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Preventing Corruption in Drug Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
James Wood A.O.
Date Published
December 2001
6 pages
This document provides text from a speech on drug law enforcement and police corruption by the Chief Judge at Common Law in the New South Wales (Australia) Supreme Court.
Some historical developments that rendered police organizations vulnerable to corruption were vice and gaming, sly grog, starting price (SP) betting, and abortion services. The exposure to police corruption begins with a small share of money during a search, fabricating evidence or planting exhibits, and stealing from drug offenders. Corruption prevention has to be multi-faceted, beginning with recruitment/training, working through operational procedures and safeguards, as well as career development, and ending up with a detection safety net that can target corrupt conduct and provide a basis for prosecution and severance from the Service. Attention should be given to the keeping of personnel files and the development of an early warning system. Managing police operations requires the attention and presence of ethical front-line supervisors that understand the pitfalls. Supervisors should not give approval for controlled covert operations without properly checking the proposal and the corruption risks. Rotation of police officers is important so officers do not become accustomed to working in partnerships that are too close or too regular. Supervisors must listen to and respond to complaints of corrupt conduct. Local Area Commanders and leaders of drug units must be removed from office if they fail to effectively supervise and set a proper role model. Undercover operatives require special mention. Careful pre-selection vetting and continuous monitoring and support are needed because of the temptations, stresses, and dangers involved. The proper procedures for informant management should be respected. All informant contact must be closely monitored and officers trained in what is expected and what they might confront. The most important corruption prevention element is leadership and the involvement of supervisors selected for integrity and dedication. A comprehensive network in New South Wales has four arms: the Ombudsman, the Special Crime and Police Internal Affairs Unit, the Crime Commission of New South Wales, and the Police Integrity Commission (PIC).