unavoidable aspect of police work

Corruption is a necessary and unavoidable aspect of police work.

It is often said that a rotten apple spoils the barrel. Professor Punch’s thesis can be neatly summed up by drawing on the metaphor of the corrupt officer as a ‘rotten apple’. He rejects this simile and asserts that it is rarely the case that serious corruption can be pinned exclusively upon one or a few individual officers. He argues that it is not the ‘apple’ that is ‘rotten’, but the ‘barrel’, if not the orchard or, in some cases, the whole fruit industry. In other words, a single corrupt police officer does not make the whole police department corrupt, rather it is the responsibility of the department to make sure corrupt people are not to be designated as police officers. Police corruption is systemic. More than that, it is universal amongst police organizations. If you haven’t suffered a corruption scandal recently, then it’s because you haven’t looked for one! (Punch, M., 2009).

In addition to that, the Rodney King case was not an isolated example: in Britain, the quality of evidence required to bring a prosecution against a police officer who is alleged to have committed a serious offence in the course of his or her duty is officially acknowledged to be much higher than that required for other cases. The reason is that juries are unwilling to convict police officers. I suspect that this is true elsewhere. (Waddington, P.A.J., 2010) The problem will only be solved when the genuine professionalization of policing offers not only the opportunity to greatly improve the competence with which officers serve the public but also the accompanying pride in that professional standing which will create and sustain a bulwark against anyone who is tempted to sully it. (Waddington, P.A.J., 2010)

Similarly, Police scandals during the last two decades of the twentieth century exposed dramatic cases of drug‐related corruption in several major American cities. Scandal emerged in Miami (FL) with the criminal indictment of a band of rogue cops dubbed as the “River Gang” who specialized in the shakedown and theft of drug dealers (Sechrest and Burns, 1992). Scandal also erupted in two New York City precincts where investigations uncovered wide‐scale drug corruption including police who burglarized drug dens, trafficked in stolen drugs, and robbed drug dealers and their customers (Baer and Armao, 1995). In Los Angeles (CA), officers assigned to the Rampart division of the LAPD committed acts of drug‐related corruption that involved participation in a bank robbery, the theft of cocaine from a police evidence room, and the beating of an arrested drug dealer (Los Angeles Police Department, 2000). A report of the US General Accounting Office (GAO) outlined other contemporary drug‐related corruption scandals in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, New Orleans, and Philadelphia (US General Accounting Office, 1998). The larger study on police wrongdoing distinguished 2,119 criminal cases that included the arrest of 1,746 sworn officers amid the period of January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2007. The captured officers were employed by 1,047 nonfederal law enforcement organizations speaking to all 50 states. (Stinson. P, 2013)

“The extortion is at all levels of the force. If you try to fight it, they cut you down,” says a 13-year veteran from Mexico – ex-policeman Jose Angel Perez Lopez. Most importantly the police in the streets are sandwiched between angry citizens and their corrupt supervisors demanding more money.” So, in a way some officers are compelled to take bribes. If they do not do so, with the help of higher-level police supervisors, the officers are threatened and harmed. Ex-policeman Ricardo Chaires Coria claims he was kidnapped two weeks ago and threatened for two days by unknown persons. Collecting bribes, says tow-truck policeman Martin Perez Garduno, goes with the job. “I have no choice. Until six months ago, I had to pay my boss 50,000 pesos ($16.50) a shift. Now it’s 100,000 pesos ($33) every eight-hour shift. This has got to stop.” Mr. Perez Gardus salary is some 35,000 pesos ($11.50) per day.

It is a rare Mexico City driver or a businessperson who has not felt la mordida or “the bite.” Typically, one is pulled over either on a pretext or for a legitimate traffic violation. A bribe is never overtly requested, but every violation seems to require “a trip to the station” to do the paperwork. As “a favor, you can pay your ‘fine’ now.” The police officers leave you with no choice than to bribe them. If you insist on going to the station, generally, the police may argue that it is cheaper to pay the “fine” now or may simply let you go. When the local public questioned authority about the corruption that was going on, Maria del Carmen Segura Rangel, president of the city assembly’s justice commission replied “We all know there’s corruption in the police force. The problem is getting proof to get at the root of the problem” (Scott, David Clark, 1992)

All in all, corruption has been a serious issue in policing all over the world. Some cases have been exposed, dealed with and solved while thousands of cases are buried in a paper FIR sitting somewhere, unresolved. I could not find a single case where police corruption has done something good to the society. Thus, I believe police corruption should not be tolerated in any level and with the help of the general public and the police department can be avoided. Further details will be included on the final essay.

The sentences being italicized and bold are my major areas of research. Those will be focused on the final essay.


Baer, H. Jr and Armao, J.P. (1995), “The Mollen commission report: an overview”, New York Law School Law Review, Vol. 40 Nos 1‐2, pp. 73‐85.

Los Angeles Police Department (2000), “Board of inquiry into the rampart area corruption incident, public report”,

Punch, M. (2009). Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing. Collumpton: Willan.

Punch, M. (1985). Conduct Unbecoming: The Social Construction of Police Deviance and Control. London: Tavistock.

Scott, David Clark, 1992. Mexico City police strike over corruption in ranks. (mandatory bribe-taking necessary to keep job, police complain). The Christian Science Monitor, p.1.

Sechrest, D.K. and Burns, P. (1992), “Police corruption: the Miami case”, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 294‐313.

Stinson, P.Liederbach, J.Brewer, S.Schmalzried, H.Mathna, B. and Long, K.(2013), “A study of drug‐related police corruption arrests”, Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 36 No. 3, pp. 491-511.

US General Accounting Office (1998), Report to the Honorable Charles B. Rangel, House of Representatives: Law Enforcement: Information on Drug‐related Police Corruption, General Accounting Office, Washington, DC

Waddington, P.A.J., 2010. Police Corruption. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 4(4), pp.313–314.

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