(1), 133 – 154.

This essay appraises whether a robust evidence-based argument can be made to uphold the hypothesis that when cops violate the rule of law, they do more harm than good regarding their collective and individual interests. It specifically touches on understanding the culture of policing as to why cops would violate social norms and rules, in favor to their collective or individual interests. 

Bleakley, P. (2020). The trouble with squads: Accounting for corruption in Australia’s specialist policing units. Criminal Justice Studies: A Critical Journal of Crime, Law and Society, 34(1), 1 – 37.

This article offers empirical and historical knowledge of the structure of specialized police squad units, specifically those related to drug units. Officers in specialized units appear to be at a higher risk to engage in corruption due to the lack of solid visibility to oversee their activities and the exposure to build relationships (e.g., brotherhood), including building bonds with criminals. The article concluded by urging governments to assess the efficiency of existing anti-corruption strategies to maximize efforts against corruption in police agencies. 

Bracy, D. H. (1989). Proactive measures against police corruption: Yesterday’s solutions, today’s problems. Journal of Police Studies, 12(4), 175 – 179.

This article suggests several considerations to implement proactive measures that can serve as administrative policies to combat police corruption. Among such measures is the implementation of a rotational system that ensures frequent rotation in police officers’ assignments. This measure has the potential to limit the prevalence of corruption in police agencies.

Bulen, D. W. (2010). The use of psychological screening in the selection of recruit police officers. https://www.occje.org/files/journal/2010_winter/Praxis2010FallWinterBulen.pdf

This article investigates the commonly used psychological assessments in the selection of recruitment of police officers across different states: 1) the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and 2) the California Personality Inventory. Both assessments have been used widely, but they have been criticized for the lack of accounting less pathological patterns or disorders. 

Carter, D. L. (1990). Drug-related corruption of police officers: A contemporary typology. Journal of Criminal Justice, 18, 85 – 98.

This article offers a systematic insight of the association between drugs and police corruption based on studying 13 law enforcement agencies nationwide through a content analysis of investigative documentations related to drugs, as well as conducting interviews. Findings indicated that there are two distinct types of drug corruption: 1) search for illegitimate aims and 2) in search of legitimate aims, by which both types were merged into the definition of what constitutes police corruption.

Crackdown. (2002). Policing Detroit through the war on crime, drugs, and youth. https://policing.umhistorylabs.lsa.umich.edu/s/crackdowndetroit/page/home

This project offers a historical view of drug-related corruption in Detroit based on a textual narrative and historical analysis with hundreds of archival documents, videos, and photos. In particular, this project explores the history of police violence and corruption, including crime politics and reform efforts from the early 1970s to the 1990s. 

Department of Justice (2023). Public Integrity Section (PIN). https://www.justice.gov/criminal-pin

This government website gives an overview of the role of the Public Integrity Section (PIN) in the fight against corruption. PIN specifically oversees the investigation and prosecution of all federal crimes that have an effect on government integrity, including offenses of bribing public servants, election crimes, and other related crimes. 

Donner, C. M. (2021). Does self-control contribute to police officers’ procedurally unjust treatment of citizens? A unique test of Gottfredson and Hirschi’s generality hypothesis. Police Practice and Research: An International Journal, 22(1), 240 – 256.

This study examines the unjust procedural misconduct in policing from a criminological lens by using a general theory of crime, self-control theory. The study emphasizes the problem of police officer-to-citizen daily interactions. Some officers were found to be rude, biased, unfair, and unclear about their daily interactions with citizens. To fill this gap, the study examines this assertion through surveying a sample of officers from a Midwestern police department. Results revealed that there is an association between low self-control and officers’ misconduct.

Donner, C. M., Maskaly, J., Popovich, N., & Thompson, K. N. (2020). Exploring the relationship between effective parenting, self-control, and adherence to the police code of silence. Deviant Behavior, 41(2), 137 – 159.

This study employs a multi-agency sample of 1,072 police recruits to examine the correlation between low self-control and officers’ adherence to the police code of silence. Results found that officers with low self-control are likely to adhere to the police code of silence by experiencing issues with anger, impulsivity, and were reluctant to report about the misconduct of fellow mates. Additional findings showed that officers with low self-control are at a greater risk to engage in drug use or trafficking.

Donner, C. M., Maskaly, J., & Thompson, K. N. (2018). Self-control and the police code of silence: Examining the unwillingness to report fellow officers’ misbehavior among a multi-agency sample of police recruits. Journal of Criminal Justice, 56, 11 – 19.

This study examines the suitability of using low self-control as a predictor of police misbehavior in relation to the adherence to the police code of silence. Using a multi-agency sample of 1,072 police recruits, results indicated that officers experiencing low self-control have a higher likelihood to not report their fellow peers’ misconduct.

Donner, C. M., Fridell, L. A., & Jennings, W. G. (2016). The relationship between self-control and police misconduct: A multi-agency study of first-line police supervisors. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 43(7), 841 – 862

This study investigates the relationship between low self-control and police misbehavior, using both Gottfredson and Hirschi’s self-control theory and Hirschi’s revised version of the theory. Based on a multi-agency sample of 101 first-line police supervisors, results revealed that low self-control is associated with predicting past and future police misconduct, such as abusing one’s power to escape traffic violations and other similar violations. 

Donner, C. M. & Jennings, W. G. (2014). Low self-control and police deviance: Applying Gottfredson and Hirschi’s general theory to officer misconduct. Police Quarterly, 17(3), 203 – 225.

This study offers the first attempt to employ Gottfredson and Hirschi’s self-control theory in the context of policing in America. The study examines whether low self-control, as a behavioral measure, is associated with citizens’ complaints against police officers’ physical and verbal abuse. Upon a sample of 1,935 police officers from the Philadelphia Police Department, results indicated that officers who lack self-control are more prone to involve in misconduct than those with stable self-control. The study significantly supports the hypothesis that low self-control predicts police misbehavior in relation to physical and verbal abuse.

Dunne, W. (2018). The effectiveness of police ‘Internal Affairs Departments’ in limiting corruption in police services – a literature review. https://curbingcorruption.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/181004-Dunne-Literature-review-of-police-internal-affairs-departments.pdf

This literature review article offers a rich knowledge of examining the role and effectiveness of Internal Affairs Units (IAUs) in police departments across different nations, including the United States. Key findings of the literature review illustrate that, although the role of IAUs is critical and can be effective, ensuring an independent and external agency that oversees units’ performance can lend a greater effect on reducing police corruption.

Einstein, S. & Amir, M. (2003). Police corruption: Paradigms, models and concepts – challenges for developing countries. The Office of International Criminal Justice, Inc.

This book is a collection of pragmatic efforts made by developed and developing nations in the prevention and fight against police corruption. Their efforts reflect in a series of significant challenges faced and experienced, in conjunction with offering several solutions to address the prevalence of corruption in policing agencies from different perspectives.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (n.d.). Does the FBI investigate graft and corruption in local government and in state and local police departments? https://www.fbi.gov/about/faqs/does-the-fbi-investigate-graft-and-corruption-in-local-government-and-in-state-and-local-police-departments

This site provides a brief answer to the above inquiry that the FBI is the responsible body for investigating violations of corruption by public officials at both the federal and state or local levels. Such officials will be sanctioned according to the applicable federal laws, including the Hobbs Act and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Gabor, T. (1992). Rotation: Is it organizationally sound? FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 17 – 19.

This article upholds the implementation of a rotational system within police departments. It argues that police departments that lack such a system are more likely to encounter two issues: 1) indispensable employees is a myth and 2) stagnation can lead to developing undesirable traits, such as lack of interest in doing the job. As a result, the author shares the experiences of the Culver City Police Department that supports the implementation of such a rotational system; in turn, it promotes integrity and morale.

Gaffigan, S. J. & McDonald, P. P. (1997). Police integrity: Public service with honor. U.S. Department of Justice. https://www.ojp.gov/pdffiles/163811.pdf

This report sheds light on the issue of organizational structure to combat corruption in policing. The organization’s structure is what determines the extent to which corruption exists between staff and units. To combat such a misbehavior, accountability, external audits, and rotational systems should be well balanced, checked, and implemented. Specifically, the lack of rotational system is found to be linked with police corruption especially in drug and vice units.

Goldstein, H. (1975). Police corruption: A perspective on its nature and control. Washington D.C.: Police Foundation.

This book offers an inclusive description of what defines and constitutes a corruption behavior. The author of this book views corruption as an act that goes beyond the traditional understanding that corruption always involves monetary rewards or gains. Contrary to this, the book argues that corruption includes both monetary and non-monetary gains through the abuse of power.

Gottfredson, M. R. & Hirschi, T. (1990). A general theory of crime. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press

This book discuses a general theory of crime suggested by two influential criminologists emerged in the mid-1900s in America. Self-control theory is a general theory of crime and the self-control measure can be used as a behavioral tool to assess the state of self-control among juveniles and adults. It has been argued individuals who engage in crime generally possess low self-control, but both theorists made it clear that the presence of low self-control alone does not cause crime unless a crime opportunity is available. For example, since cops have some degree of discretion to enforce the law to maintain public safety and order, there is always an opportunity for them to abuse that power.

Grant, O. (2020). The police officers’ perception of the Civilian Complaint Review Board [Doctoral dissertation]. Capella University.  https://www.proquest.com/docview/2487442173?pq-origsite=gscholar&fromopenview=true

This dissertation explores the perception of police officers towards the role that Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) plays in overseeing and addressing complaints filed against cops. Using semi-structured interviews of 14 officers, the study revealed that police officers believe that the work of CCRB seems to be an impediment to their job, while another finding indicated that despite such an impediment, officers are still being treated with respect from members of the board.

Grasmick, H. G., Tittle, C. R., Bursik, R. J., & Arneklev, B. J. (1993). Testing the core empirical implications of Gottfredson and Hirschi's general theory of crime. Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency, 30(1), 5 – 29.

This research article is the first attempt to examine the core empirical implications of self-control theory. It tests whether low self-control is a consistent behavioral predictor of crime based on its six personality traits: impulsivity, temper, risk-seeking, short-sightedness, self-centeredness, and preference of simple tasks. To better understand how such traits are examined, a closer look at Grasmick and associates’ work is noteworthy to consider integrating their conceptualized 24- items scale of self-control in future police psychological assessments.

Heaphy, J. E. (1978). Police practices: The general administrative survey. Washington, DC: Police Foundation.

This book highlights results of an annual survey of 49 national police departments conducted in 1977. Results indicate that most investigations ‘citizen complaints filed against cops’ handled by the Internal Affairs Units (IAUs) addressed only 24%. Reasons for this low rate of addressing these complaints resulted from either a poor functionality of the units or due to the possibility of gaining a benefit from the system through civil litigations.

Human Rights Watch (1998). Shielded from justice: Police brutality and accountability in the United States. https://www.hrw.org/reports/pdfs/u/us/uspol986.pdf

This report is published in response to human rights violations committed by police officers. It examines violations involving the use of excessive force, severe beatings, unjustified shootings, and verbal abuse when interacting with citizens based on 14 metropolitan cities, such as New York City, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. The report recognizes the widespread corruption in the police force concluding that the operation of Internal Affairs Units (IAUs) appears to shield corrupt cops rather than criminally prosecuting them.  

Khan, M. H. (1996). A typology of corrupt transactions in developing countries. IDS Bulletin, 27(2), 12 – 21.

This article assesses the effect of economic theory on identifying the conditions by which corruption arises with harmful consequences. The article contends that the classifications presented in the literature review is misleading, and this is due to that some successful governments have just suffered from corruption as equal as unsuccessful states have faced. To enforce effective actions against corruption, one must understand the effects of corruption and the determinants of these effects.

Klockars, C. B., Ivkovich, S. K., & Haberfeld, M. R. (2005). Enhancing police integrity: Research for practice. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. https://www.ojp.gov/pdffiles1/nij/209269.pdf

This report represents findings of a survey passed to 30 police agencies in the United States. Results reveal that among the 30 police agencies, only two have regularly rotated new supervisors between service areas and patrolling teams to ensure that strong bonds between officers cannot be established. The failure of other agencies to not rotate assignments of their officers raises a red flag that requires an immediate action.

Kolthoff, E. (2020). Criminological responses to corruption. In A, Graycar. (Ed.), Handbook on corruption, ethics and integrity in public administration, 434 – 448.

This chapter sheds light on the underlying criminological efforts to respond to corruption in the public and private sectors. It, however, draws more emphasis on corruption activities by public servants, such as police officers. The chapter specifically focuses on understanding the causes of corruption from the self-control aspect, which found that cops who are found guilty of misusing one’s authority lack a stable state of self-control.

Liederbach, J., Boyd, L. M., Taylor, R. W., & Kawucha, S. K. (2007). Is it an inside job: An examination of internal affairs complaint investigation files and the production of nonsustained findings. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 18(4), 353 – 377.

This study examines the role that Internal Affairs Units (IAUs) play in processing complaints received against patrolling officers from March 2000 to December 2003 from a large Midwest City Police Department (MCPD). Results found that most complaints received against officers involve verbal harassment or failure to respond to citizens’ requests. Implications of the study are to urge police departments to consider expanding their cooperation with academics in order to enhance the accountability and function of IAUs from an evidence-based view.

Lindner, S. (2013). Salary top-ups and their impact on corruption. Anti-Corruption Resource Centre. https://knowledgehub.transparency.org/assets/uploads/helpdesk/Salary_top-ups_and_their_impact_on_corruption_2013.pdf

This summary article explains the benefits and risks of increasing public officials’ salaries. Although one may assume that salary top-ups reduce corruption, this conclusion is not supported empirically; thus, findings indicate that increasing cops’ salary reduces corruption is uncertain. 

LoCurto-Martinez, E. G. (2020). Civilian oversight and police legitimacy in an age of conflict and distrust [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Tennessee. https://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_graddiss/5815  

This dissertation explores what existing mechanisms of civilian oversight boards need to be improved to promote accountability and transparency over the police work. In particular, it investigates the effectiveness of such boards in Los Angeles and New York City, including Kansas City. In addition, the study looks at the efficacy of Internal Affairs Units (IAUs) on disciplining cops for their misconduct. Findings revealed that the current status of oversight boards is limited to exert effective power over the police; thus, their credibility is uncertain. In addition, the efficacy of some IAUs appears to be questionable in the absence of an external oversight. 

Lough, J. & Von Treuer, K. (2013). A critical review of psychological instruments used in police officer selection. Policing: An International Journal of Policing Strategies & Management, 36(4), 737 – 751.

This literature review evaluates the effectiveness of psychological instruments used in the screening process of police recruitment. This review focuses on three instruments: 1) the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI); 2) the California Personality Inventory (CPI); 3) the Australian Institute of Forensic Psychology’s test battery (AIFP). Findings indicated that, although CPI and AIFP appear to be promising, there is no strong evidence to uphold their continuous use in policing.

Maas, P. (1973). Serpico. New York: Harper Paperbacks.

This book is based on a non-fictional true-life story, discussing the scandal of New York police corruption, uncovered by a brave police officer, Frank Serpico. Almost four decades ago, the State of New York was filled by massive corruption scandals among its police officers who were found to engage in illegal activities of abusing their power from establishing networks with drug dealers to involving in prostitution-related activities. The book serves as a foundational basis to understand the history of police corruption in New York. 

McNamara, J. D. (1975). The impact of bureaucratic dysfunctions on attempts to prevent police corruption. The Police Journal: Theory, Practice and Principles, 48(1), 37 – 44.

This article offers solutions to prevent police corruption. This includes establishing an internal investigation unit to ensure that there is a wise policy of rotating officers’ assignment in positions that are prone to corruption opportunities, and offering awareness programs to increase officers’ professionalism and moralism. Despite that, the challenge arises around the bureaucratic system that is being executed in policing. This system has regrettably led to eroding positive attitudes and eventually destroying the effect of the management system. Instead of preventing corruption, such a system would encourage officers to cover-up their misconduct.  

Mellon Commission (1994). Commission to investigate allegations of police corruption and the anti-corruption procedures of the police department. https://www.nyc.gov/assets/doi/images/content/timeline/MollenCommissionNYPD.pdf

This report includes the investigation of the Mellon Commission into the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) corruption scandals in connection to illegal drug trade and use. Unfortunately, the Mellon Commission was the fourth commission to investigate corruption in the NYPD. Yet, corruption during the Mellon’s time involved police officers’ facilitating drug trade and use, selling confidential information, burglarizing drug dens, and robbing drug dealers rather than engaging in gambling and prostitution activities as this was the case between 1950 and 1970.

Merrington, S. E. (2017). Dark networks: Criminal collaboration in Australia police forces [Doctoral dissertation]. School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology. https://eprints.qut.edu.au/103632/1/Shannon%20Elizabeth_Merrington_Thesis.pdf

This dissertation examines why police officers involve in corruption and how the established bonds or networks among them play a key role in their corruption involvement. Findings revealed that officers can engage in corruption due to the presence of structured networks protected by a subculture of unwritten codes or rules by senior officials. Planting evidence and perjury are common crimes committed by officers in that structured network protected by high-level cops.   

Newburn, T. (1999). Understanding and preventing police corruption: Lessons from the literature. Policing and Reducing Crime Unit: Police Research Series. http://tvernedra.ru/Pretotvkorvpolice.pdf 

This report attempts to offer a common level of knowledge to comprehend the underlying causes and sources of corruption in police forces, including the means to mitigate them. Findings noted that corruption cannot simply be demonstrated as a result of a few bad apples and that the absence of effective managerial supervisor and rotation in assignments are major sources of corruption. 

Newman, E. (2022). Major Violators: Investigators find systemic corruption in Detroit’s top drug enforcement unit. WDET and Wayne State University. https://wdet.org/2022/06/01/major-violators-investigators-find-systemic-corruption-in-detroits-top-drug-enforcement-unit/

This online podcast exposes a new systemic corruption scandal within Detroit’s top specialized drug unit, Major Violators Unit. Members of the unit were found to be forging documents and stealing money, while breaching existing policies. Their exposure was the byproduct of the investigation carried out by the Operation Clean Sweep Task Force, consisting of 26 city, state, and federal investigators.

New York Civil Liberties Union (2007). Mission failure: Civilian review of policing in New York city, 1994-2006. https://www.nyclu.org/sites/default/files/publications/nyclu_pub_mission_failure.pdf

This report produced by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) criticizes the failure of New York’s Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) to establish effective investigations of complaints filed against police misconduct. One key finding showed that complaints that involve police officers using excessive force are rarely found to result in discipline, while another finding revealed that the board has failed to provide an effective oversight system towards victims of police officers’ misconduct.

New York Times (1986, September 24). Police corruption: A look at history. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1986/09/24/nyregion/police-corruption-a-look-at-history.html

This news article provides a contextual overview of police corruption in New York since 1896 through the late 1900s. It discusses a massive pool of corruption cases and investigations in which they had been carried out under Lexow’s administration and Seabury’s commission. It also discusses the role of the Knapp Commission in the fight against police corruption in the NYPD.

Nye, J. (1967). Corruption and political development: A cost-benefit analysis. American Political Science Review, 61(2), 417-427.

This article outlines the association between corruption and political development from a cost-benefit analysis. It also provides an inclusive broad description of corruption as a deviant behavior accompanied with serious negative effects on both less developed and more developed states. Importantly, the article highlights how corruption contributes to fortifying states that lack power in its institutions.

Office of the Inspector General (2023). Ninth annual report: Office of the Inspector General for NYPD. https://www.nyc.gov/assets/doi/reports/pdf/2023/13OIGNYPDRpt.Release.03.30.2023.pdf  

This report is published in response to public criticisms towards the lack of police accountability, especially after the death of George Floyd. It includes policy issues that have not and have recently been implemented in the NYPD. Among these issues is the lack of mandating cops to undergo a mid-career psychological evaluation due to legal issues. Yet, the department conducts wellness checks on its staff, but the reliance on these checks may not be sufficient.

Office of the Inspector General (2019). An investigation of NYPD’s officer wellness and safety services. https://www.nyc.gov/assets/doi/reports/pdf/2019/sep/REVISED_FINAL_DOIOIGNYPD_OfficerWellnessandSafety_9242019.pdf

This report discusses the process that the NYPD executes when it comes to assessing its staff’s psychological states. Although the department has made some progress to reduce corruption, it fails to mandate its officers to undergo a mid-career psychological assessment. Yet, the only psychological assessment that may be needed in mid-career stage is when a severe incident has taken place. In other words, it seems to operate as a reactive measure rather than a proactive measure, which could hinder the quality and reputation of the department if officers’ cases kept increasing.

Philly Power Research (2022). Philadelphia police: A history of corruption. https://www.phillypowerresearch.org/news/2022/2/10/philadelphia-police-a-history-of-corruption

This project provides a historical overview of police corruption in Philadelphia. The project also briefs on the most recent cases that involved six members of the Narcotics Field Unit, who were indicted on 22 cases with robbery, extortion, falsifying records, and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine. Implications call for the need to regularly rotate officers in their assignments.

Prenzler, T. (2002). Corruption and reform: Global trends and theoretical perspectives. In T. Prenzler & J. Ransley (Eds.), Police reform: Building integrity. Hawkins Press.

This chapter calls for the need to fight corruption within the police forces. An effective strategy to limit this issue reflects in the need to rotate police officers’ assignments on a frequent basis. The prevalence of corruption in police departments persists due to a lack of effective rotation, especially in specialized drug or vice units that allow officers to establish strong bonds.

Punch, M. (2000). Police corruption and its prevention. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 8 301 – 324.

This article centers on two premises, discussing police corruption and its prevention mechanisms. First, the article explains that corruption at the organizational policing level does not require a temporary action to combat, but rather a permanent action should be taken to ensure that this problem does not persist. Second, the article reaches an agreement around the most meaningful means to combat police corruption. For example, strong leadership, well-resourced internal affairs units, and the continuous assurance of promoting ethics are key preventative measures against police corruption.  

Punch, M. (1994). Rotten barrels: Systemic origins of corruption. In E. W. Kolthoff (Ed.), Strategies for controlling police corruption. Arnhem: Gouda Quint.

This chapter calls for the need to establish robust managerial supervision to hold police officers accountable for their misconduct. The lack of effective managerial supervision and accountability lead officers to affiliate with criminals in exchange for mutual benefits. In addition, it is suggested that even those officers who are high on the chain of command should be watched due to the significant power and discretion they have.

Rampart Independent Review Panel (2000). A report to the Los Angeles board of police commissioners concerning the operations, policies, and procedures of the Los Angeles Police Department in the wake of the Rampart scandal.  https://exonerations.newkirkcenter.uci.edu/groups/sites/default/files/2020-06/OTH%20Rampart%20independent%20review%20panel.pdf

This report carries out an investigation into Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) corruption scandals involving the use of excessive force and violence against street gangs within the Rampart area. Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) is a specialized anti-gang unit within the LAPD. At that time, the department’s administration gave CRASH discretion to aggressively combat street gang crimes. Although CRASH was able to reduce the crime rate, this success has come with a price. Officers of the unit were found to ignore full adherence to the existing policies and procedures of the LAPD, while the department’s supervisors were also found to overlook warning signs and fail to provide effective oversight over the unit’s activities. This malpractice creates a massive corruption scandal that includes charges of evidence-planting and incidents of attempted murder and the beating of suspects.

Revell, K. D. (2016). New York exposed: The Gilded Age police scandal that launched the Progressive Era. The Journal of American History, 104, 206 – 207.

This article briefs on the efforts made by the Lexow Committee to expose corruption within New York City Police Department (NYPD) in the late 1800s and early 1900s, involving more than 650 witnesses that produced the most damaging history of the department’s reputation. Extortion and lucrative operations were found to be common crimes committed by corrupt cops.  

Senior, I. (2006). Corruption – the world’s big C: Cases, causes, consequences, cures. London: The Institute of Economic Affairs.

This book explores the sources of corruption, including its dreadful consequences on societies, followed by offering solutions to address it. One aspect among others the book discuses is the crucial role that politicians play in the fight against corruption whether in the police force or not. Their involvement in the agenda of fighting corruption is extremely necessary since they are one of the primary groups that affect passing legislations and allocating funds to government’s entities. Without their support, police agencies may not secure the needed political and funding support to improve existing efforts in the fight against police corruption.

Singh, D. (2022). Causes of police corruption and working towards prevention in conflict-stricken states. Laws, 11(69), 1 – 19

This article explores the causes of police corruption in several states, including the means to mitigate this problem. Rotating police officers in assignments has been suggested as a significant anti-corruption ‘administrative’ policy. However, its implementation should be supported by a fixed system. Another complementary solution to deter police corruption requires an effective presence of an external oversight agency to oversee the activities of police departments.

Skolnick, J. H. (2008). Enduring issues of police culture and demographics. Policing & Society, 18(1), 35 – 45

This article sheds light on issues that exist in the policing culture and the impact of new demographics of law enforcement.  A key takeaway reflects in the effect of establishing a close brotherhood among police officers. This brotherhood has been described as equally similar as to a relationship with family members; thus, if such a relationship presents in the force, this raises a red flag and potential opportunities of corruption.

State of Connecticut (2020). Police officer standards and training council guidance policy: Mental health wellness checks in accordance with July special session, Public Act No. 20-1. https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/POST/GENERAL_NOTICES/2020/Revised-91721-Final-Mental-Health-Wellness-Checks-Final-GN2011.docx

This policy includes the provisions of Public Act No. 20-1 created by the Police Officer Standards and Training Council, in collaboration with Connecticut’s municipal and state police agencies. This policy mandates all sworn police officers to undergo a psychological and wellness examination on a periodic basis of every 5 years. Such an examination does not only identify chronic or acute conditions related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but also helps identify other mental issues that are less chronic or severe.

Stinson, P. M. (2022). The Henry A. Wallace police crime database: Police integrity research for the public good. https://policecrime.bgsu.edu/

This site includes a police crime database of more than 15,000 criminal arrest cases from 2005 to 2017, involving more than 12,000 sworn police officers who have been charged with one or multiple crimes ranging from drugs, gambling, and prostitution to bribery, forgery, embezzlement and other related offenses across all 50 states. 

Stinson, P. M., Liederbach, J., Lab, S. P., Brewer, S. L. (2016). Police integrity lost: A study of law enforcement officers arrested. Criminal Justice Faculty Publications, 63, 1 – 669.

This qualitative study seeks to explore the arrests of law enforcement officers across all 50 states from 2005-2011. Using data of 6,724 arrests involving 5,545 nonfederal law enforcement officers, results indicate that between 70% and 72% of cops lost their job due to engaging in sex-related crimes and drug-related offenses, while only 38% of them lost their job because of alcohol-related cases. The study suggests that all state and local police departments should consider conducting annual background checks and performance assessments on every sworn officer. 

Stinson, P. M., Liederbach, J., Brewer, S. L., Schmalzried, H., & Mathna, B. E. (2013). A study of drug-related police corruption arrests. Criminal Justice Faculty Publications, 10, 1–41.

This study offers empirical data of drug-related cases involving police officers. Using 221 cases related to drug arrests of police officers across 141 police agencies in the United States, results indicate that cocaine was the most widespread drug used or trafficked by police officers.

Stinson, P. M., Liederbach, J., Brewer, S. L., Schmalzried, H., & Mathna, B. E. (2012). Research brief one-sheet No.3: Police drug corruption: What are the drugs of choice? Criminal Justice Faculty Publications, 23, 1 – 2.

This fact sheet is complementary to the published study of those mentioned scholars (see above) regarding drug-related police corruption. Based on the news searches that identify 221 cases of police drug corruption, findings reveal that 44% of police arrests involved drug use, trafficking, or selling, followed by robbery, rape, aggravated assault, thefts, and burglary.

Stuart, C. C. (1990). When cops go bad. Frontline. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/archive/copsgobad.html

This clip tells the true story of the Miami River murders, the case to which it has exposed the widespread corruption in Miami’s police force in the late 1980s. It also briefs on a similar case that occurred in Los Angeles, which involved a massive corruption scandal in the police force.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2017). World drug report: Executive summary - conclusions and policy implications. UNODC Research, https://www.unodc.org/wdr2017/field/Booklet_1_EXSUM.pdf

This report highlights several policy implications that law enforcement agencies should take into account to reduce widespread drug trade, use, and trafficking, including corruption. The report offers several conclusions; one of them is that law enforcement agencies should consider adopting a rotational system of their officers in order to reduce corruption opportunities. The report specifically notes that officers in specialized units are more prone than others; thus, rotation should be prioritized in these units. 

Weichselbaum, S., Siegel, E. R., & Rappleye, H. (June 10, 2022). Most police departments make recruits undergo psychological evaluation. Federal law enforcement agencies? Not so much. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-courts/police-departments-make-recruits-undergo-psychological-evaluation-fede-rcna32850

This news article underlines the ratio of using psychological assessments in policing agencies in the United States. It notes that 90% of local law enforcement agencies report a psychological assessment for their candidates upon the recruitment phase.

Williams, H. (2002). Core factors of police corruption across the world. Forum on Crime and Society, 2(1), 85 – 99. 

This article scrutinizes the cultural and institutional factors that account for police corruption in several countries. Several core factors to explain the extent of police corruption have emerged. Lack of training, poor departmental resources, and failing accountability systems are major factors that allow corruption to persist in the police force.

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