Updating Police Corruption

 Special Report from the United States Institute of Peace on Police Corruption

What Past Scandals Teach about Current Challenges

This new report supports the emphasis in my book about overcoming corruption as one of the major obstacles preventing the improvement of police in our nation — the other three I identified was anti-intellectualism, violence, and discourtesy). (See Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off About Protest, Racism, Corruption and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation’s Police, April, 2012

While it should not surprise us, we as a nation, have not been very successful in building integrity into the police departments of Iraq and Afghanistan — nation’s to which we have provide police training. But of course, that should not surprise those of us who follow the trends in American policing. I would maintain that we should be careful about what we are teaching Third World countries (especially those which are not democratic and observant of universal civil rights) about our system of policing — a system that I maintain is  “arrested” in its development.

Summary of their Report

•  Police misconduct has been a factor in the development of police institutions worldwide, but it is a particular problem in counterinsurgency and peacekeeping operations…

•  The most reliable and extensive knowledge about police corruption… is found in the reports of specially appointed blue-ribbon commissions, independent of government, created for the sole purpose of conducting investigations of police corruption (My note: see, for example, U.S. President’s Crime Commission reports (1967) and the New York Knapp Commission, 1970 and, more recently as an example, the report of the New York Commission to Combat Police Corruption, http://www.nyc.gov/html/ccpc/downloads/pdf/14th_annual_report.pdf.)

•  To reduce police corruption,  [This report recommends] creating external oversight over the police with a special focus on integrity, improving recruitment and training, leadership from supervisors of all ranks about integrity, holding all commanders responsible for the misbehavior of subordinates, and changing the organization’s culture to tolerate misbehavior less. [A major emphasis in my book].

•  This report suggests triage and bootstraps as strategies for reducing police corruption in countries with security threats. Triage involves targeting assistance in countries where there are solid prospects for tipping police practice in the desired direction. Bootstraps involves using reform within the police itself as a lever to encourage systemic social and political reform in countries in crisis or emerging from conflict [my emphasis]. Note: this is consistent with the teaching in my book — that police can be leaders within a society.

For the full report see: http://permanent.access.gpo.gov/gpo19349/SR%20294.pdf

[The United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan institution  established and funded by Congress. Its goals are to help prevent and resolve violent conflicts, promote postconflict  peacebuilding,  and increase conflict management tools, capacity, and intellectual  capital world-wide. The Institute does this by empowering others with knowledge, skills, and resources, as well as by its direct involvement in conflict  zones around the globe — see  www.usip.org]

While I did not intend my book to be an international model, it certainly appears to have that potential in other democratic countries, or those seeking democracy and a commitment to human rights.