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Police misconduct Essay

Police misconduct majorly refers to the various actions that the police officers (force) involve in their line of duty which are actually objectionable or questionable. Some of these activities are carrying out brutality, indulging in corrupt activities, falsely arresting various individuals without any basis, cooking evidence so as to justify the arrest of certain persons who might be actually not guilty, intimidation of the public in a number of ways, taking sides in the political arena so as to favor a given politician for instance the incumbent president, abusing various individuals sexually and also enhancing other forms of abuse.

Generally, police misconduct has been a serious problem world wide. A good amount of effort has been put in place so as to combat this problem but due to certain problems like the culture of resistance to change by individuals and organizations it has been very challenging. In this paper, the stand that I will take with respect to the topic is that police misconduct is indeed a very significant issue in policing as it was in the time of Serpico as described in the book ‘Serpico’ written by Peter Mass.

This means that it is a very important issue that must be addressed to ensure that policing in both developing and the developed countries occurs in a manner that is expected. Significant as it is, police misconduct determines a number of things in this area of service including how the civilians view and respond to the work of the police. Police misconduct is actually different from police corruption. As mentioned above, police misconduct deals with outright brutality and various things that the policemen do as they work (in their line of duty) which are actually can be questioned or objected.

Some of these things or activities actually go against human rights. On the other hand, police corruption refers to a given category or example of police misconduct that is normally basically tailored towards availing financial benefits to the concerned officers. This can also lead to the advancement of police officers’ careers due to not pursuing or selectively pursuing an arrest or investigation. Some examples of police corruption include: soliciting or accepting bribes so as to allow certain individuals to carry on with something which is unlawful, use of falsified evidence to secure the convictions of certain suspects.

This mounts to breaching the police code of conduct. Both police misconduct and police corruption are related to each other because both of them are actually done in the same way, it is only that one of them is an example of the other one which is relatively wide. Both of them are actually, the subject matter of these theses. There are a number of contemporary issues as regards police misconduct. Even though this is a real problem in the current world, various governments have not been very keen or serious with putting in place stringent measures to fight it.

Some governments have, however, tried to put in place some measures but the concerned officers continue to enhance this vice. Police misconduct has resulted in very serious consequences which includes unfair death of innocent individuals e. g. In January 1997, A thirty four year old man who was not armed was carelessly shot dead by a Rhode Island police officer after a low speed car chase, having been just suspected of driving a stolen car.

Another issue is that this misconduct of police has led numerous situations where the citizens’ rights are adversely violated by police officers for instance, some of these very innocent citizens are normally tortured, seriously beaten, or even struck to a degree that is not commensurate to the punishment for the crime they are being suspected to have committed and this is normally done when some of them are out rightly not guilty. It is important to note that even though police misconduct is actually rampant in many stations, we have not lost the fight against it. It is still very possible to cub this practice. This can be achieved when individuals, governments and even the officers themselves just organize themselves as it is currently in the United States and purpose to do away with this vice.

The specific topic under discussion here is that police misconduct is very significant an issue in policing as it was in the time of Serpico as described in the book ‘Serpico’ written by Peter Mass. There are a number of issues that actually qualify police misconduct as very significant.

It is real or true that this is a serious problem in the United States currently and even world over that actually affects us and consequently needs to be solved. There is no police department world over that is actually free of misconduct yet police officers are very important for the provision of security in all nations world wide. It means that this is a real problem that is actually with us and affects certain things in our day to day lives making it significant. This vice therefore has to be fought both locally and internationally.

It is also important to note that the departments of justice has in a way contributed to this seriousness because in some cases, they have failed to prosecute officers who are proved to have indulged in police misconduct. The law that is operational in many countries also does not clearly define how to handle this problem. It is apparent that policing is a very important requirement of enforcing law so as to facilitate day to day activities anywhere yet police brutality and misconduct has brought a hindrance to proper, good or professional law enforcement.

All the officers are normally well trained before they are allowed to practice policing yet the manner in which they carry themselves in this profession is so wanting. It is naturally expected that once these officers have undergone good training, then they should exercise a high level of discipline as they execute their duties. It is therefore a disappointment seeing them operate in a very indiscipline manner invoking the need to consider what should be done so as to put things right with respect to this. Therefore makes police misconduct a significant issue (United States Commission on Civil Rights. 1979).

The significance of the above is also seen through consideration of how it contributes to corruption in large scale in various states or largely countries. Corruption is a vice that really contributes to loss of numerous resources which should otherwise be used to enhance the development of various countries or cities especially the developing countries. Through police misconduct, some of the dues that are supposed to be received by the government directly for development e. g. through taxes end up unfairly in the hands of few individuals who use it in unwanted ways.

This to a larger extent contributes to underdevelopment especially in developing countries where police misconduct is actually rampant. One of the major roles of policing is to ensure that democracy is maintained in a country or state, for that matter. This involves among other things protection of the rights of citizens e. g. the right of speech so as to ensure that they command a good public trust (Champion, Dean J. (2001).

In a freely democratic state, individuals are in a position of speaking out or sharing what they know and desire freely without any unnecessary restrictions i. . the freedom of speech is practical. In the past, police officers have interfered with democracy in many states in a way especially during electioneering periods in which they lean on only one side of the political divide ending up favoring it over then other. In such cases, police officers have unconstitutionally prevented individuals from contributing to chatting the way forward on certain political issues at hand especially if there is a somewhat serious problem or crisis. Such matters are normally national and so affect a lot of things in the state.

This also explains why police misconduct is significant and should actually be seriously looked into (Archbold, Carol. (2004). It is also important to note here that each and every worker or rather civil servant in the current world is normally expected to achieve certain set goals and objectives(job requirements) stated by performance contracting in certain states. Likewise, policing in its mandate of enhancing law enforcement should meet certain standards that have been set for them. Research has, however, shown that most officers in the police force are actually very far from achieving the standards that have been set for them.

This poor performance is majorly contributed to by the police misconduct which includes brutality, corruption among other things. As a result of this, a number of things that are supposed to be achieved by them do not come to pass. This also explains why police misconduct is really significant and so a number of ways should be suggested to ensure that it is checked and managed. In the book ‘Serpico’ a number of incidences transpire which show out rightly how police misconduct occurred in this episode.

At some point it is evident that even though police officers are brought to a number of issues that they should respond to, they actually ignore and not act upon them after all (Tomasi. (2005). This is shown on page 14 of the book where key municipal and police officials are brought to allegations with an evidence by Serpico which they are actually supposed to act upon but up to this point, they fail to do so. “… and key municipal and police officials at last admitted under oath that, despite the specific allegations brought to them by Serpico, they had in fact done nothing. .. ” (pg 14). In another incident, we come across a situation where an individual is literally shot for some crime that was supposedly committed. According to the code of conduct of policing, no officer is supposed to shoot to kill save for specific circumstances which are actually entrenched in the law (Finn, Peter. (2001). For instance if an individual is actually in confrontation with a police officer in a given scenario yet he or she is not armed then the officer should not even attempt to shoot.

This excerpt suggests that the person was actually shot only that the bullet deviated from original line of fire which would otherwise paralyzed the person’s arms. “… If the bullet continued along its original line of fire, it would have struck the upper part of his spinal cord, paralyzing his arms and legs … ” pg 20. There are also cases in which police officers are involved in overreaction to gang problems. This is driven by the assumption that those who associate with known gang members must be involved in criminal activity even in situations that there is evidence that this is not the case.

Some of the things that the police officers do are mass stops and arrests of various people, demanding certain things from various people (like the youth) on the basis of their dress and race in stead of on the basis of their criminal conduct (Robinson, Paul H. , (2006). This actually amounts to breaching the code of conduct and professionalism of the police force currently and in the book “Serpico”. With regard to comparing and contrasting contemporary issues pertaining police misconduct and Serpico, we can note that in both cases, this has led to a number of very serious consequences.

One of these is unfair death or serious injury of very innocent individuals. This has consequently led to reduction in the labor that is needed by the state for instance in the civil service. This is because part of the labor may become lame due to torture or may simply be done away with due to death for instance through shooting (Mitchell, Richard H. (1992). Another thing is that in both cases, police misconduct has proved to be very challenging to control. A number of ways have been devised to curb this practice for example at some point in the Book; Serpico tries to challenge some people who are in the process of enhancing it.

Though it is not very successful, at least something is done. “… Peter Maas suggested that there was no point in his hanging around any longer. “What do you mean? ” Serpico asked him, puzzled. “Kid, it just can’t be,” the detective said. … ” pg 98. BODY This paper is basically about my stand of showing that police misconduct is actually a significant issue and that ways should be devised to curb it. In the introduction above a number of cases have been highlighted that show how serious this practice actually is.

A number of points will also be given in this section in support of the same From ‘Serpico’ and other sources (Hinton, Valeska S. ; DeWolfe, Ruthanne. (1981). Police misconduct in a way contributes to underdevelopment e. g. in a country. This can occur if police officers constantly indulge in corrupt activities denying the state a good amount of revenues which can be allocated to develop various areas (United States. (2007). In ‘Serpico’ a situation is described where one wants to give money to supposedly avert a given penalty.

If the person is guilty he would be taken to court where he would likely produce some dues to the state. In this case, however, Serpico demonstrates his independence and no need of the money. “.. Serpico started up the car. “No,” he said blankly. “I’m really pretty independent. I don’t need the money. ” “You sure? Real… ” (pg 102). Corruption as discussed above is a real enemy to development and so its practice here makes police misconduct really significant. Indulgence in unnecessary torture and killing/shooting of citizens also leads to underdevelopment.

This is because it interferes with labor which is very vital in a country’s economy. A report “police conduct report” indicates how police officers involve in unnecessary killing of individuals in the name of carrying out a security operation in the area. The killed individuals would have played a major role in enhancing the economy and so their death was a loss as regards development (United States. , Congress. (2001). Police misconduct also contributes greatly to tainting professionalism in the practice of policing. This is very important in commanding public trust and enhancing efficiency of the practice.

The book ‘Serpico’ indicates an incident in which various officers who are supposed to act on an issue fail to do it at the required time after having been forwarded to them. This is a sign of non-professionalism. “.. municipal and police officials at last admitted under oath that, despite the specific allegations brought to them by Serpico, they had in fact done nothing.. ” pg 14. In another incident recorded in one of the papers in the US, a young man was ruthlessly shot dead by a Rhode Island police officer as he was driving on one of the roads in the city.

This brother, who was actually not armed, was being suspected of having stolen a car. Proper professional police practice demands that in this case, the concerned is apprehended and a proper investigation is done. This brings out the significance because the practice actually interferes with the professionalism that is needed in the police force. It is also important to mention that police misconduct has contributed to the increase in crime hence insecurity of various properties in a state. This majorly occurs in situations where police officers liaise with criminals by receiving some cash from them and tolerating their criminal activities.

This leads to a lot of insecurity in the areas of operation of these people. ‘Serpico’ describes a situation in which a certain detective is reluctant to execute his duties as pertains to a given investigation (Maas, P, 2005). Serpico is being discouraged from staying any longer at the scene probably because Peter Maas has his own plans. “. 98 PETER MAAS suggested that there was no point in his hanging around any longer. “What do you mean? ” Serpico asked him, puzzled. “Kid, it just can’t be,” the detective said. .” Such kinds of negligence can really lead to more criminal activities.

External evidence is a situation where it is recorded in one of the US paper archives that given police officers deliberately delayed or rather averted a case that they were handling having made an agreement with the concerned that they would be given a big sum of money if the case was done away with. It was unfortunate that this plan succeeded and so the criminals went scot free. The danger of this is that the criminals may opt to continue with their criminal activities hoping that the same would occur to them in future. This increases crime in a country and hence insecurity (BATFE. (2006).


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