The Danger of Corruption for Some Law Enforcement Authority Holders

Published: 2021-06-29 06:53:27
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Category: American History

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The danger of corruption for some law enforcement authority holders is that it may invert the formal goals of the organization and may lead to the use of organizational power to encourage and create crime rather than to deter it" (Sherman 1978: p 31). Police corruption falls into two major categories-- external corruption, which concerns police contacts with the public; and internal corruption, which involves the relationships among policemen within the works of the police department. The external corruption generally consists of one or more of the following activities: 1) Payoffs to the police, by people who essentially violate non-criminal elements, who fail to comply with stringent statutes or city ordinances. 2) Payoffs to the police, by individuals who continually break the law, using various methods to earn illegal money. 3) "Clean Graft" where money is paid to the police for services, or where courtesy discounts are given as a matter of course to the police. "Police officers have been involved in activities such as extortion of money and/or narcotics from drug violators. In order for these violators to avoid arrest, the police officers have accepted bribes, and accepted narcotics, which they turned around and sold. These police know of the violations, and fail to take proper enforcement action. They have entered into personal associations with narcotics criminals and in some cases have used narcotics. They have given false testimonies in court in order to obtain dismissal of the charges against a defendant" (Sherman 1978: p 129).
A scandal is perceived both as a socially constructed phenomenon, and as an agent of change that can lead to realignments in the structure of power within organizations. New York, for instance, has had more than a half dozen major scandals concerning its police department within a century. It was the Knapp Commission in 1972 that first brought attention to the New York Police Department, when they released the results of over 2 years of investigations of alleged corruption. The findings were that bribery, especially among narcotics officers, was extremely high. As a result many officers were prosecuted and many more lost their jobs. A massive re-structuring took place afterwards with strict rules and regulations to make sure that the problem would never happen again. Of course, the problem did arise again. One of the more recent events to shake New York City and bring attention to the national problem of police corruption was brought up beginning in 1992, when five officers were arrested on drug-trafficking charges. Michael Dowd, the suspected 'ring leader', was the kind of cop who gave new meaning to the word moonlighting. It wasn't just any job that the 10-year veteran of the New York City force was working on the side. Dowd was a drug dealer. From scoring free pizza as a rookie, he graduated to pocketing cash seized in drug raids, and from there simply to robbing dealers outright, sometimes even relieving them of drugs that he would then resell. Soon he had formed ``a crew'' of 15 to 20 officers in his Brooklyn precinct that hit up dealers regularly. Eventually one of them was paying Dowd and another officer $8,000 a week in protection money. Dowd bought four suburban homes and a $35,000 red Corvette. Not one person had asked how he managed all of that on take-home pay of about $400 a week. In May 1992, Dowd, four other officers, and one former officer were arrested for drug trafficking by police in Long Island's Suffolk County. When the arrests hit the papers, it was time for discipline among the police brass. Not only had some of their cops become corrupt, but also the crimes had to be uncovered and revealed by a suburban police force.
Politicians, as well as the media, started asking what had happened to the system of rooting out police corruption established 21 years ago. "At the urging of the Knapp Commission, the investigative body heard Officer Frank Serpico and other police officers describe a citywide network of rogue cops"(New York Times, March 29, 1993: p 8). "Later, in the same Manhattan hearing room where the Knapp Commission once sat, the new body heard Dowd and other

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