Corruption of Police Officers


Corruption has been one of the major challenges in police departments in the United States. Many cases have been regularly reported involving different forms of corruptive actions. They include collusion with drug lords, petty thefts from mugged businesses, hijackings and murders. This has affected the police departments as a whole in ways such as increment in corruption activities, misuse of department resources and lack of trust from the community. The department should encourage and reward honesty from its officers on the vice. It also should punish law breakers regardless of their positions in the department.

Corruption of Police Officers


Corruption can be defined as the decay of moral values and virtues in the performance of duties or tasks. It is characterized by dishonesty, unscrupulousness, favorism, embezzlement, misconduct and fraudulency. Police corruption is the abuse of authority in dispensing services to the general public by either way of taking bribery, abuse, protecting criminals, giving false accusations and making illegal arrests. Corruption in the United States started back in the 1800s after creation of the initial policing unit. At that period, hiring was guaranteed through the influence of the political class. All the political class required was immunity on criminality of its members. The illegality ignorance later generated abuse of power by the officers through bribe collection. The officers did away cases involving pick pocketing, coning and commercial sex which were criminal offences. This later led to development of the movements on public rights. A lot of injustices and discrimination on the public had been committed since their rights as outlined by the constitution had been greatly violated.

Cases of police corruption

Police corruption in the United States over the years has been greatly contributed by illegal raids, involvement in drug peddling crimes, hiding traffickers and maintaining false documentations and filings. To get a clear picture, we will look at various cases recorded involving corrupt cops in America’s police department over the years.

Corrupt Police department uncovered by Frank Serpico

Frank Serpico portrayed majority of the officers in the New York Police Department embracing corruption. Cops on rounds had to resort to bribery for patrol vehicles. Having a patrol vehicle showed one could go for patrols, collude with drug lords, make shady agreements and share in gambling. Serpico on witnessing then widespread corruption in the department decided to bring the truth to light. The truth was truly confirmed through Bill Phillips a fellow police officer who was captured receiving bribes from a brothel owner in the Upper east side locale. The officer confirmed on the immunity offered to criminals by the officers in the department. Frank nearly met his death in a drug incursion. His fellow officers strategically ignored notifying for an ambulance after he got shot although he survived. He later left the force after the experience (Dyrud, 2017).

Brooklyn’s Buddy group

Officers in Brooklyn stole cash from gunned down criminals, drug money from raids and steal items abandoned by criminals. In other instances, they even instigated false crime exhibits. They went for raids just to benefit from the money and drugs abandoned by the drug lords. Officer Henry Winter was later busted with a vehicle containing cocaine. He became an informer for the department against his fellow police officers. As a result, some of them were accused and others transferred (White, 2014).

Cocaine in the long island

Dowd Michael during his eight years in the force embraced drug trafficking generating a very high income. Apart from offering drug heads immunity, Dowd made away with drugs from dealers in Brooklyn and sold on the Long island. He failed to hide his income by embracing luxury through grooming lavishly, buying apartments and owning expensive vehicles.Dowd was later busted in a secret drug raid. His associate Eurell got apprehended and agreed to be an informer against Dowd. He was later imprisoned for trafficking drugs and other criminal activities (Parish, 2017).

The ‘Nannery Raiders’ in Manhattan

In the early 90s, the police withheld nine hundred thousand dollars on drugs. Traffickers flocked from surrounding areas transacting huge amounts even transacting at the police headquarters. The Nannery raiders not only stole from the crime exhibits but also coordinated drug trafficking. This was accomplished through faking radio communications to hide so as to carry out drug busts. The amounts left behind during the busts were sold again for personal gains. This led to increment of drugs by a significant figure in the streets. This was brought to an end under the supervision of Barry Brown as 33 cops got apprehended for obstruction of justice and drug trafficking (Albrecht, (2017).

How police corruption affects the police force as a whole

Embezzlement and Mismanagement of Resources

As corruption activities grow in a police organization, the needs to gain more by the police officers become escalated. They aim to earn a lot without extra hard work and as a result, the hunger to engage in more wrong doings for beneficial purposes is also heightened. Such include funds that may have been received from the government for a particular development activity. Greediness especially by those in a higher position may lead them to finding a substitute that will act as a complement to the activity funded.

This ensures that they are left with some of the funds. This is also stealing of public resources as they may deliver low quality of amenities other than the ones that had been intended by the government. In the long run, more embezzlement is experienced and funds are not well managed which may lead to deficits in the budgets of that organization. As a result of these corruptive engagements, the whole department will hence become mismanaged and finally resources render insufficient and scattered (Rose, 2016).

Diversification of corruption

Minute acts such as collection of bribes from citizens who might have violated certain rules such as in parking, taking advantage of situations in crime scenes and stealing from shops that might have been broken into and  favorism of friends are corrupt actions as much as a police officer may try to justify him/herself. The officer in the long run may end up getting involved in more serious cases for example protecting drug dealers by obtaining bribes in form of money or any other asset. This in turn ends up as a trend that the police officer has adopted and can become hard to turn on a new leaf.

With such trends, a culture in the police department of that officer, other officers may adapt to the trend set and corruption becomes a revolving act. When new officers are recruited in such an organization, they become aware of the fact and upon seeing their seniors’ wrong doings, they also become drawn to the set trend (Rose, 2016). In the long term, the police department will become a place where assets are more valuable to the officers than safeguarding rights of other citizens. These selfish acts lead to more wrong doings in a state as people become aware of how the turnout of felonious acts will be if turned in to the police, that is, they will easily get their way out by use of bribes.

Separation from the society due to mistrust

People in a particular state are always aware of the cases going on in their police department. If in any situation police officers deter from the set laws, the community becomes aware instantly. The issues of corruption in the police departments have led to disloyalty of people to the police. The public will have a view on the lack of integrity and will therefore not be willing to assist them in any way. Community becomes withdrawn and cannot count on the police to assist them in their time of trouble. They might also not help the police to discover the issues that affect them (Rose, 2016).The police and the department as a whole need to work together so as to resolve the issues affecting the community at large without any favorism and mischief.


Getting to know the impact of corruption in our police departments provides a precise reason for fighting it. It has been noted that our officers work together with criminals in drug deals, falsifying documents, theft from crime scenes, protection of crime syndicates and also taken bribery from the general public for favors. Therefore, the police departments need to take charge of the situation and shape the image of the unit. This can be achieved through punishment of wrong doers regardless of their position and rewarding honesty and transparency in the departments. This will help expose the problem in the departments.


White, M. D. (2014). The New York City Police Department, its crime control strategies and organizational changes, 1970-2009. Justice Quarterly, 31(1), 74-95.

Parish, J. A. E. (2017). Uncanny objects and the fear of the familiar: Hiding from Akan witches in New York City. Journal of Material Culture.

Dyrud, M. A. (2017). Ethics and Whistleblowing: Moral Quandaries.

Albrecht, J. F. (2017). Timetable: Police Deviance and Serious Misconduct in the United States. In Police Brutality, Misconduct, and Corruption (pp. 9-25). Springer, Cham.

Rose-Ackerman, S., & Palifka, B. J. (2016). Corruption and government: Causes, consequences, and reform. Cambridge university.

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