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Law Enforcement: Information on Drug-Related Police Corruption

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 1998
46 pages
This study examined the impact of drug trafficking on the corruption of police in large cities that have a high incidence of drug trafficking and drug abuse.
The study did not find any central data sources that would permit a reliable estimate of the extent of police corruption or how much of corruption is drug-related; however, the reports and studies reviewed, as well as interviews with officials and academic experts, provided descriptive information on the nature and extent of known drug-related police corruption in certain large cities, factors associated with known drug-related police corruption, and practices that have been recommended or implemented to prevent or detect drug-related police corruption. Findings show that drug-related police corruption differs in a variety of ways from other types of police corruption. In addition to protecting criminals or ignoring their activities, officers involved in drug-related corruption were more likely to be involved in the commission of a variety of crimes, including stealing drugs and/or money from drug dealers, selling drugs, and lying under oath about illegal searches. Although profit was found to be a motive common to traditional and drug-related police corruption, New York City's Mollen Commission identified power and vigilante justice as two additional motives for drug- related police corruption. The most common pattern of drug- related police corruption involved small groups of officers who protected and assisted each other in criminal activities. Although it was not possible to estimate the overall extent of drug-related police corruption, the academic experts and various officials interviewed, as well as the commission reports, indicated that by and large, most police officers are honest. Many sources consistently reported certain factors to be associated with drug-related police corruption. These include the police culture's code of silence, unquestioned loyalty to other officers, and cynicism about the criminal justice system. Management-related factors associated with drug-related corruption include ineffective headquarters and field supervision, the failure of top police officials to promote integrity, and weaknesses in a department's internal investigative structure and practices. Among recommended prevention practices were making a departmentwide commitment to integrity, changing the police culture, requiring command accountability, raising the age and educational requirements for officers, improving integrity training and accountability measures, and community policing. Detection practices were also recommended. A 58-item bibliography and appended supplementary data and information