The Code of Silence in a Comparative Perspective

Sanja Kutnjak Ivkovich, Harvard Law School
Carl B. Klockars, University of Delaware

The code of silence is an informal prohibition in the police culture against reporting misconduct by fellow officers. By learning about the extent and nature of the code in their agency, the administrators take one of the crucial steps toward curtailing culture tolerant of misconduct. The methodological approach we developed allows us to provide an insight into the contours of the code of silence in a particular police force. We compare the perceived extent and nature of the code using the samples from five countries - Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, and the United States. In addition, we also examine the potential differences between the line officers' and supervisors' code in these five countries.

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Updated 05/20/2006