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Police Behavior Problems and Solutions. How do we evaluate police behavior?. Police are in a unique position in democratic societies. They are given a great deal of power and can engage in actions disruptive of personal freedom Power to detain Power to search Power to arrest

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how do we evaluate police behavior
How do we evaluate police behavior?
  • Police are in a unique position in democratic societies. They are given a great deal of power and can engage in actions disruptive of personal freedom
    • Power to detain
    • Power to search
    • Power to arrest
    • Power to use force, including deadly force
  • Yet we need police to maintain order and security so a free society is possible.
  • But do both police and citizens understand their duties? Who establishes limits on police use of authority and who enforces those limits? WHO, IN OTHER WORDS, POLICES THE POLICE?
Before we decide how to control police behavior, we have to decide what we expect from them.
  • Defining the proper role for police is for citizens and their elected officials not for the police themselves.

(Recall our early discussion of legal culture.)

evaluating police
Evaluating Police
  • General Standards (E3R)
    • Equal treatment
    • Equitable treatment
    • Efficiency (assuming Effectiveness)
    • Responsiveness
  • Specific Standards (What do we expect from police in their encounters with…)
    • Citizens
    • Victims
    • Witnesses
    • Suspects
law enforcement code of ethics
Law Enforcement Code of Ethics
  • As a Law Enforcement Officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all persons to liberty, equality and justice.
  • I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my department. Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or that is confided to me in my official capacity will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.
I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminal, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.
  • I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of the police service. I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen profession...law enforcement.
yes me the lousy cop
"Yes Me, the Lousy Cop" 
  • From birth you teach your children that I am the bogeyman, and then you're shocked when they identify me with my traditional enemy, the criminal. You accuse me of coddling juveniles, until I catch your kid doing something. You may take an hour for lunch, and have several coffee breaks each day, but point me out as a loafer if you see me having just one cup.
  • You pride yourself on your polished manners, but think nothing of interrupting my meals at noon with your troubles. You raise hell about the guy who cuts you off in traffic, but let me catch you doing the same thing and I'm picking on you. You know all the traffic laws, but never got a single ticket you deserved. You shout "foul" if you observe me driving fast en route to an emergency call, but literally raise hell if I take more than ten seconds responding to your call!!!
You call it "part of the job" if someone strikes me, but it's "police brutality" if I strike back. You wouldn't think of telling your dentist how to pull a badly decayed tooth, or your doctor how to take out your appendix, but you are always willing to give me a few pointers on law enforcement. You talk to me in a manner and use language that would assure a bloody nose from anyone else, but you expect me to stand and take it without batting an eye.
  • You cry, "Something has to be done about all the crime!" but you can't be bothered with getting involved.
  • You've got no use for me at all, but, of course, it's OK if I change a tire for your wife, or deliver your baby in the back seat of my patrol car on the way to the hospital, or save your son's life with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, or work many hours over-time to find your lost daughter.
  • So Mr. Citizen, you stand there on your soapbox and rant and rave about the way I do my job, calling me every name in the book, but never stop a minute to think that your property, your family, or maybe your life might depend on one thing, ME, THE LOUSY COP"
how do we control the police
How do we “control” the police?
  • Citizens
    • By requesting police presence actions
    • By Complaint
    • By Friendship
  • Police Department
    • Hiring/Training Standards
    • Policies and Procedures
    • Supervision and Command Structure
    • Peer Group Pressure
  • External Controls
    • Laws
    • Court System Feedback
    • Political System Feedback
    • Legal Culture
written policy directives
Written Policy Directives

(Police Agencies with more than 100 Sworn Officers)

Local Sheriff State

Police Depts. Police

Code of Conduct/Appearance 99% 95% 100%

Use of Deadly Force 99% 96% 100%

Pursuit Driving 99% 90% 98%

Strip Searches 81 % 88% 37%

Juveniles 95% 86% 74%

Domestic Disturbances 93% 77% 49%

Mentally Ill/Handicapped Persons 86% 81 % 53%

Homeless Persons 30% 19% 6%

Off-Duty Employment 95% 96% 100%

Citizen Complaints 95% 84% 92%

an example of dept guidelines hot pursuit policies
An Example of Dept Guidelines:Hot Pursuit Policies

Consider the following factors

  • Vehicle condition & road conditions
  • Seriousness of the violation
  • At no time will officers pursue the wrong way down a freeway or frontage road
  • Police shall not discharge their firearms at a fleeing vehicle.
  • Actions requiring supervisory authorization:
    • Driving along the side of the fleeing vehicle in an attempt to force it from the road.
    • Roadblocks
role of the courts miranda v arizona
Role of the Courts: Miranda v. Arizona
  • Do criminals go free because we mirandize them?
    • Many (40-50%) confess voluntarily.
    • Many others don’t understand the Mirandawarning (a function of lack of education, poverty and socialization).
    • Some police are more casual and don’t see it as critical
    • Court challenges to the need continue to this day.
  • The Impact: Few confessions are “coerced”, few are overturned, and police clearance and prosecutorial conviction rates are little changed.
  • Virtually every police department in the nation has experienced both organized corruption and major scandals as a result of that corruption.
  • Corruption is not confined to big cities.
  • One advantage of our fragmented police industry is that it provides citizens with alternatives.
a simple typology of corruption grazers versus meat eaters
A Simple Typology of Corruption:Grazers versus Meat-Eaters

“Grass Eaters”

  • Accept payoffs that come their way
  • Minor favoritism
  • The “mooch” – free lunch

“Meat Eaters”

  • Aggressively misuse authority for personal gain
  • Bribery / extortion / shakedowns
the 1 st major nypd scandal
The 1st Major NYPD Scandal
  • Hearings held by the Lexon Committee of the NY Senate 1894
  • Instigated by Rev. Charles Parkhurst who paraded gamblers, prostitutes, madames and police officers in front of the committee.
  • The (bad) publicity lead to the election of a reform mayor in NYC and the appointment of a new police chief to clean up the department.
  • This new chief, Theodore Roosevelt, would use this position to go on to be elected Governor of NY in 1898 and would become the President of the US in 1901 with the assassination of President William McKinley. Did he actually fix the NYPD? Probably not, given the long history of problems that followed.
new york city a 20 year cycle of corruption
New York CityA 20 Year Cycle of Corruption
  • 1894 Lexon Commission
  • 1911 Curran Commission
  • 1932 Seabury Report
  • 1951 Harry Gross (Gambling Czar) Investigation
  • 1971 Knapp Commission
  • 1992 The Mollen Commission
  • 1995 Commission to Combat Police Corruption (CCPC), a permanent board to monitor and evaluate anticorruption efforts
frank serpico
Frank Serpico
  • Perhaps the most famous of the investigations into the NYPD was stimulated by the revelations of NYPD Officer Frank Serpico.
1966 - Serpico is asked to join a “gambling pad”.
  • He refuses and tells his captain. His captain replies “Frank, you could end up in the East River for such accusations.”
  • Serpico complained to
    • His District Commander
    • The 1st Deputy Police Commissioner
    • The Mayor’s Assistant on Police
    • The Commissioner of Investigations
  • The District Commander finally begins an investigation in late 1967.
  • With little movement internally, Serpico goes to the NY Times in April 1970.
frank serpico19
Frank Serpico

Politics and Corruption

  • In response to the Times stories, NYC Mayor John Lindsey appoints a committee to investigate but the committee is compromised by the fact its members include the Police Commissioner and the Manhattan DA who were supposed to be in charge of the day-to-day oversight of the department corruption .
  • A second independent committee is appointed: “The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Police Corruption and the City’s Anti-Corruption Procedures” (Whitman Knapp, Chair)
  • The Police Commissioner resigns before the investigation begins.
  • The Commission documents extensive problems ranging from minor payoff’s to $80,000.
other cities same problems
Other Cities, Same Problems
  • LAPD (Need I say more?)
  • Philadelphia 1990 – Grand jury investigates 100,000 arrests from the previous decade involve police use of drugs and paraphernalia to pay informants, setup suspects, bribe witnesses and buy sexual favors.
  • Cleveland 1991 – 30 police officers indicted for extortion, obstruction of justice, narcotics and gambling.
other cities same problems21
Other Cities, Same Problems
  • Detroit 1991 – The Police Chief is found guilty of embezzling $2.6 million from a special fund for undercover investigations.
  • New Orleans 1994 – 10 officers indicted for selling drugs and guns
  • Greenport (NY) 1994 – The entire police department (9 officers) is disbanded due to corruption, ineptitude and widespread drug and alcohol use by on-duty officers.
  • Jersey City 1995 – Officers are charged with selling themselves 113 impounded cars at discount prices.
  • San Francisco 1996 – Officers indicted on charges of perjury, soliciting perjury wrongful arrests and stealing from suspects.
the police subculture will they fink on their fellow officers
The Police Subculture:Will They “Fink” On Their Fellow Officers?

Q: How often do the other officers in your department engage in the following activities?

Always or Rarely or

Sometimes Never

Sleep on Duty? 63% 37%

Drink on Duty? 89% 11%

Perjury/Lying? 47% 53%

Excessive Force? 54% 46%

Sex on Duty? 45% 55%

systematic approaches to policing the police
Systematic Approaches to Policing the Police

Internal Affairs

  • They don’t exist in all departments
  • Questionable effectiveness (Contrary to TV image)
    • The don’t want to investigate their own
    • They perceive a lack of support from the police command
    • There are problems of citizen access to report problems
internal affairs
Internal Affairs
  • Houston PD
  • Formed in 1977 after the Jose Campos Torres incident.
  • Captain, 4 Lieutenants, 18 investigating officers drawn from the ranks for 1 year “tours”
  • Caseload of 75-100 per officer.
  • Report violations to COP
internal affairs reported violations houston police department 1978 1984
Internal Affairs - Reported Violations Houston Police Department, 1978-1984


Department Rules 129 217 68.2%

Neglect of Duty 217 351 61.8%

Excessive Force 544 545 0.2%

Potentially 388 657 69.3%

Criminal Acts

Conduct/Behavior 371 707 90.6%

TOTALS 1,865 2,888 54.9%

investigating police shooting incidents houston police department lad 1983
Investigating Police Shooting IncidentsHouston Police Department lAD - 1983

What happened to the Citizen?

DeathlnjurvNo Injury

lAD Ruling

Justified 88% 67% 64%


Not Justified 6% 10% 8%


Accidental 6% 23% 28%


problems with the houston iad
Problems with the Houston IAD
  • Investigations take too long.
  • Use of “pro-officer” neutral witnesses to clear accused officers.
  • Criminal records checks of those who register complaints
  • Bad record keeping
    • 3 x 5 index cards
    • 1,000 accusations lost
    • Inability to track “bad apples” (117 officers, 3% of the HPD force received 20% of all complaints.
    • After severe punishment (dismissal) no one speaks to future employers
the denver model a police monitor
The Denver Model –A Police Monitor
  • A response to the Paul Childs shooting
  • Independent of the Police Department
systematic approaches to policing the police29
Systematic Approaches to Policing the Police
  • Internal Affairs
  • Federal (DOJ) Oversight
  • Civilian Review Boards
  • Police Monitor (Denver)