Police Misconduct in Los Angeles: Comparative Observations From Plant-Eating Japan

David T. Johnson, University of Hawaii at Manoa

This paper proceeds from the premise that cross-national comparisons of police misconduct can help reveal what is distinctive and problematic about police misconduct in the United States. The empirical foci are Los Angeles and Japan, to locales that have experienced serious police scandals in the last few years. Police in Los Angeles and Japan share several common features that are widely considered key causes of police misconduct: closed, secretive police cultures; defective systems of internal discipline; and a mere absence of accountability to external authorities. Nevertheless, the problem of police misconduct seems far less serious in "plant-eating" Japan then in "meet-eating" Los Angeles. This paper explores the causes of this "gap" in police misconduct and the policy implications that arise therefrom.

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Updated 05/20/2006