Food for Thought: Why Study Police Deviance and Accountability?

Posted: January 17, 2013 by ssd89 in Uncategorized

I am interesting in learning about police deviance and accountability because I am interested in pursuing a career in policing. I am curious in finding out what it is that causes certain police officers to become deviant and unaccountable. Moreover, I want to know what drives police officers to accept bribes from criminals to look the other way or help gangs transport drugs. As well as, how police officers plant evidence in investigations in order to make a case or arrest. Lately on the news we’ve been hearing about how police officers use unnecessary force to detain suspects and how they are not following proper protocol. For example, RCMP officer Geoff Mantler is on trial for assault causing bodily harm when he kicked a man in the face. This is a serious matter that is continuing to occur by more and more police officers and it needs to be dealt with. Are there more deviant police officers today than the past? Cell phones with video recorders have made it easy to catch evidence when police officers are crossing the line. Wearing a police uniform does not mean the officer is above the law, no one is above the law. “The police are meant to enforce the law and now abuse it” (Punch, 2009, p.1). Why aren’t the high standards of policing not being met by police officers? This issue leaves the public highly concerned about what measures need to be taken. However, there is not much the public can do when police officers are being investigated, only the RCMP can investigate the case inside the organization.

I intent to learn about police deviance and accountability because in the future I want to be prepared for these things when they do occur within the organization and by learning about it I will be able to help myself and others avoid these deviant acts. Furthermore, how can one bad apple corrupt an entire police force? Does the ability to use excessive force if necessary lead to deviance? Can this power corrupt the police?

“Some officers explained in hearings that the brutality was how they initially learned to ‘cross the line’. After that first step it was easier to progress to other deviance, including corruption. Brutality was used to see if a new officer was a tough and ‘good’ cop, meaning one who could be trusted not to report wrongdoing” (Punch, 2009, p.13).

Police officers are to uphold professionalism, integrity, accountability, and respect. I have learned that most of the policing guidelines come from Peel’s Principles of Policing (1829).

This area of study explains the role of policing. It explicates the corruption and misconduct we have in our police force. People need to look behind the police badge and report the officer if they are stepping out of line. Most police officers tend to abuse their powers. By studying this area we can see the connection between police powers and the public’s rights. Deviant acts are being committed by police officers such as accepting bribes to allow organized crime and illegal activities to continue. This area gives us a insight on what is going on in our police force and we need to figure out a way to put a stop to it.


Punch, M. (2009). Police corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing. Portland: Willan Publishing.

Strachan, B. (2012, November 29). Mountie in kicking video violated protocol. CBC News. Retrieved from


  1. Mike Larsen says:

    Interesting post.

    You note that “However, there is not much the public can do when police officers are being investigated, only the RCMP can investigate the case inside the organization.”

    Is this the case? There are a number of ways that other agencies take part in the provision of police accountability. Are you suggesting that the accountability framework for the RCMP needs to be changed – and if so, what kinds of changes would you like to see?

    You note, in your conclusion, that one reason to study police deviance is to learn how to put a stop to it. Having read the initial sections of Punch (2009), do you think that this is an attainable goal? Can we ever put a stop to police deviance? Why or why not?

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