This survey asked various groups in Croatia to rate the seriousness of 11 hypothetical scenarios of police misconduct.
For the purposes of this study, "police corruption" was defined as "an action or omission, committed by a police officer or a group of police officers, characterized by the police officer's misuse of the official position motivated in significant part with the achievement of personal gain." Data for the study were obtained from two applications of the same survey. The first application (1995/1996) included Croatian police officers (n=1,649), Croatian college students (n=511), students at the Croatian Police College (n=223), and students at the Croatian Police High School (n=223). The second application (2001) included Croatian college students (n=511) and students at the Croatian Police College (n=271). The samples differed widely in their theoretical knowledge of and experience in policing. The sample of Croatian police officers was a stratified national sample from 41 police stations. The findings show that respondents had similar estimates of the seriousness of the various hypothetical police misconduct scenarios across varying levels of experience with policing. Although absolute evaluations of seriousness differed somewhat across the groups, the relative rankings were similar. Holiday gifts from merchants, off-duty security system business, and free or discounted meals were assessed as the least serious by most respondents. A bribe in a speeding case, theft from a found wallet, and the theft of a watch at a crime scene were viewed as the most serious offenses. A comparison of the seriousness evaluations by Police College students and college students over a 5-year period showed that, despite the changes in the political and social environment, both the absolute and relative evaluations of seriousness remained stable over time. The findings suggest a shared hierarchy of perceptions of various types of police misconduct. 2 tables, 30 references, and appended description of case scenarios