Chicago PD: The Glorification of Deviant Policing

Posted: March 17, 2015 by jakimitchinson in Uncategorized
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Chicago PD: Seasons 1 & 2


This weekly television show follows the Intelligence Unit of the Chicago Police Department, which deals with major crimes like drug trafficking and high-profile murders. Sgt. Hank Voight — a tough boss who doesn’t mind bending the rules a little in the pursuit of justice — heads the unit’s elite team. Sergeant Voight’s motto is “We don’t ask for permission, we ask for forgiveness”.

Sergeant Voight is a classic “Noble Causer” as defined by Punch (2009). He is committed to the ends of policing, he believes in his role as a crime stopper. He is so committed to the end means of policing, that he is willing to employ deviant methods to achieve those ends. My irritation is not about the Noble Cause tendencies of Sergeant Voight, it is of the fact that at the end of every episode he is praised for his “good work”. He is not doing good work in my opinion. He is reinforcing the notion that police are “above the law”, and need not obey policies and laws as long as they apprehend someone at the end of the day. Furthermore, Voight is the supervisor of all of the other police men and women on this show, and he encourages them to take whatever measures are necessary in order to apprehend and charge any offender. The core values of a policing agency are completely ignored by this unit: fairness, trustworthiness and professionalism are not evident in any area of this television depiction of a police organization.

Voight is constantly under investigation from Internal Affairs (IA), but always manages to avoid sanctions because of the “results” he produces.  Naturally, Voight always defends his officers when they are investigated by IA as well, calling them “good police” too many times to count throughout the season.  Voight is glorifying the term “good police” as an officer who solves cases and apprehends dangerous individuals.  What he does not address is the psychological harming intimidation tactics, as well the constant use of unnecessary physical force that these “good police” use.  There is no line nor distinction between corrupt and uncorrupt in this show, because all of the officers exhibit corrupt behaviour that is ultimately praised.

A common underlying theme conveyed through media representations of police wrongdoing center on the understanding that deviance and “bending the rules” is acceptable as long as criminals are caught and locked up. As a Criminology student, I despise this rationalization. I firmly believe in the due process model. An individual is innocent until proven guilty in the court of law, and it is not the police department’s job to take on a “judge and jury” role. I become weary of the fact that millions of individuals exposure to policing rests on weekly television shows such as Chicago PD. If this is the education that society is receiving about policing, how is the public expected to hold any police organizations accountable any of their actions besides apprehending “criminals”?

Although I recognize that fiction is not always trying to represent reality, I believe Chicago PD is attempting to recreate incidents and relationships within a police precinct. Naturally, the paperwork portion of an officer’s job would not make for thrilling television. So the realistically infrequent cases of kidnappings, million dollar drug busts, and serial killing are incorporated into every weekly episode.

Because this television show is depicted as a “typical” police organization, public perceptions about the deviant practices police as well as their abuse of authority become normalized.  This should be worrisome, as these characteristics have potential for run-off into the real world policing which is not only possible, but also admired.

References

IMBD. Chicago PD. Retrieved at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2805096/?ref_=nv_sr_2

Punch, M. (2009). What is corruption? In Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing (pp. 18-52). Portland: Willian Publishing.

The Shield: Police Corruption and What it Teaches us

The Shield, an American drama series premiering March 12, 2002, is notoriously known for its reoccurring theme of police corruption and misconduct. This is a popular series focusing on a group of detectives from the LAPD called the Strike Team, which is essentially portrayed as an anti-gang division. The Strike Team is lead by detective Vic Mackey, a crude man that promotes his unethical and deviant police problem-solving tactics which include excessive force, lying, and stealing, among others, with the intention of protecting his team, prosecuting criminals, and maintaining order on the streets. Even focusing on the first episode only, there are several examples of Vic demonstrating police deviance and misconduct that are presented and dealt with in a way that infers it is not out of the norm.

Vic is first introduced chasing a suspect alongside other officers. Once cornered, the suspect surrenders prompting a punch in the stomach from Vic for “making [him] run”, displaying clear police brutality. The next time we see him he’s lying to his department about an offender’s complaint against him of excessive force (in this case, involving a pair of pliers). His denial was followed by him stating that his team will back him up as well. Later on while looking for information, Vic runs into a well-known prostitute with who he exchanges a bag of drugs (recently confiscated from a dealer) for information. A major theme within this team, especially promoted by Vic, is that, to quote him, “Team comes first. We take care of each other” , and “We’d kill to protect each other.” This code strays away from the ideal fundamental principals that the officers of British Columbia operate, such as democracy & the rule of law, safeguarding the public trust, justice and equality (British Columbia Code of Ethics, 2011).

Vic later, as a last resort, joins the interrogation team and has a one-on-one sit down with a suspected pedophile in hopes of revealing of a little girl, Jenny Reborg. Following his statement “Good cop and bad cop left for the day. I’m a different kind of cop”, Vic struck him in the throat and begins beating him with a phone book. Vic successfully obtained his confession via his old school, and clearly illegal, interrogation tactics. Whilst watching Vic beat the suspect through the window, one of the female detectives speaks on the topic of police use of excessive force: “What people want these days is to make it to their car without getting mugged…finding out a murderer is caught…if all that means that some cop roughed up some n****r or sp*c in the ghetto, well as far as most people are concerned, it’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. How do you figure on changing that?” None of his team members observing through the one-way mirror spoke out about the incident.

The last few minutes of the episode ends with the strike team doing a raid of a suspected drug dealers house; this raid included detective Terry Rowley who was new to the department and a rookie to raid assignments. After shooting the drug dealer in the bathroom who was flushing his stash, there was no longer any perceived danger. Vic turns around and shoots his collegue Terry Crowley in the face. He was pronounced dead at 2:13pm. When confronted about the incident, Vic and his team are adamant that it was the drug dealer who shot detective Crowley in the face. It is revealed later that the detective was added to the team to “take Vic Mackey down”. The fact that none of Vic’s team members spoke out about this incident or any before it, enforces their code of “Team comes first. We take care of each other” and normalizes this behaviour. This only further encourages these kinds of actions; silence is the voice of complicity.

The police deviance and corruption typologies that Vic Mackey best exemplifies based on his actions in this first episode are those of the “meat-eaters” and the “Dirty Harrys” / “Noble Causers”, with a slight undertone of “Cowboys”. The “meat-eaters” fall under the Knapp Commission typology and they actively seek opportunities in which they can exchange their power for some kind of benefit (Punch, 2009). In Vic’s case, he displayed characteristics of a meat-eater when he exchanged drugs for information with the prostitute. “Dirty Harrys” / “Noble Causers” on the other hand, are officers that use deviant and unethical tactics in order to obtain their desired outcome (Punch, 2009). Vic proved to be a Dirty Harry when he unethically assaulted the pedophile suspect aiming for a confession. The “cowboys” are known for their high levels of aggression and propensity to act tough, lack discipline, and be action-focused (Punch, 2009), which Vic assumed the role of in the beginning of the show when he punched the suspect in the stomach for causing a chase.

This fictional portrayal of law enforcement officers focuses on their corruption and deviance, and places them in the antagonist position. This representation does not emanate positive, trust-worthy vibes to its audience. Its audience is majorly regular, non-police affiliated individuals who, after watching media portrayals such as this, do not walk away feeling a healthy and more trustworthy bond with law enforcement. Instead, because their only peak into what police conduct looks like has been through the lens of fictional media. There is a lot of negative stimuli being presented through the media pertaining to police corruption and deviance, the public sees a lot of it, and for those that have very little pre-existing knowledge or information , they may be influenced and that allows the potential for their perception towards law enforcement to change. The line between entertainment and reality becomes blurred.

Vic’s blatant displays of police deviance through abuse of authority, unethical practices, and use of excessive force illustrates model officer-deviant behaviour. These corruption-oriented, emphasized, and normalized media representations of law enforcement may have a potential impact on the audiences’ perception of positive and trustworthy qualities pertaining to police officer conduct. That potential blur between fiction and non-fiction holds the possibility of bruised perceptions and subsequent trust with the police.

IMBD.  (N.D). The Shield. Summary. Retrieved at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0286486/

NA. (2011). British Columbia Code of Ethics. Course Material. Crim 2355

Punch, M. (2009.). What is Corruption? In Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing (pp. 18-52). Portland: Willian Pub.

Roebuck, J.B. and T, Barker. (1974). A typology of Police Corruption. Social Problems 21(3): 423-437

Police Body-Mounted Cameras: Cost and Benefit Analysis

One of this decade’s most discussed and anticipated developments, police body-mounted cameras, have been gaining more support as of late, and are subsequently becoming more widely implemented as a result of several cataclysmic events themed on police deviance and misconduct; excessive use of force, police shootings, etc. Such events as the Ferguson shooting has contributed to this up-rise and near obsession with being able to watch the watchers. Obama is in full support of this modifications to law enforcement attire and has even made a pricey contribution, yet, there are still some in power who are reluctant to follow his decision despite contemporary research evidence in support of it. These new body-mounted cameras have generated controversial discussion already with public-police relationships and further impact on both the perception and acts of police deviance.

The demand for police body-mounted cameras is a demand to install a light into a long-darkened room; to satisfy the needs of the public and criminal justice system for a definitive record when it comes to police deviance and misconduct; as objective and ominous evidence. The death of Michael Brown by Ferguson police fueled the fire for protests against police misconduct and inspired subsequent demand for video documentation of police activities. Michael Brown, who was 18 years old, was shot multiple times in the head and chest by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, despite what witnesses account for as Brown holding his hands up in surrender (Cavaliere, 2014). A campaign further supporting this was launched by Michael Brown’s parents a few months ago after another cataclysmic event, a viral video of the shooting of Cleveland 12-year old Tamir Rice, created to “ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera” (Brandom, par 2, 2014).

Announced in early December of last year, federal funding was increased when the White House pledged $263 million, $75 million of which was to be specifically used in the purchase of 50,000 new cameras (which is a lot for only covering only a fraction of employed officers in America). The additional funding will be divided up between police-community trust-oriented outreach programs, and police training that enforces instruction pertaining to the use of paramilitary equipment (Brandom, 2014). This is an addition to the six-month pilot program that the Washington D.C police began on October 1st of last year, a program that is still going on and cost $1 million initially for cameras.

There are those who are in support of this new policy, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, and then there are those who oppose them, saying that these cameras have the potential to be an invasion of privacy and may hinder the public from approaching police with information (Cavaliere, 2014). Whether in support of opposition, there have been several departments who have implemented this policy, Ferguson being one of them. When Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson discussed the addition of body-mounted cameras to his team, he mentioned that the receiving officers were without reluctance in that they “are really enjoying them,” and that “they are trying to get used to using them” (Cavaliere, par 8, 2014). Of course, not everyone is in support of this legislation. In fact, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is adamantly opposed to the use of body cameras for his police officers. Walsh is quoted in an interview stating, “No. I don’t think it’s needed in Boston today. It’s a tool that people are talking about. There’s an experiment going on in Worcester right now…with body cameras. That’s something that we’ll see what shows with that experiment” (Enwemeka, par 7, 2014). Walsh further comments that he does not believe that the cameras will assist in mending the fundamental issues between the communities and the police (Enwemeka, 2014). Marty Walsh’s statements implied that he is reluctant for body cameras at this time, but that this future decision may rely on the success of the cameras in neighboring departments.  And that is essentially what these attire additions are right now; they’re experiments, trial runs. If the benefits outweigh the costs, body cameras have the potential to become mandatory.

There have been legitimate experiments conducted measuring the effectiveness of body cameras and officers as well, such as a yearlong study completed by Chief Tony Farrar of Rialto California Police Department’s patrol officers. “We randomly assigned a year’s worth of shifts into experimental and control shifts within a large randomized controlled field experiment…we investigated the extent to which cameras effect human behavior and, specifically, reduce the use of police force” (The Police Foundation, p. 2, 2013). The results of this 12 month study showed the patrol shifts not using cameras came into twice as many use of force incidents than the shifts with officers wearing the cameras. As for public complaints against officers, in the 12 month period during the study there were only three complaints filed, as opposed to the 28 complaints filed in the 12 months proceeding the study (The Police Foundation, 2013). “The findings suggest more than a 50% reduction in the total number of incidents of use of force compared to control conditions, and nearly ten times more citizens’ complaints in the 12 months prior to the experiment (The Police Foundation, p. 9, 2013). This study illustrated a significant effect on both use of force and public complaints against officers. This may be a foreshadow of the kind of results to come from wider implementation. There is some skepticism raised around the issues of privacy, as Cheryl Distaso asserts regarding the potential body camera addition to the Fort Collins Police Department. Distaso, with the Fort Collins Community Acton Network, addresses public concern stating “police officers might be able to turn them off when their behavior is questionable…[and] police officers enter people’s homes. They enter their personal space. And there is no way to opt out (CBS, par 8-11, 2013). Distaso also added, among issues of invasion of privacy, that it’s a general concern that the policy pertaining to the cameras was designed without the public’s input. This raises red flags for some citizens. Goldsmith (2010) argues that there are negative impacts upon the department and law enforcement deploying these cameras as well, as it produces a new visibility into their conduct. “Their uncontrolled visibility diminishes their power, making the surveillance of others less possible at times and exposing them to disciplinary and legal liability. Visibility of less flattering or illegal practices challenges their operation sovereignty based in anonymity and observation (Goldsmith, p. 915, 2010). He goes on to say that their have been negative consequences for police organizations due to the new communicative technologies and their social networking, and that, although these new technologies may increase the public’s perception of police accountability, it proportionally decreases their account ability (Goldsmith, 2010).

Despite the issues around skepticism about officer body camera use, there are bigger and more serous issues around police use of force and community and police trust and accountability. More serious issues that, according to Chief Tony Farrar’s study, these sorts of recording devices seem to heavily impact. As more research is conducted on more departments experimenting with this tool, we’ll have more information that will assist in whichever direction we decide to go with body mounted cameras. If there are certain areas and communities that have a real problem with use of force and with community-law enforcement relationships, based on what evidence has been concluded so far, the benefits would outweigh the costs when pertaining to whether or not police should wear body mounted cameras.

References

Brandom, R. (2014). The Verge. Obama announces funding for police body cameras. Retrieved at http://www.theverge.com/2014/12/1/7314685/after-ferguson-obama- announces- funding-for-police-body-cameras

Cavaliere, V. (2014). Reuters. After unrest over shooting, Ferguson police now wear body cameras. Retrieved at http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/01/us-usa-missouri- shooting- idUSKBN0GW13M20140901

CBS Denver. (2013). Fort Collins PD Starts Using Body-Mounted Cameras. Critics say they are an invasion of privacy. Retrieved at http://denver.cbslocal.com/2013/10/24/fort- collins- pd-starts-using-body-mounted-cameras/

Enwemeka, Z. (2014). Mayor Marty Walsh: Boston doesn’t need police body cameras. Retrieved at http://www.wbur.org/2014/12/02/boston-walsh-police- body- cameras

Goldsmith, A. (2010). Advance Access. Policing’s new visibility. Vol. 50, 914-934.

doi:1093/bjc/azq033

The Police Foundation. (2013). Self-awareness to Being Watched and Socially-desireable Behavior: a field experiment on the effect of body-worn cameras on police use-of-force. Retrieved at  http://www.policefoundation.org/sites/g/files/g798246/f/201303/ The¨¨ %20Effect%20of%20Body-Worn%20Cameras%20on%20Police%20Use- of- Force.pdf

22 Jump Street and the representation of policing

Posted: March 3, 2015 by kritichopra25 in Uncategorized

Movie Link:
http://onlinemovies.pro/22-jump-street-2014/
Fictional representation of policing that features police deviance as a major theme: 22 Jump Street


Movie industries all over the world have always had its own take on how policing takes place. However, there are many misconceptions about police officers that are portrayed in these movies. Some movies tend to portray police officers as overly masculine, always-right, gets the job done on time, helps people in the community etc. Whereas, in other movies police officers are depicted as racist, alcoholic, dumber than average, unprofessional and other negative things. Some of these characteristics are seen in the movie 22 Jump Street.
22 Jump Street is an action comedy film directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. This movie was a follow up of 21 Jump Street. The two main characters in the movie are two police officers Schmidt and Jenko who are on the streets chasing narcotics. The Deputy Chief Hardy puts the two officers into an assignment where they go undercover as college students and locate the supplier of a drug known as “WHYPHY” (Work Hard Yes Play Hard Yes) that killed a student photographer buying it on campus. As the movie goes on these two police officers break almost every rule of policing to get the job done. Just like the Dirty Harry movies. The police officers demonstrated many forms of corrupt policing throughout the movie. Living a double life in a new environment presented many problems.
The depiction of police in “22 Jump Street” is not necessarily realistic in any way, shape or form. This gives a very wrong public perception of law enforcement officers. The two cops Schmidt and Jenko are portrayed as these cops that hold a below average common sense and are lazy. In addition, they are also depicted as cops that tend to be “fools” of the situations they find themselves in.
The movie starts with a recap of what happens in “21 Jump Street”. One of the clips used in the recap is of the two cops on bicycles strolling through the park and playing with their firearms, displaying the lack of duties and responsibilities they need to fulfill.
The movie quickly then shifts gears and the two officers (Jenko & Schmidt) are sent to college to solve the given case. For this assignment the department gives the officers an extremely large budget. This includes extensive amounts/variety of firearms, money and other facilities that they do not require to solve the case. Usually, this type of representation makes the public think that their local police department
As the officers get into their assignment, Jenko starts making friends with a pair of jocks named Zook and Rooster. He starts attending parties with the jocks to help him solve the case. However, partying with the college students starts to push Jenko away from his real purpose of being there. Meanwhile, Schmidt starts to talk to an art student, Maya, as he was trying to figure out about the killed student. Later on in the movie, Schmidt and Maya have sexual intercourse with each other. In addition, when Schmidt shares this news with others in the department they give him a pat on the back as it was seen as a great accomplishment for him. This went to show how it was normal for police officers to sleep and party with people without any consequences and it was an accepted norm.
Overtime when the officers fail to find the dealer or any leads per say, they turn to an “expert” for help. The “expert” being an inmate in the jail (that they caught in the last movie). The inmate tells the two to look more closely as he notices a unique tattoo on the arm of the dealer in the photograph. He insists that if they find the tattoo, they will have found their man. The clip shows how the police officers were unable to do their job and had to turn to an ex-criminal for assistant to solve the case. In addition, the way that the inmate speaks to the officer shows that there is no need for people/inmates to talk to people in the position of authority with respect.

They figure out that the person with the tattoo in the picture is just one of the jocks that buys the drugs rather than selling them. But, soon after they find the suspect on the college campus but are unable to catch him.
Closer to the end of the movie, Jenko discloses to Schmidt that he’s been offered a football scholarship and is unsure whether he wants to continue to be a police officer. Jenko was clearly unhappy with his job and the scholarship seemed as a great idea to him. He failed to realize the fact that he was still an undercover police officer and this was a fake life that he was living.
Near the climax, spring break arrives and Schmidt prepares to go after secret suspect alone. Nevertheless, Jenko asks to help so that the two can have one final mission together, and the pair head to the beach where suspect is likely to be dealing WHYPHY. They end up catching him and the movie ends with the two officers solving the case together.
If “22 Jump Street” was compared to a real life police department it would match up in almost no way or form. It fails to follow any of the general core values of policing such as honesty, professionalism, compassion, respect and accountability. However, we have to keep in mind that this movie is made solely for entertainment purposes. And what the public likes to see is things that are far from the normal. Such as, police officers playing with dangerous weapons like they are toys, officers sleeping with people, accidentally trying drugs themselves and so on. In conclusion, movies like this are made for entertainment purposes only and consumers of this type of entertainment should in no way or form take the main themes or messages conveyed by the media as the real forms of policing.

Sons of Anarchy is the story of a motorcycle club involved in gun-running and other deals with rival gangs, and the authorities. The story revolves around the Vice-President and future president of the club, Jackson “Jax” Teller and his dealings. They run several businesses, which may include illegal and legal works. Along with gun-running, they also operate a garage under their name. There are a couple different aspects to the show, one of them is related to the family life of Jackson. In this aspect, a lot of emphasis is put on Jackson, his wife and his kids. It is a constant battle between spending time with them and running errands for the club. For each of the members, their families get put on the back burner as they consider their work at the club a huge priority. The second aspect of the show would be club business. Their business mostly involves the exportation of guns at a large scale. It also focuses on their rivalries with other gangs in the area, politicians and authorities. The final and third aspect of the show is the role of the authorities. The officers in this show are shown as very corrupt and deceiving. Throughout the series, either they could go against the law and cooperate with SAMCRO, or they could fight against them and create havoc in the whole community. They were always torn between laws and peace.

They lived in a town named Charming, which was a contradiction to the realities of that town. There usually was a lot of bloodshed on and off due to the rival gangs retaliating to SAMCRO’s every step. The club consisted of several members along with a support system of some of their family members and friends. There is a President and Vice- President, all decisions must go through them, however, every decision must also get the opinion of every single member of the club. In order for them to be successful in their business, they always needed backup from their police department. The Chief of the Police, Wayne Unser, was a corrupted chief due to his dealings with the club. He would pass on highly sensitive information based on his own knowledge. This kept their business deal afloat. Unser understood that the deal with the club would keep outside violence and drugs out of Charming. In several instances, even the constables and jail guards would conspire with the club for the greater good. The constables were always in a turmoil, they were stuck between legal work and peace. It was a known fact that SAMCRO was a dangerous group of bikers who would go to any lengths if they felt threatened by anyone. Considering this at all times, some of the members of the Charming Police Department would make a deal with the club to avoid havoc. They could go against the club, however, they knew that would only result in more bloodshed.

After Unser’s retirement, we were introduced to another police officer named David Hale. His ultimate goal was to drive out SAMCRO from Charming. However, just like every other police officer in the show, Hale noticed that a deal with the club members would eventually be of some help to the department. He also began to work with some of the members in the club because he knew some of the rivals would destroy their town.

On of the officers, Eli Roosevelt, was known for his incorruptible reputation. He was given the responsibility to observe the club and stop the gun-trade. Initially, he implanted several rules that would create restrictions for the club members when they were out and about. By the end of one of the seasons, he had formed a special bond with one of the members named Juice. Occasionally he would seal a deal with Jax Teller and work towards a common goal, however, he was known for his honesty and he maintained it.

The last police officer that we saw on the show was Althea Jarry. Just like the rest of them she came off as a cop who was ready to take down the club. It all started with hatred towards the club and eventually understanding the reason for their cooperation. Jarry became romantically involved with one of the club members, Chibs. She tried to force information out of him as an honesty agreement in their relationship, but Chibs would never give up his club.

Furthermore, the way the media and shows present police officers is highly dependent on what the audience is expecting. It is always more entertaining for the audience when there is more drama, therefore, portraying police officers as negative may fulfill that demand. We know for a fact that a show which portrays the actual duties of a police officer would never succeed. People are not interested in the paper work and daily reports that they have to allocate their time on. This gives us a general perception of what is expected of television shows these days. Furthermore, any major wrongdoing committed by an officer is highlighted in every newspaper, yet they fail to broadcast the positive and commendable actions. Moreover, there is a major gap between what we see and what actually happens. Television shows are not broadcasted as realistic depictions of the manner with which they function. It is usually an exaggeration to grasp the attention of their audience. In this show, Sons of Anarchy, similar to every other show the actions of police department are shown way out of proportion. Chasing criminals at fast speeds, shooting at every chance they find, and solving all of the crimes does not represent reality. Police officers have to take action based on reasonable grounds and not suspicious, moreover, they also have to be aware of all the bystanders who could possibly be injured in the action.

At one stage in life, when we cannot tell the right from wrong, what we see on television is the truth for us. Things we may see on TV may jeopardize our thinking as we grow older. However, It would also be false to state that all the facts observed in shows are wrong. That is not the case. If were to look at how the Head of Police and the others acted out during a shooting or other chaos, we may see some similarities between fiction and reality. In the show, we saw that some of the members of the club were involved with certain police officers which they would use both ways. They both fed off the knowledge they had, to attain one goal, peace in their communities.

In 2013, Montreal Police Force’s leading expert on biker gangs, Benoit Roberge, was arrested due to allegations of him conspiring with one of the gang members he was observing. He was accused of sharing sensitive information about a police investigation regarding that gang. He had just recently been assigned to a specialized unit, which was formed using different police forces that focused on biker gang activities (Canadian Press, 2013). Another case such as this was revealed in Chicago, where a former veteran police officer was arrested for making a deal with a local gang to rob their rivals of their treasures. (Meisner, 2013)

As for the themes and messages that are received from these shows include the emphasis on police wrongdoing. All cases of wrongdoing are highlighted and broadcasted in every show to attract attention. An individual who took an oath to protect and serve the community doing the opposite grasps the attention of many. Concepts that we see in these are not necessarily reality, yet, they are not all false either. We see a mixture of reality and fiction and we get to decide how we wish to interpret it.

Bibliography

Biker gang expert accused of conspiring with the criminals he was watc. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2015, from               http://www.advocatedaily.com/2013/10/biker-gang-expert-accused-of-conspiring-with-the-criminals-he-was-   watching/

Former Chicago cop gets 12 years for working with gang. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2015, from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-05-23/news/chi-former-chicago-cop-gets-12-years-for-working-with-gang-20130523_1_12-years-former-chicago-cop-latin-kings

Nat. (n.d.). Police and Criminal Portrayals Through the Media: Portrayal of police in television dramas. Retrieved from http://natalicrim2027.blogspot.ca/2010/10/portrayal-of-police-in-television.html

Wayne Unser. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2015, from http://sonsofanarchy.wikia.com/wiki/Wayne_Unser

POLICE DEVIANCE AND CORRUPTION

Posted: March 2, 2015 by cclal5 in Uncategorized

     Police corruption and deviance have been used interchangeably to refer to violations, but are however different. Deviance is activities that are deemed to be unethical, whereas corruption involves self-interest before solving a problem. Going over this post, you will get a clear understanding of what some typologies of police deviance and corruption are, insight on the Rampart scandal, along with movies and television shows that portray what the realities and non-realities of what police work really is.

police corruption

     One kind of typology is Maurice Punch’s fieldwork, where it is an attempt to understand the diverse notifications of officers involved in deviance and corruption. Maurice Punch’s classification of officer types are narrowed down to the uniform carrier, mister average, professionals, dirty harrys, innovators, crusaders, ideological combatants, lone wolfs and the cowboys.

     Another kind of typology is Roebuck and Barker’s classification of activities were they note that “corruption is motivated by the pursuit of gain” (Roebuck & Barker, 1974). They categorized the most common categories of police corruption representations as:

Corruption of authority: just because one is a police officer, they are on the end of getting perks or gains of certain types

Shakedowns: gain for not following through with an arrest or investigation

Protection of illegal activities: protecting those involved in criminal activities by turning a blind eye

The fix: tampering with evidence

Direct criminal activities: getting commission of criminal offences for gain

Internal pay-offs: paying supervisors or bosses for favorable treatment

Flaking and padding: planting evidence on someone to set them up

Opportunistic theft: stealing from people who are being arrested

     One more typology is the Knapp Commission which is widely known for having three distinct categories to specifically describe the different grades of police officer corruption. There are police officers who are breaking the law themselves for personal or department gain and are posed as unethical. These police officers would allow people to break the law and giving protection of the illegal actions as long as these officers gained something from it instead of enforcing the law which is their job.

The three categories are the grass eaters, meat eaters and the birds. The grass eaters were known as the people who would “passively [accept] kickbacks and other unearned perks” (Punch, 2009) and officers who refused the ‘grass’ or easy money were seen as suspect or deviant. The meat eaters were the proactive carnivores where they were in search of graft by finding out “opportunities to exchange police authority for some form of benefits” (Punch, 2009). Lastly, the birds are the ones who “avoided deviant practises and kept clean” (Punch, 2009) where they generally do not intervene, since they are honest. This classic typology is based on the officer testimony that was heard before the Knapp Commission which investigated the corruption within the New York Police Department (NYPD).

     In the Rampart scandal, the main character is a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) police officer of ten years who goes by the name of Raphael Perez. He was known as a whistler-blower, since he was the one who “exposed the division’s abuses” (Reese, 2002). In 1999, since Raphael Perez pled guilty into taking cocaine from the evidence lockers, he bargained for a reduced sentence and in return he agreed to the LAPD and the District Attorney about all the “bad deeds which he and other officers were involved in” (Reese, 2002) from beginning in 1995. After the testimony, it was found out that “innocent people had been charged with crimes [that] they had not committed and were sentenced to prison terms” (Reese, 2002) which led to the charges of many officers.

According to Reese (2010), at least thirty LAPD officers, including four sergeants have been relieved of duty, suspended, fired or have quit in the connection with the department’s probe, sixty-seven convictions have been overturned and seventy officers are under investigation for committing crimes, for misconduct, or for covering up such activities. The Rampart scandal is the real life version of the movies called Serpico and L.A. Confidential where the main motive of corruption was driven by money, racism and power. Since moral and ethical leadership is weak and minorities are victimized, this created an ‘us versus them’ mentality.

rampart

      In Frank Serpico and L.A. Confidential, both films tell the upfront tales of the life of a police officer in a major city. Although these movies are about twenty-five years apart, their circumstantial background is similar, since it tells the tales about “two whistle-blowers, Frank Serpico and Officer Exley and their motivations for doing the right thing” (Reese, 2002). Frank Serpico, is a “conscientious police officer who is consistently pressured by his organizational culture to participate in various illicit activities” (Reese, 2002) whereas Officer Exley is “driven by selfish ambitions” (Reese, 2002).

     The Frank Serpico movie is about a New York police officer, Frank Serpico, who “initiates a courageous crusade to expose the systematic corruption in the NYPD” (Reese, 2002). It clearly shows that the NYPD culture is “colored with machismo, racism and corruption” (Reese, 2002).

His main frustrations stem from the “formal mission and informal culture of the police department” (Reese, 2002), since he treats the formal mission of the organization with “acute seriousness, while others abide by the more encompassing informal culture” (Reese, 2002). Frank Serpico has never shopped or took any small bribes from anyone because in doing so that would demoralize him and so he remained psychologically and socially distant from his peers. His loyalty stayed true to his early sense of what a police officer should be, to the formal regulations of his police department and has a genuine concern for the greater good of the public.

Frank Serpico’s motive was to “change the organizational culture of his police department” (Reese, 2002), but he was fighting a losing battle because the organizational culture appeared to be “too immutable to change, too arrogant to listen and too impersonal to care” (Reese, 2002). At the end, Frank Serpico becomes disappointed and disillusioned after being seemingly set up and was shot during a drug raid, he then retired on a disability pension and left the country.

frank

     In the L.A. Confidential movie, it is about police corruption where the main character is Officer Exley. He “pushes away bribes, intolerant of police brutality, and he acts within the formal rules of the organization” (Reese, 2002). Officer Exley is the most “straitlaced, and most untrustworthy member of the department” (Reese, 2002), has no allies and is very comfortable with that.

During a situation, several LAPD officers initiated violence on inmates and Officer Exley fiercely protested this police brutality. In doing so, he was taken away and was “locked in a cell by two fellow officers” (Reese, 2002) and an investigation ensued. Officer Exley was the type who had no problem with “’ratting’ on his co-workers, giving up names” (Reese, 2002) and in doing so, he was immediately promoted.

     The blue wall of silence has been embedded into the police sub-culture and has been integrated into the police organization. Even if an officer is being questioned, he or she would claim ignorance of another officer’s wrongdoing which signifies police misconduct and corruption. These officers do it for obvious personal or department gain or to also protect and support fellow officers. Even the most honest police officers have the difficulty in reporting misconduct due to the threats of fellow co-workers of being called the snitch, rat or simply not having their backs. Some problems of the blue wall of silence comes from solidarity, alienation, insularity and secrecy. They almost always have to be suspicious of everyone’s moves, maintain an ‘us versus them’ mentality which therefore makes officers have a strong brotherhood or sisterhood for their own good.

shhh

    Dishonesty can happen at any time whether it is at the individual (rotten apples), group (rotten barrel) or organizational (rotten orchids) levels which constitutes a form of police deviance, since it is a form of overt lying. Lou Rieter, a consultant of the Chicago Police Department and former Deputy Chief of Police in Los Angeles testified that the “influence of the Code of Silence is a conscious choice various Chicago Police managers and executive officers have taken” (Hagedorn, Kmiecik, Simpson, Gradel, Zmuda, & Sterrett, 2013), since police officers do not fear being investigated by the Internal Affairs Department.

     One case study that underlines police corruption is the cases of the Marquette 10 where the police were involved in drugs, guns and gangs. The United States (U.S.) Attorney, Dan Webb’s 1982 investigation of drug dealers in Chicago’s Westside was what led to the arrest of the “ten Marquette District officers that [accepted] bribes from drug dealers” (Hagedorn, et al, 2013). The ten officers were convicted for “protecting two large drug [dealing] networks” (Hagedorn, et al, 2013) by warning dealers of police raids along with beating up rival or competing dealers and in return, these officers got “money and goods for more than three years” (Hagedorn, et al, 2013). The ten officers who were in involved with this type of corruption received prison sentences ranging from ten to twenty years.

     Louise Westmarland in “Police Ethics and Integrity: Breaking the Blue Code of Silence” (2005), analyzes “evidence from a survey of police officers who were asked about their attitudes” (Westmarland, 2005) on police corruption, unethical behavior, and minor infringements of police rules. This survey revealed that the officers who took part in this study suggest that actions involving “acquisition of goods or money” (Westmarland, 2005) are much worse than “illegal brutality or bending of the rules” (Westmarland, 2005) in order to protect colleagues from criminal proceedings. It also revealed that officers are unwilling to report “unethical behaviour by colleagues unless there is some sort of acquisitive motive” (Westmarland, 2005). These findings of the survey support the ‘blue code’ or ‘Dirty Harry’ belief systems that surround police rule bending.

     I feel like the television shows like COPS and law and order signifies the non realities of what police officers do on their job in the real world. These shows give false impressions of what really happens when police encounter suspects and doing things that actual police officers really cannot do. It gives a ‘reality’ where the police are always competent, crime-solving heroes, and where the ‘bad boys’ always get caught hence the introductory “theme song ‘bad boy’” (Valverde, 2006, pg. 317) by Inner Circle. The theme song itself is “extremely catchy, [and] contributes to create an overall effect that one might describe as ‘infotainment’” (Valverde, 2006, pg. 317) which suggests to viewers that this show is in the world of fun and entertainment when it really is dangerous.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm6xexu_wJY

To watch one episode of COPS, you can tell it is “not a serious documentary about police work, but a combination of amateur video footage of policing work and anything that might contribute to the entertainment of the audience” (Valverde, 2006, pg. 317) since it contains unrelated material for curiosity and entertainment purposes rather than conveying messages about criminal justice. It also creates an atmosphere of suspicion that desensitizes and conditions the audiences to view harsher punishments and police misconduct such as police brutality and unconstitutional searches are acceptable when in reality they are not.

With all these factors taken into consideration, it marks for a show that does not highlight what an actual police officer on the force would go through which gives that false hope of the work police officers do. By watching this show, the audience are “imported into the world of policing, where they can watch ‘real’ officers in action, ‘experience’ the thrill of the chase and arrest and gain some sense of what it is ‘actually like’ to be a police officer” (Valverde, 2006, pg. 311)

cops

     The drama show Law and Order, is based on the “good cop’s struggle against a corrupt of malfunctioning system” (Valverde, 2006, pg. 312) where the judge and prosecutors main focus is to delay or frustrate the progress of justice. In the police’s point of view, the suspects are almost always automatically labelled as criminals, since the system is only represented from “one point of view and from the police point of view, prosecutors, and judges undermine the work that has been done to apprehend the suspect” (Valverde, 2006, pg. 312).

In the first half of the show, the cops are the main characters and once the suspect is apprehended, the “prosecutors then become the protagonists of the second half” (Valverde, 2006, pg. 312) of the show. During the second half of the show, it follows a more of a “legalistic story of how prosecutors evaluate the evidence gathered by the cops” (Valverde, 2006, pg. 313) to decide whether or not to lay a charge and what kind if it goes through.

law and order

     To conclude, I hope that you got a clear understanding to what police corruption and deviance is through the help of some typologies, insight on the Rampart scandal, along with movies and television shows that portray what the reality and non-realities of what police work is.

REFERENCES

Hagedorn, J., Kmiecik, B., Simpson, D., Gradel, T., Zmuda, M., & Sterrett, D. (2013). Crime, Corruption and Cover-ups in the Chicago Police Department. Political Science. 7, pp.1-54. Chicago: University of Illinois.

Punch, M. (2009). What is Corruption? In Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing (pp. 18–52). Portland: Willan Pub.

Reese, R. (2002). Whistle-blowing into a tangled web: the case of serpico, L.A. confidential, and the LAPD’s rampart division. Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 9(2), pp.105-11. California State Polytechnic University at Pomona. Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://www.albany.edu/scj/jcjpc/vol9is2/reese.html

Roebuck, J.B. and Barker, T. (1974). A Typology of Police Corruption.

Valverde, M. (2006). From the hard-boiled detective to the pre-crime unit. In Greer, C. (Ed), Crime and media: a reader. 2010. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Group

Westmarland, L. (2005). Police ethics and integrity: breaking the blue code of silence. Policing & Society, 15(2), pp.145-165

Chicago PD is a very famous show that has made its way to the top by showing a different side to policing the “dirty side”. The show is an action packed with suspense and emotions. From murders to sexual assaults it has everything. “Chicago P.D.” is a riveting police drama about the men and women of the Chicago Police Department’s elite Intelligence Unit, combating the city’s most heinous offenses – organized crime, drug trafficking, high-profile murders and beyond.(NBC) It may show that policing can be seen as a glamor job. But it doesn’t show that hardship police officers go through in their every day life. The effects of working 12 hours shifts, or the effects stress can take upon someone with a family. Constantly thinking of your family and work, and how the job may take over a police officer life and ruin his/her relationship with there family.

Under the Knapp Commission Typology, Sergeant Voight falls under the category of a meat eater:

‘Proactive carnivores’ in search of graft. Meat-Eaters sought out opportunities to exchange police authority for some form of benefit. “The meat-eaters are different. They’re out looking. They’re on a pad with gamblers, they deal in junk, or they’d compromise a homicide investigate for money”. Punch, M. (2009). This type of typology shows the viewers that police will do anything for there own mere ego. Also how a person can stray away from his values and responsibilities by making the wrong decisions.

Under Punch’s Classification of Officer Types Sergeant Hank Voight would fall under the “Dirty Harrys / Noble Causers:” Named after the classic Clint Eastwood character, these officers are committed to the ends of policing, but willing to employ unorthodox and deviant methods to ‘get results’ Punch, M. (2009). Voight and his team use techniques that are not very friendly to get results. They do what every is necessary to reach there end goal, which is to put criminal behind bars and make the streets of Chicago safer.

We are bombarded with crime all over social media. From newspapers, to novels, television, and the Internet all these sources of information involve crime and justice issues. The perception that television shows instill in society just further highlights the importance of studying crime, justice, and the media. It further elaborates on the forced marriage between media and criminal justice. This has an effect on the criminal justice policy as policies are named for individuals. They usually are for victims. An example would be Megan’s Law and Amber Alerts or the Three Strikes and You’re Out legislation. Secondary reasons for studying the media are related to copycat crimes, and then coverage of crime in the media. However, the most significant issue how we spend our taxes and who and what we criminalize. The exposure to media the public is exposed to is enormous and the information we receive is seen as ‘more entertaining and enjoyable’. This in turn corrodes our perception of reality as the media exploits this. In addition, the looping media content is important because events and information are recycled in the media and into culture and courtroom events. People no longer can distinguish between what events are real and what events are fictional. Yet people still turn to the media to reduce violence and drug use and give the criminal justice system a boost. Also, the image that police officers portray has a profound effect on what society thinks of police officers. All the negative aspects of policing; shift work, stress, and sometimes even PTSD is ignored. The car chases, bribes, and shootouts are portrayed.

Recourses:

Punch, M. (2009). What is Corruption? In Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing (pp. 18–52).

Chicago PD. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2015, from http://www.nbc.com/chicago-pd/about