Corruption in Los Angeles Police Department – Ethics and Morality in Criminal Justice System

Introduction

Criminal justice system is one of the most important governmental systems in the country. It is involved in the reinforcement of the law in the country, and hence determining the general harmony in the operation of other governmental agencies, public and private institutions, and all citizens in a country. Police officers are the primary actors in the enforcement of the law. Their efficiency in doing this is highly determined by a number of factors, with individual morality and institutional ethical values playing the main role in determining their behavior and conduct.Morals and ethics associate to what can be considered to be wrong or right conduct. The two phrases are mostly applied interchangeably, though they are different. Morality denotes individual’s personal principles about what is wrong and what is right.  Ethics on the other hand denotes rules given by an exterior source for instance religious principles, or workplace code of conduct (Caplan, 1983). This paper evaluates an ethical event that takes place among some police officers and how it is influenced by various factors that include culture, history, politics and Moral courage.

Selected Event

The selected event in this case is corruption in a police department featuring Los Angeles police department. Los Angeles police department has maintained corruption legacy for a considerable time period. This has been undermining the officers’ ability to enforce law effectively (Caplan, 1983). By being corrupt, police officers become the law breakers rather than the protector of the law. They undermine the honor of their colleagues and of the region they are supposed to protect. Corruption normally happens when officers receives money gift or any other form of incentives to allow criminals to continue with their activities without being arrested.

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The gifts and incentives are taken as criminal protection fees. This arrangement happens mostly with drugs traffickers and gangs criminal operations (Winton, 2016). Other cases of corruption are seen in the traffic where motorists give money to avoid arrest or issuing of traffic ticket. The police in return act by directing them on the routes they can use to pass without being stopped. They therefore manage to continue with their operations comfortably under the protection of the law enforcement officers that are required to stop them. This goes against the police duty and against their moral duty of upholding the law, and being devoted in the protection of the citizens and their country. It also goes against individual morality.

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Drug use affects life of youths and other users negatively. Promoting drug trafficking for personal gains is immoral. Anyone who embraces morality should not support such acts. The act of supporting crimes for the sakes of personal gain is against the police code of conduct.  Normally in such cases, the involved police officers tend to be strict on the drug users, while they collaborate with the drugs traffickers. The frequently arrested individuals include young males and females from minority groups who are most likely to be involved in drug use. These drug users are mostly poor people living in the streets or with low life; school dropouts, unemployed, and young children experiencing family problems.

Conclusion Based on the Research

Unethical behaviors are very costly to the justice system. They are highly responsible of the broken trust between the public and the law enforcement agency. The public lose faith in the law enforcement agency and start seeing them as criminal and more dangerous to them. They stop running to them for protection and instead, they tend to avoid them for they are not reliable. Unethical practices in criminal justice system also reduce the system efficiency (Chappell, &Piquero, 2004). In this case, the police department will not ever manage to fight drug trafficking, drug use, and gang activities due to internal sabotage.

The problem of police corruption especially in Los Angeles has been there for a long time; in the early to mid-90s. It was initially associated with top officials in the system especially chief police officers and mayors of the city, before it progressed down to the general police officers.  One of the most commonly used theories to explain police corruption situation poor police payment, poor work condition, or the presence of some kind of unethical people who are bound to be involved in criminal behaviors (Domanick, 1998). The latter can be explained by the theory of rotten eggs where corruption is said to be the work of some immoral, dishonest police officers. The involvement of police officers in corruption especially in the US is also explained by the application of criminal law to enhance morality. Inability to enforce laws controlling moral standards enhances corruption since they provide unlawful organizations with a financial attentiveness in undermining the enforcement of the law.

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Mayor Richard J. Riordan acknowledged there being corruption in the Los Angeles police department and called for the right measures in fight it. He specifically recognized that this act has cast a dark shadow over the city police department. This happened during graduation ceremony at a police Academy in 1999.  His courage played a great part in initiating reforms in Los Angeles police department (The New York Times, 1999). Nevertheless, the matter was not that easy. The corruption network in the department included senior individuals who tried to use their influence to undermine the process of the reforms. Many involved persons tried to use their power to acquire immunity, and this made it hard to discipline police officers in the low lane.

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