Chicago police data reveals how dirty cops spread corruption like a disease

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Hey a “rotten apple” does spoil the barrel!


Yup. I mean it’s not like we don’t make movies glorifying this problem. Oh wait…

I mean, it’s so ingrained in to cop culture, they even do things like this


Yup. It’s been said before, but, the whole point of the ‘one bad apple’ analogy is that if you don’t get rid of the bad apple, the whole barrel goes too. Like the 2nd Amendment, you’re not meant to just cherry pick the bit that suits your needs of the moment.


What they’ve rediscovered here is called “The Lucifer Effect”.

Christ, get it together, people.


I never ceased to be flummoxed that people use “a few bad apples” as a defense of their organization, to dismiss accusations of misconduct. You’re (unintentionally) admitting it’s a systemic problem that’s ruined the whole of your organization?


not really though. That would be more like “let’s bring IA down hard on that cop who keep drinking the last of the coffee without making a new pot, that should clear out this corruption”

This data-driven mapping of influence strategy is the opposite, and much more like responsible, community-based policing. Do the hard work to figure out who the actual problematic people are, and root them out. As in policing communities, it’s equally important to make sure cops feel safe, comfortable and supported in complaining about bad actors.


And here’s a version of the same model, in the same city, applied to gun violence - the Cure Violence project.

“Cure Violence stops the spread of violence by using the methods and strategies associated with disease control – detecting and interrupting conflicts, identifying and treating the highest risk individuals, and changing social norms – resulting reductions in violence of up to 70%.”

It’s a fascinating idea with real promise. The Yale Global Health Review has some analysis.


It’s a kind of “broken windows” theory, but for bad cops. Let one bad cop hang around the force, and other cops will be tempted to break the rules, too.

That’s a gross oversimplification. You need to realize that “dirty cops” (or any corrupt worker) will spend significantly more time gathering power and protecting themselves, and significantly less time doing their job. Any honest worker that has not somehow found a way of both doing their job and forming a vast power structure to fend off attacks will be at a disadvantage when dealing with an entrenched corrupt individual. This is why the careers of honest whistle-blowers who trip over something suspect rarely survive. Choosing between a career you’ve just invested years in and honesty is not as easy a decision as some people want to make out.

They’re not all “tempted to break the rules”, most are just desperately trying to survive.


This study looks good, but it is in complete opposition to the historical records. Most police departments are corrupt, and corrupt from the top. New recruits don’t just follow some bad apple, they go along with the dominant culture within the department. I read this amazing book, “Our Lawless Police,” prompted by the Wickersham hearings on police corruption in NYC in 1930.

Gresham’s Law, Bad money drives out good, can be applied here: Bad cops drive out good cops. See Serpico, Adrian Schoolcraft.

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