Sunday, November 10, 2013

Minimizing the Likelihood of Bad Cops

Recent stories touted by Glenn Beck and flashing across the patriotic blogosphere tell of egregious transgressions by city police officers.  Put your search engine to work on "police violence" or "police corruption" and like the paradox of the marching Chinese, the stories will continue to appear faster than you can read them all.  But the fact is that typically a police officer candidate submits about 40 pages of background in an application. After that investigation, after passing an accredited academy, and after probationary periods and required reviews, some sheep stray from the fold.  Is it the individuals, or the system, or something deeper?

My first class in criminology in 2005 was "Ethics for Criminal Justice" at Washtenaw Community College.  Initially, the syllabus said that we were going to look at police corruption in New Orleans, but Hurricane Katrina hit, and our instructor wanted to give the city time to recover.  The irony is inescapable.

In 2008, completing a bachelor of science in criminology at Eastern Michigan University, I had a required senior class in police organization.  For both that first and last class my research into police corruption found that it is known everywhere, and some places have more of it than others. That opens a sociological or anthropological investigation: why do cultures differ? Physical environment and population can be similar, but outcomes can be pleasantly or horribly disparate.  While police corruption is known in Minneapolis their police force seems to suffer less from moral failures. 

We know at the individual level that female officers write more traffic tickets than do male officers.  Females also have statistically fewer complaints lodged against them by the public.  Education also makes a difference: officers with college education (2-year or 4-year) write more tickets than those with just high school diplomas.  Also, educated officers have fewer complaints lodged against them.  It would seem that the ideal police force would be comprised largely of women with college degrees. 

The Fallibility of Fingerprinting
Junk Criminology in the Courtroom
Eyewitness Testimony: Popper, Wittgenstein, and the Innocence Project
Systemic Injustice
Employee Theft
Criminalistics: Science or Folkway?
A Forensics Bibliography

1 comment:

  1. Interesting.....(found your link here in The Gulch BTW)... I heard a rumor that a big part of the corruption within NOPD went all the way to the top "Big Time". For example, the Cops that "walked away, abandoned their duties, and never came back during the Katrina emergency never actually existed. They were simply fabrications to get subsidies and payments in a giant fraud scheme. (What real person doesn't come back for Back Pay, pension, medical benefits or even to clean out a locker, or have a car in the parking lot?) Corruption (immoral behavior) is/was the culture in this case as is the New Mexico news story. Both are appear to be entitled behavior within a cast system, in a manner of thinking that is. In my opinion, and I dare say, the view of the populace was not as individuals with equal rights, but as subjects.....
    just my $0.02