Enhancing Police Integrity: Organizational Obligations

Carl B. Klockars, University of Delaware

Police administrations acquire two types of obligations with respect to officer misconduct. One set of obligations, based on a conception of police misconduct as a problem of defective individual officers is to prevent such persons from entering police service and expel those who escape screening or become corrupted after they have entered. A second set of obligations, based on a conception of police misconduct as an organizational as opposed to an individual problem, requires police agencies to create an organizational culture that is intolerant of misconduct. To do so police administrations must .create and communicate organizational rules that define and prohibit misconduct; detect, investigate, and discipline rule violations; and circumscribe of the code of silence. To fulfill these organizational obligations a two year study of three police agencies of high integrity identifies five questions police administrations can ask about integrity and offers a tool with which they can measure the contours of integrity in their own agencies. The study identifies a series of strategies and tactics organizations can employ to ensure that officers know and support agency rules, understand and endorse the agency's disciplinary threat against rule violation, and prove willing to come forward to report misconduct.

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Updated 05/20/2006