The police occupy a special position in societal hierarchy. In essence, they are considered the vanguards of law and order, with people looking up to them as enforcers of law. With this unique opportunity comes power and authority which is meant to aid them in carrying out their mandate. The general expectation amongst most people is that members of law enforcing agencies are honest individuals with impeccable records of integrity, but nothing could be further from the truth. Over the years, news outlets have been awash with claims of so-called “dirty cops” among members of the force, sparking heated debates about police misconduct. In truth, cases of police engaging in inappropriate or even illegal actions are a reality that society now has to contend with.
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It is vital to acknowledge that police officers are also human beings, which means there are times when they would fall short of the oath they took. Governments across the world have recommended the formation of policing authorities to monitor their actions at any given time to ensure that they operate within the confines of the law (Prenzler, 2009). Nevertheless, police miscount still remains an existential problem with more cases being reported involving offers who even have the audacity to obstruct the course of justice. Such cases have come to light with the advent of new technology and social media platforms where, for instance, videos of police brutality are shared. The purpose of this essay is to discuss misconducts in policing, their causal factors and strategies used to prevent such occurrences.
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One of the most common types of misconduct in policing is corruption among members of the law enforcement agencies. The general expectation is that police officers are an honest ilk of individuals who strive hard to ensure that they uphold the rule of law while carrying out their duty. However, this is not always the case as there are reports of officers who openly accept bribes to let suspects lose or turn a blind eye to illegal activities taking place right under their noses. Prostitution rings, drug trafficking cartels and racketeering syndicates base their survival on a group of corrupt police officers who let these illegal activities take place (Prenzler, 2009). In other instances, police officers go as far as befriending mobsters who earn a living by extorting individuals conducting honest enterprises for a share of the loot. These activities have now permeated the police force with high ranking officers being directly implicated. Most of these officials are highly protected, making it increasingly difficult to prosecute them since other officer are usually not ready to testify against them before a court of law. The result is a continuation of these illegal activities and vices that are left to continue undisturbed by police officers. Such misconduct deals a blow to concerted efforts towards the War on Drugs and human trafficking. Moreover, this type of misconduct can also be carried out by police in an effort to bribe law makers and have their way. These bribes are meant to shoot down bills meant to curtail their powers or in investigating their activities at any given moment.
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Racial profiling serves as a common type of police misconduct. Law enforcement agencies in the United States have over the years been blamed for soaring cases of racial profiling. Neighborhoods predominantly filled with minority communities, such as African Americans, Latino and Hispanics, are routinely patrolled by police units for evidence of illegal activities. The results of this type of police presence are regular stop and search routines that are often the subject of much debate since they focus on minority groups. African Americans or Latino citizens in the United States are four times more likely to be stopped by police with the intention of making inquiries in comparison to their white counterparts (Reiner, 2010). Members of the police force have been accused of systematically targeting these individuals and even going as far as providing false evidence. Lying under oath and before a court of law is a criminal offence, even though some police officers who would go ahead and do the same. The result of such actions is the mass incarceration of individuals from a specific demography, which is further exacerbated by a high recidivism rate (Roberson, n.d.). In other cases, victims of police misconduct are not lucky enough to walk away from such confrontations with their lives. The brutal killing of Rodney King, Mike Brown, Alton Sterling and Tryvonn Martin are just but a few examples of the horrendous consequences that police brutality can have on individuals. All were innocent unarmed black youth gunned down and are classic cases of racial profiling as a type of police misconduct.
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Even the police misconduct menace, the Federal government has succeeded in making necessary arrangements to avoid such eventualities. One of the most common measure that has been implemented in the United States is a body and dashboard camera for each police officer and squad car. Each incident is recorded in real time and the video feed transferred to precinct headquarters for assessment. The result has been a significant reduction in the number of police misconduct cases, which is a positive step towards stamping it out completely. Events leading to a supposed fatal shootout are in investigated and videos evidence used to corroborate accusations of racial profiling. Moreover, the formation of independent oversight authorities is a strategy aimed at policing the police. One of their primary objectives is dealing with cases involving police officers accused of conducting illegal activities and abetting criminal gangs. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is at the center of such activities and has been known to investigate corruption cases involving members of the police force (Harris, 2010). By following bank account transactions and unexplained payments, suspected officers are usually put to task to explain this source of extra income. As it turns out, many are unable to provide convincing evidence which goes to prove speculations about their culpability. Moreover, police officers are required to create a case log of all calls that come in, which is vital in filing reports. These reports are then routinely assessed for any loopholes that may indicate cases of police misconduct.
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In conclusion, misconduct in policing is now a reality with a wide array of manifestations. Police officers have been found guilty of corruption, providing false evidence, paying lawmakers, racial profiling and use of excessive force. Nevertheless, the silver lining in these types of occurrences is that they have led to measures such as independent oversight and the wearing of body cameras to check police excesses. It is such steps that will ultimately lead to a society devoid of police misconduct.
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