Sunday, September 1, 2019

Police Corruption Essay

Introduction Police corruption must be taken into account as a likely social cost of the legislative creation of ‘victimless’ crimes: this is a generally accepted conclusion of extensive academic and official investigations, which has had a significant impact on discussions of gambling control policy in the USA (Morin Commission 1976: 40-2). Such willingness to discuss corruption and its effects contrasts with the official reluctance to do so and the defensive reaction which allegations of corruption provoke in the UK (Doig 1984). Corruption and allegations of corruption have occurred regularly in British police history, and gambling has often been involved. In the 1820s and 1830s, lotteries and gaming were the sources (Miller 1977: 126-48). In 1877, a betting scandal was at the heart of the first major corruption scandal to confront the reorganized ‘New Police’ (Clarkson and Richardson 1889: 261). There is little dispute that, until 1960, police-bookmaker relations of varying degrees of impropriety were normal practice and that their existence was no secret in working-class communities. According to Harry Daley, who served in the Metropolitan Police from the 1920s to the 1940s: Collection was all too easy. The bookmaker was usually down an alley or behind a pub. You approached slowly, gazing straight ahead with what you hoped looked like dignified indifference, and wiped up the half crown from the ledge on which he had placed it before getting out of the way for you to pass. Brewers’ draymen, window cleaners, painters and decorators, gossiping women, all suspended their activities for a moment or two to watch the familiar ceremony . . . I wish they could have sent the money to me in a plain envelope, as I knew they did to my Superintendent . . . ( 1986: 94-5). Stage-managed arrests were part of the arrangement, as a witness from ‘the other side’, Arthur Harding, explained: It was what they called ‘taking a turn’. In some divisions it was three times a year, to show the authorities at Scotland Yard when they made up their statistics that the police were doing their job. In every division the police had two men whose job it was to take the bookmakers in. They didn’t have to hide in a cart or anything like that, they’d come round quite polite and say, ‘Albert, stick a man up tomorrow, we’re having a raid’ (Samuel 1981: 180). 15 Corrupt police-bookmaker dealings were a matter of substantial concern during the period of this study not only for the 1923 Select Committee, but also for two Royal Commissions on aspects of policing. It will be argued that this issue had a substantial influence on policy discussions. However, it was seldom discussed frankly: for it to be an acceptable topic of public debate, it had to be presented in the restrictive frame of reference which is generally applied to corruption in British public life. This is constructed around an official rhetoric of ‘rotten apples’ and ‘black sheep’ which generates superficial explanations, minimizes the scale of the problem, and stresses that the authorities are vigilant and committed to the eradication of corruption (Doig 1984: 382-6). When publicity meant that police corruption could not be publicly ignored, the damage which it caused could be contained by dealing with it within this frame of reference. It was rarely in anyone’s interest to challenge this approach. The police and the Home Office were obviously content not to do so. Despite offers of immunity from prosecution, the bookmakers thought that no good would come from being candid about their relations with the police. Finally, it was an awkward issue for anti-gamblers to raise: while they became more forthright in later years, this remained an issue which had to be broached very carefully if anything other than official defensiveness was to be expected in response. Therefore, it would be naà ¯ve to expect an accurate picture of police corruption to emerge from the official reports and papers to which access is possible. The present intention is not to attempt to produce such a picture: rather, it is necessary to examine critically the way in which police corruption was discussed in the official hearings and reports of the period in order to found the argument that corruption was a matter of considerable concern to those involved in the reconsideration of gambling control policy, and that it was a vital, even if unarticulated, factor in the discussions of police-community relations which will be examined in Sections v and vii. Such sources are useful for this purpose so long as one is ‘prepared to work â€Å"against the grain of the material†Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ and to be ‘continuously aware of how categories and opinions are distorted by the investigative procedure’ (Harrison 1982: 308, quoting Samuel). The qualification ‘officially’ is vital here: the point which this counter-position obscures is that when police officers and others talked about harm to the ‘moral character’ of the force, a reference (which did not have to be made explicit) was being made to the threat and the effects of police corruption. Up to this point, the term ‘police corruption’ has been used loosely: before going further, it is important to note the distinction between two broad categories of police deviance. The tendency of many commentators to treat police corruption simply in terms of bribery as a financial transaction between two individuals (or groups of individuals) can imply succumbing to the official rhetoric about corruption (Shearing 1981: 4). Shearing differentiates between ‘corruption’, defined as activity producing personal, normally financial, gain for a police officer, and ‘organizational police deviance’, defined as activity ‘designed to further organizational objectives rather than to promote financial gain’ (1981: 2). Police culture has habitually distinguished between corruption in relation to serious crimes and in relation to minor ‘regulatory’ offences (Devereux 1949: 81). In the latter case, corruption is seen not as indicative of a deeper venality, but as an acceptable method of negotiating a tolerable everyday relationship with the public. The important, more general point shown here is that law enforcement is only one of several, possibly competing police objectives. As the Morin Commission pointed out, police discretion ‘is broad enough to permit the establishing of policies aimed at achieving goals other than that presumed to be intended by statute–total prohibition’ (1976: 38). These include improvement of the police’s image and public order maintenance. Indeed, the latter is more fundamental to policing than law enforcement: Crime fighting has never been, is not, and could not be the prime activity of the police . . . The core mandate of the police, historically and in terms of concrete demands placed upon the police is the more diffuse one of order maintenance (Reiner 1985: 171-2).   THE NATURE OF POLICE CORRUPTION An Example of Chicago Police Corruption Case Lazarus Averbuch lived on the near West Side, teeming with poor Russian Jews by day, but at night a saturnalia of vice and crime. Cocaine addicts with miserable blank stares shuffled in and out of Adolph Brendecke’s drugstone on Sangamon Street for their daily fix, issued discreetly under the counter for 25 cents a bag. Between Morgan and Green Streets Mike â€Å"de Pike† Heitler ran a white slave racket under the watchful eyes of Inspector Edward McCann, a bull-necked, rough-hewn policeman whose greatest joy was playing cribbage in the back room of the Des Plaines Street Station. [1]A small gold cross was affixed to the front of his vest, for McCann was a man of God who tried to instill in his nine children the Christian virtues. â€Å"I’d say I was glad to be suspended and have a chance to stay at home and play with the kids,† he said in reply to State’s Attorney John Wayman, whose unrelenting crusade uncovered the truth about McCann. For months McCann exacted tribute from the highest gambler bosses to the lowliest streetwalker. Protection money was delivered in a leather satchel in accordance with instructions given to Louis and Julius Frank, two of Hitler’s men. The price of doing business on the West Side in 1909 rose to $550 a month, a sum that the criminal panders finally refused to pay. With his money McCann purchased a stable of prized race horses. â€Å"If I had been grafting I wouldn’t have driven so many people out of business,† he said, failing to add that only the rebellious elements who refused to pay up were banished from the district. McCann was indicted by a grand jury, convicted, and sent to the Joliet Penitentiary on September 24, 1909. It was one of the hardest-fought cases in the court system up to that time. Wayman based his case on the testimony of West Side underworld figures, which raised some doubts about McCann’s guilt or innocence. After the prison doors slammed shut the friends of the inspector circulated a petition urging the governor to grant executive clemency. Thirty thousand people, including church leaders, settlement workers, businessmen, and former President Theodore Roosevelt, who had served for a time as police commissioner of New York, affixed their signatures to the document. Colonel Roosevelt cited McCann’s sterling record before he was sent to the West Side as a reason for an official pardon. Indeed, the scorecard, at least on the surface, showed more hits than misses. Since taking over as inspector of the West Side District in March 1908, McCann was credited with abolishing dozens of immoral houses, the return of 200 errant girls to their parents, curtailment of the cocaine traffic, enforcement of the 1:00 AM closing, and the regulation of concert halls and the five-cent theaters that screened lewd and suggestive movies. Social worker at Hull House lauded McCann for his efforts, and municipal judges, juvenile officers, and church officials marveled at the clean-up of the Des Plaines District. â€Å"Don’t give me all the credit for the work,† McCann protested. â€Å"It’s the men. They know I’m behind them and they do the work. I’m behind them because I know the right men are behind me. I will say this: the day of the man with the pull has passed at this station. I’m not allowing poor ignorant foreigners to be robbed by grafters who say they have a pull.† McCann, like so many other powerful police officials, was able to pick and choose his partners in the vice club. When the indictments were handed down and the inspector went off to jail, there were hundreds of city officials and church reformers who chose not to believe that such a fine man could be guilty as charged. Thus, with an eye toward saving McCann’s police pension, Governor Charles Deneen commuted the sentence just 30 days before his retirement benefits were scheduled to expire (Duis, 1978). The Republican state’s attorney had sent to prison a man of his own party, an uncommon event in those partisan days. He was roundly criticized from all quarters, while McCann was perceived to be a hero who had been railroaded by an ambitious politician. It was a disturbing setback for the reformers, who counted on the elected officials to uphold the will of the court system and punish wrong-doers. With greater power vested in the district inspectors, two predictable forms of police corruption surfaced: arrangements and events. The illicit money and gifts that McCann received over a period of months was an ongoing arrangement. The short-term, single acts of corruption, such as the one-time payoff given to 15 officers assigned to Comiskey Park on Labor Day, 1911, can be thought of as an event. Eyewitnesses charged the police with accepting $50 bribes from a gang of sidewalk bookies betting on the Gotch-Hackenschmidt wrestling match inside the ballpark. In both instances, external factors stimulated the detection and punishment since the police, either through their own inertia or because of direct influence from the chief, seemed unwilling to initiate an internal investigation. These two unrelated incidents of police malfeasance suggest that the department could not satisfactorily manage its own affairs unless the proper internal controls were in place. In direct contrast to the police, the Chicago Fire Department remained relatively free of scandal from the time the City Council took the budgetary responsibility away from the Police Commission in 1874 until 1903, when a Civil Service probe revealed some illegal hiring practices. From 1879 until his retirement in 1901, the Fire Department was run by Chief Denis Swenie, a blunt, hard-working administrator who feared no political reprisals. The firefighters were, in the words of Mayor Harrison, â€Å"Denny’s boys.† One reason Swenie was able to maintain the department on a stable, efficient basis was his ambitious plan to create a unit within the rank-and-file to guard against corruption. In 1880 the Department of Inspection was organized and Chicago profited from an honest, capable Fire Department. Not until 1960 and the reform superintendency of Orlando W. Wilson was such a mechanism put in place in the Police Department. Without these necessary controls the police of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century were essentially reactive in their response to a public outcry. THE POLICE AND ROTTEN APPLES In its investigation of police corruption in New York City in the early 1970s, the Knapp Commission 5 encountered departmental resistance to recognizing the widespread nature of corruption throughout the department, although it was especially flagrant in the gambling and narcotics units. This resistance was expressed in a departmental attitude that the Commission designated as the â€Å"rotten apple† theory of corruption (Knapp Commission, 1972: 6). This theory amounted to an unofficial department doctrine as to how corruption, when exposed, is to be handled. The theory asserts that corruption is a problem of individual misconduct and not something that should reflect on the department as a whole. A police officer involved in corruption is â€Å"a rotten apple in an otherwise clean barrel† (Knapp Commission, 1972: 6). The Commission (Knapp Commission, 1972: 6-7) further argued that the rotten apple theory served two purposes: (1) Department morale required that there be no official recognition of corruption and (2) the department’s image and effectiveness required this official denial. In 1993, the Mollen Commission, which again uncovered corruption in the New York City Police Department 20 years after the Knapp inquiry, encountered this same reluctance by police officials to view corruption in a systemic way. Instead, when corruption surfaced in spite of the â€Å"blue wall of silence,† it was largely viewed in terms of â€Å"rogue officers† and â€Å"pockets† of corruption, rather than as behavior that might be more deeply embedded in police culture. This was clearly the interpretation of events that Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly favored (James, 1993). The police view of crime and disorder in general can be characterized by this â€Å"rotten apple† theory of human nature. In this view crime is a function of evil individuals making bad choices; such choices are apparently made in relative isolation from external factors such as past experience, culture, and society. Crime, like police corruption, is personified, and the solution becomes linked to identifying the individual troublemakers–the â€Å"rotten apples.† This rotten apple view is not unique to the police world view; quite the contrary, it is widely shared in our society. When Rodney King was severely beaten by members of the Los Angeles Police Department in 1991 after he led them on an extended car chase, 6 the question again arose: Was this brutality due to the aggressive tendencies of a handful of officers, or was it more deeply ingrained in the Los Angeles Police Department? Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates apparently subscribed to the â€Å"rotten apple† view, attributing the problems to just a few officers, 300 at most, in a force that had over 8,000 members (Reinhold, 1991). An independent commission that inquired into the King incident, as well as brutality and racism in the department, reported four months later that there were a â€Å"significant number† of officers who repeatedly used excessive force. However, rather than singling out officers or even the chief for blame, the commission viewed the problem as a â€Å"management and leadership failure.† It concluded that there was â€Å"an organizational culture that emphasizes crime control over crime prevention and that isolates the police from the communities and the people they serve† (Reinhold, 1991). There was also evidence that members of this â€Å"problem group† of officers were seldom punished for using excessive force and, in fact, often received glowing evaluations for their performance. Although the Los Angeles commission, like the Knapp Commission before it, provided evidence for a more systemic view of the problem, it is the rotten apple view that typically prevails. While polls showed that most of the U.S. public (whites and blacks) believed the four Los Angeles police officers were guilty (Pope and Ross, 1992), it is not likely that they would have also viewed the King beating as a wider institutional problem of the police. At best, the misconduct of the officers might be attributed to the leadership of the police chief. In fact, Chief Gates was replaced the following year. John A. Gardiner (1977: 68) observed a similar phenomenon in his study of gambling and corruption in Wincanton, where corruption seemed to be an ongoing problem. Periodic efforts to solve the problem, however, always seemed to follow a similar policy of â€Å"throwing the rascals out.† This, of course, is another version of the rotten apple theory in which criminality is viewed as an individual trait, rather than as something that is rooted in wider social forces. The rotten apple theory is another way in which our conventional wisdom conceals or minimizes the harm of white-collar crime Even though criminality is acknowledged, whether it be corruption, police brutality, or some other wrongdoing, the solution is deceptively simple: Get rid of the â€Å"rotten apples† or the â€Å"rascals.† By emphasizing the individual misconduct in white-collar crime, this view obscures the links such behavior may have to its organizational and social context, wider cultural patterns, and ongoing institutionalized practices. Conclusion Certainly, the studies do not establish that the police are permitted to be more corrupt, but the results of this study are consistent with this argument. They hold the view that the police are fundamentally a control force and when political agreement and super-subordinate social relations are endangered, police violence increases devoid of the state overruling on behalf of those victimized. Police violence and other crimes cannot then be understood exclusively in conditions of the micro processes linked to work experiences, work-related subcultures, and the lack of avoidance. There is also a need to position these factors into a traditionally informed macro analysis since this focuses our attention on the necessary role the police play in maintaining social structure, and how in response, they are allowed to go beyond the restrictions. Reference: Clarkson C. T., and Richardson J. H. (1889), Police! (London: Field & Tuer). Daley H. (1986), This Small Cloud (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson). Devereux E. C. (1949), â€Å"‘Gambling and the Social Structure'†, Ph.D. thesis (Harvard Univ.). Doig A. (1984), Corruption and Misconduct in Contemporary British Politics (Harmondsworth: Penguin). Harrison B. (1982), Peaceable Kingdom (Oxford: Clarendon Press). James George. (1993). â€Å"Kelly Suggests Hearings’ Goal Is a Police-Monitoring Agency.† New York Times (Sept. 30). Knapp Commission. (1972). the Knapp Commission Report on Police Corruption. New York: George Braziller. Miller W. R. (1977), â€Å"‘Never on Sunday: Moralistic Reformers and the Police in London and New York City, 1830-1870†²Ã¢â‚¬ , in D. H. Bayley (ed.), Police and Society (London: Sage), 126-48. Morin Commission (1976), Gambling in America: Final Report of the Commission on the Review of the National Policy toward Gambling (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office). Perry Duis, 1978. â€Å"The World’s Greatest Fireman†, Chicago Magazine 4 (May). Pope Carl E. and Lee E. Ross. (1992). â€Å"Race, Crime and Justice: The Aftermath of Rodney King.† The Criminologist 17 (Nov.-Dec.): 1, 7-10. Reinhold Robert. (q991). â€Å"Violence and Racism Are Routine in Los Angeles Police, Study Says.† New York Times (July 10) Samuel R. (1981), East End Underworld: Chapters in the Life of Arthur Harding (London: RKP). Shearing C. D. (1981), ‘Introduction’ (Shearing 1981b: 1-8). Gardiner John A. (1977). â€Å"Wincanton: The Politics of Corruption.† In Jack Douglas and John Johnson, eds., Official Deviance, 50-69. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott. [1] Honest McCann or foxy McCann? The Tribune could not decide; See issue of August 1, 1909.

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