Sample Essay on Unethical Police Operations

Unethical Police Operations


It is extremely difficult to separate police service from corruption, misconduct and brutality occasioned by police officers. Studies have elaborated that in situations,where an officer uses force, it is important for the officer in question to justify such use of force (Bergman& Berman-Barrett, 2015). Criminal justice and law enforcement is governed by ethics that goes beyond officer conduct and activities like accepting a cup of tea or soliciting for a free car wash. It is worth pointing out that in the event where an officer operates by lowering ethical and moral standard,his ability to perform his duties may be affected adversely (Duff, Farmer, Marshall, Renzo &Tadros2010). When police officers misuse their power and authority,their professional integrity and competence is compromised. Also,it spreads corruption, misconduct and brutality within the department.

Extent of Police Corruption, Misconduct and Brutality

Law enforcement may be an uphill task for police officers, because at times they have to face various complex and challenging situations which may inhibit their ability to maintain law and order in an ethical way. The world today is faced with myriad of troubles like terrorism, drug smuggling, money laundering and human trafficking. In the last five years, police department has encountered several challenges that have posed serious ethical issues. For instance, police officers are likely to be tempted to engage in illicit drug trade to make money. Maintenance of ethical practices in today’s society is difficult, as was the case in the past.

Different problems require different response mechanisms. For instance, many people have concurred that the best way to deal with terrorism is through creation of ethical dilemmas. Social stigmas often influence how police officers react to different situations.For example, an officer may come across a young man with pants down and his hat turned to one side. The officer may act based on the stigma present in society, which equates such a person to a thug. Studies have established that social stigma may also bring corruption, misconduct, brutality, racial profiling and mistreatment (Bergman& Berman-Barrett, 2015).

In United States, corruption in the police department has been rampant because many officers often misusetheir authoritarian position for personal gain. Many police officers are involved in corrupt practices that involveprofits or material gain illegally. Currently, in the country, many officers are involved in corrupt deals that encompass taking of bribes, extortion, receiving stolen goods and drug smuggling. Most of these corrupt dealings have been there because of lack of integrity in police operations, poor leadership skills, work environment and structure of the police department. Moreover, corruption in the police department is instigated by desire for money, respect and power. Many officers are involved in corrupt activities, and in the process, use force to maintain and protect their corrupt dealings and cushion it from the eye of people and media. Likewise, officers working under stress may fall victims of corruption, misconduct and police brutality arising from use of excessive force.

Misconduct and brutality is a violation of human rights in the United States of America and therefore all patterns have been well documented across the country. Human rights activists have revealed that brutality basically comprises of police beatings, unfounded shootings and use of unsafe restraint methods on suspects (Gaines& Kappeler, 2011).According to statistics cases of racial discrimination, harassment, physical and verbal abuse, false arrests have been on the rise (Gaines& Kappeler, 2011). In states such as California, Colorado, Texas, Florida black individuals driving have often been criminally labeled, racially profiled and unwarranted searches have also been on the rise. These issues touch on misconduct and brutality, many of the cited cases have often been found to be unjust though police officers have in many occasions been absolved.

Even though most police subdivisionsspecify that their officers are allowed to use excess force in situations of great threat to lives of other people or when the life of an officer is endangered, most of the police activities have been serious cases of guilt and misconduct. The public has often witnessed cases of police shooting that have resulted into deaths; most of these instances have been routinely reviewed to ascertain whether criminal laws were violated. On the contrary, studies have elaborated that very few officers are criminally charged and scarce datais given to the public incase such litigations do not go to trial (Gaines& Kappeler, 2011).This has resulted into persistence in impunity since most abuse arising from misconduct and brutality has been consistently hidden.

Police Brutality Case

Americans witness daily incidences of police brutality occurring on the streets. An example of a police brutality case was witnessed on January 1, 2009, where many people described the situation as cold-blooded murder. Oscar Grant was shot in the back and killed. In fact, it has been established that he was unarmed and offered no resistance to arrest yet he was thrust face-down and killed in cold blood (Gaines& Kappeler, 2011).Many videotapes that recorded the ordeal offered irrefutable proof and thus the jury was in a better place to ensure justice.

The accused officer was Johannes Mehserle, accused of killing a mentally ill person.It has been opined that in this case the jury was advised to consider possible verdicts including innocent, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter (Bergman& Berman-Barrett, 2015). The verdict was the latter-innocent; this meant that the killer acted on the confines of law and enforcement of law and order. Many people, including myself, totally disagree with the verdict since according to legal professionals “the act of unlawfully killing another human being unintentionally cannot be distinguished from voluntary manslaughter,” (Gaines& Kappeler, 2011).Moreover, based on assertions of other attorneys like Wallin & Klarich, this is a violent crime that carries a 2-4 years sentence and in addition, due to the use of a gun, Judge Robert Perry was at discretion to add more years to the sentence.

After the verdict, it was established that protests erupted on Oakland streets with many people turning out in large numbers to criticize the ruling (Bergman& Berman-Barrett, 2015). Police officers were again criticized because of their actions and arrests that were total disrupt to justice in general. The mother of Grant lamented that her son was murdered and the police officer was never held accountable for his actions. According to this case, it is important to note that justice is often denied to the public even if there is tangible evidence to prove police brutality in murder, torture and beatings.



Misconduct and corruption case

In 2014, six Philadelphia police officers were charged in what was bordering on conducting themselves inappropriately and corruption. According to evidence presented in the case, the police officers have been running a corruption syndicate for years and used inappropriate techniques to shake down drug dealers. To achieve this, they extensively relied on their guns, badges, beatings and other forms of threat to extort money from drug dealers. According to what was presented in court, the officers were also accused of holding a suspect over an 18th floor balcony and used a steel bar to beat someone else in the head (Bergman& Berman-Barrett, 2015). Moreover, the court was informed on how the officers acted inappropriately, contrary to ethical requirements by holding a man captive for days.

Larry Krasnerwasa lawyer representing over 60 people who were suing the city and police officer over corruption and misconduct. He lamented that the city is characterized by narcotics units. It was elaborated that the charges were based on conspiracy, extortion, robbery, kidnapping and drug dealing (Bergman& Berman-Barrett, 2015). According to the jury’s decision the officers were to serve at least seven years mandatory sentence. I totally agree with the decision of the court because the conduct borders on fundamental of ethics and prescribed conduct. It is worth pointing out that in many cases officers are put in service department including those who should not be in the department in the first place (Husak, 2008).


Police corruption, misconduct and brutality exist everywhere and have been on the forefront in hurting the department. Police officers are held higher on standards of ethics, despite involving themselves in activities that jeopardize missions and objectives of maintaining law and order. Officers should be trained and educated to operate on the confines of ethical standards and requirements. General public should not lose their faith in law and order of the country and for this it is essential that the police department keeps itself free from corruption and misconduct.




Bergman, P., & Berman-Barrett, S. J. (2015). The criminal law handbook: Know your rights,

survive the system. Berkeley, California:Nolo.

Duff, R. A., Farmer, L., Marshall, S. E., Renzo, M., &Tadros, V. (2010). The boundaries of the criminal law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gaines, L. K., & Kappeler, V. E. (2011). Policing in America. Newark, NJ: Lexis Nexis.

Husak, D. N. (2008). Over-criminalization: The limits of the criminal law. New York: Oxford

University Press.