Police misconduct and corruption are inherent in the field due to the nature of policing where they work under discretionary standards and are free from direct supervision. Police and law enforcement officers sometimes abuse their authority and violate the constitutional rights of criminals “varying from flagrant violations of criminal law to a breach of prescribed ethical standards” (Lyman, p. 223). As the problem of corruption starts within a police department, “commanders lose the ability to control their officers and as a result, confidence from the community is lost” (Preventing Police). There are distinct differences, however, between misconduct - being described as a lapse of good judgment; and corruption - which lends to criminal wrongdoing. Lyman, in The Police - An Introduction, defines corruption as “the abuse of police authority for gain” (2010) and is one type of misconduct that has been particularly problematic in policing. Furthermore, Herman Goldstein’s definition describes corruption as “the misuse of authority by a police officer in a manner designed to produce personal gain for the officer or others” (Lyman, p. 226). The process of when the police knowingly gets involved in different scenarios in exchange for significant benefits or rewards is when police corruption occurs. Lyman (2010) lists those scenarios as:
1. Doing something that he or she is under duty to do anyway
2. Doing something that he or she is under duty not to do
3. Exercising a legitimate discretion for improper reasons
4. Employing illegal means to achieve approved goals
The benefits or rewards could be personal or organizational that are given to officers in the form of money, gifts, access to power; or in the form of a promotion, peer support or approval of superiors. In an effort to investigate and expose police corruption, several commissions made different findings about officers of selected Police Departments that were revealed as follows:
1. The Knapp Commission - Uncovered corruption in the upper ranks of the New York City Police Department that was accepted by their police officers; “Clean” and “Dirty” money could not be distinguished in the buying, selling, and stealing of narcotics; and “grass eater” and “meat eater” terms described officers who both accepted whatever corrupt money came their way and those who actively sought out corruption opportunities.
2. The Christopher and Kolts Commissions - found that the LAPD failed to control brutal officers as the “heart of the problem” and recommended tighter supervision and better screening of job applicants to racial sensitivity training; few officers tend to be responsible for a high proportion of shootings, citizens’ lawsuits, or complaints of brutality; found evidence of a subculture that tolerated racist statements and failed to discipline officers guilty of misconduct while investigation the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD).
3. The Mollen Commission - found that police officers in New York City who engaged in the most egregious corruption, such as pocketing drug money, had