Police deviance and corruption can occur in a number of facets and to various degrees involving a multitude of activities or practices. Some police agents (known as grass-eaters) engage in corrupt practice through passive means – accepting free or discounted goods and services as well as other extras viewed to simply be ‘perks’ of the job. Others, however, adopt a more active approach to corruption, proactively seeking out opportunities to engage in deviant practices (meat-eaters). Still others (birds) refrain from taking part in any deviant practices, but are aware of the presence of corruption and turn a blind eye to it.
It has been purported that such ‘grass-eating’ practices act as a stepping stone for officers to segue into more active approaches of deviance and in turn more serious forms of corruption. While a line may be drawn by ‘grass-eaters’ initially as to how far they will participate in deviant practices, it is argued that this line may be continually re-drawn by some pushing further into the ‘meat-eater’ territory.
In the instance of allegations of criminal activity against Surrey RCMP Constable David Clarke, this ‘meat-eater’ officer typology is apparent. In late December of 2010 Const. Clarke along with two other RCMP Constables were charged with a number of drug and weapons offences. In October 2010, upon receiving a complaint from a member of the public, the RCMP launched an investigation into the activities of Clarke and others. The investigation came to a close with three RCMP officers being criminally charges, most notably Const. Clarke who had 15 charges laid against him.
The umpteen charges against the RCMP officer included drug trafficking, theft of police property, possession of stolen property (including marijuana and identification documents), breach of trust, and possession of numerous illegal and restricted weapons. In this incident of corruption the officer used his position as a police authority to accumulate illicit narcotics and weaponry actively seeking to engage in criminal activities. As is indicated by the charges against Clarke, opportunistic theft of marijuana and numerous weapons occurred from police lockups, some of these stolen goods then being used to engage directly in criminal activities (drug trafficking).
The corrupt practices which occurred in this instance appear to be largely within the police domain. This type of deviance was pro-actively sought out by the officers involved for personal gain. Passive ‘grass-eating’ is not apparent in this situation nor were the officers flying above and disengaged from deviant practices.
Cop Facing 15 Charges Also Named in Civil Lawsuit. (December 23, 2010). CTV News. Retrieved from http://bc.ctvnews.ca
Punch, Maurice. (2011). Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing. New York, USA: Routledge.
Surrey RCMP Officer Facing Drug, Weapons Charges. (December 21, 2010). CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca