Corruption is contagious: dirty cops make their partners dirty

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/08/02/rotten-apples-r-us.html

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Part of the problem is they got rid of the “bad” cops. The guys who sleep a bit, take a little cash off the top during a bust etc.

Out went the bad and in cane the evil. No Miami vice sports car from selling coke for them - they follow the rules (and end up killing folks in the process)

It’s something I struggle to articulate but I think that in many contexts or society attempting to stamp out minor misdeeds lead instead to much more serious ones being rampant

I’ve read there’s also a serious problem with training officers, which job tends to attract the worst sorts if not carefully monitored. One reformer who went through it himself said something to the effect of “you go through the academy, learning the right way to do things, and then on your first training day you’re told ‘forget everything you ever learned at the academy’. And you listen because he holds your career in his hands.”

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I don’t think that’s it at all.

I think that police unionization (cops aren’t labor btw) combined with ever escalating “warrior mentality” training, and the fact that departments have little federal oversight which allowed them to be infiltrated by white nationalists has contributed a lot more to our cop problems than simply ferreting out dirty pigs.

I also think cops spend much too long with their partners. I don’t think it benefits the public to make cops above all else loyal to each other. If their training is done properly, partners should be interchangable since everyone knows how to do things the right way and everyone should be swapped around regularly.

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That “cops aren’t labor btw” statement slid by… but really? What are they? They aren’t management.

From what I understand, there’s a huge supply of ex-forever-war military who join up, bringing their forever-war mentality to what should be “community policing”. That’s a serious problem.

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They fall under a special category in capitalist countries known as “guard labour”.

The more economically unequal a country is, the larger the percentage of its total workforce devoted to guard labour tends to be. Economists Bowles and Jayadev estimated that percentage in the U.S. at 25% in 2010. It’s grown since then.

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To reduce police corruption, the researchers recommend “mixed race” pairings of cops in high-crime areas

Oh great just what we need, more '80s ‘buddy’ cop movies

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Cops aren’t labor because they don’t produce economic value.

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My grandfather was a police officer in Cleveland back in the early 1950s but left the job and the city after two years because he couldn’t stomach the corruption and racism on the force.

Those who aren’t corrupted are often just driven away.

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Funny how the well-worn phrase “a few rotten apples” turns out to be completely and totally appropriate when speaking about police*. Of course, the common usage almost universally ignores that the expression is, “a rotten apple spoils the bunch,” and that’s why it’s so appropriate.

*That seemed pretty obvious, but it’s nice to have data.

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There are no clean police departments. Never have been. Read “our lawless police” 1931, https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/title/our-lawless-police/ or the Atherton Report, https://archive.org/details/AthertonReportText. 1937

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More reading:

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My Dad was the same in 1970s rural B.C. . He tried to stop his partner from using a strangle hold on a native man, and then went to the higher ups with his complaint. Within a year or two (I don’t actually know it was before I was born) he was drummed out of the service. His partner by all accounts was protected.

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This is true of corruption throughout private, public and nonprofit sectors (that it rubs off on coworkers).

Everybody’s doing it.
– Bud Fox, Wall Street

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Yes I totally agree with everything you said.

What I’m saying is if you don’t have warriors, you have other sorts. Driving out other sorts drove in the warriors imho.

Bad cops drive out good.

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Sigh. This is radically condensed but . . . during the gilded age, the NYPD became spectacularly institutionally corrupt. Various progressive attempts to cleanup the NYPD failed and the city settled for predictable corruption. However during and after the depression Commissioner Valentine cleaned up the force. In short, he used the massive unemployment of the era to hire, doh, educated policeman and then used transfers to break up institutional corruption as possible. By the time Valentine left the force, the NYPD was arguably one of the more honest police forces in the US. The depression and WWII era NYPD generation was slowly displaced by individually corrupt cops and then, by the time of the Knapp and Mollen Commissions, full-on institutionalized corruption was common. There was a moment under Giuliani when the political will to reduce corruption was there but, sigh, Giuliani simply refocused, restructured the force to hide the corruption and get to where we are today. In the mid to late-90s, the force could have rebooted the depression era procedures and hiring practices that made the NYPD more honest. Minimum education requirements could have been increased, corrupt precincts broken up, and officers transferred in ways that reduced street-level corruption. But no, Giuliani used a few high-profile bad apple cases to appease the press and kept intact precincts that were corrupt top to bottom (moving whole groups of cops from one precinct to another instead of breaking up groups of cops who know each other), focus was shifted to crime stats (as opposed to cop stats), search and frisk was radically increased, etc. The opportunity for a more honest force passed.

I know, I know, that’s a radical over simplification but . . . there are obvious ways that the NYPD can reduce corruption–civilian participation in review boards, random street assignments, actual punishment for cop crimes, higher education standards, etc. It’s hard to turn corrupt cops straight but it’s not impossible to hire non-corrupt cops. It’s hard to stop all corruption but possible to make it hard for corrupt cops to run precinct houses. Etc.

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These two are gimmes. It’s insane the cop unions scare people enough.

It’s not like the cops are actually very good at their jobs. fire them. Let them strike and setup a new system. It’ll be expensive. It’ll be politically rough. But so is paying millions of dollars in settlements for wrongful deaths. And even when those very rare rulings are in favor of the people the cops killed, it’s never costly for them.

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