However, at the same time police are in the best position to be tempted by corruption, kickbacks, dealing in contraband, and covering up excessive force. While violating the law is not the norm for the vast majority of good officers that play by the rules, for those that don’t the system and organization places them above the law.
Police officers are in a position to abuse the law and will naturally take advantage of their position when the opportunity arises, and are in fact encouraged by the system to do so. According to Johnson and Cox, "Police officers are exposed to an extraordinary level of temptation in such areas as drug investigations" (70). As with any cross section of Americans, some people will be more prone to violate social values when there is an opportunity for economic gain. This factor is exacerbated by the fact that "little or no discipline is imposed when police officers witness fellow officers engaging in misconduct. As a result, public safety officers believe that it is acceptable to break the law or the rules of the department" (70). In many routine instances police officers, and the department, places their actions above the law.
The police department not only provides the opportunity fo…
Police are conditioned to form an unbreakable bond with their peers. As part of their training, "Police rookies are given the impression that they are under attack by the public and can only rely on one another" (Terrance and Cox 73). This carries over through generations and pervades the entire department. According to Terrance and Cox, "The problem is not a "few bad apples," but an organizational climate that molds new officers into thinking and doing as the organization wishes" (74). If the officer was honest when he or she entered the academy, by the time they hit the street they will encouraged to turn a blind eye to corruption and abuse.
Incidents involving police misbehavior confirms the theory that when police are given a considerable opportunity to break the law they will take advantage of a system that will refuse to report or punish them. In 1998, Human Rights Watch reported that police brutality was a persistent problem in US law enforcement. They cited cases of "unjustified shootings, severe beatings, fatal chokings, and unnecessarily rough treatment" and while they represented a minority of the total officers they found that "law enforcement supervisors, as well as local and federal government leadership-often fail to act decisively to restrain or penalize such acts" (Police Brutality). Police officers that operate outside and above the law have become a growing national problem.
Critics will argue that the public exposes the police to too much scrutiny and places unreasonable expectations on the officers. They will say that officers are often in life and death situations that call for immediate reactions and split second decisions. The heat of the moment can cause an officer to over-react, but should be considered