Police corruption Literature Review Final Assignment

Literature Review Final Assignment


Police corruption is a global issue affecting law enforcement systems. It is an issue that has severe consequences and will continue to have severe effects for both the citizens and police officers. According to different scholars, the idea that police officers are corrupt has been steadily growing different opinions. Many aspects of policing have changed since its beginning, but the existence of police corruption has remained to be unchanged. The literature review will give clear guidance on the issue of police corruption and strategies that can be put in place to address the issue. The review is important to any group or individual who may need to understand the meaning of police corruption, the various types of police corruption, and how they may prevent and manage it in their States. The literature review focuses on fifteen articles on the issue of corruption. It has been divided into four subtopics, which are different types of police corruption, Factors influencing police corruption, impacts of police corruption, and Strategies that may be used to Control and Manage Police corruption.

Definition of Police Corruption

Police corruption happens when police officers violate or refuse to exercise their authority with the primary purpose of promoting individual or departmental benefits (Dean & Lauchs, 2010). According to Benson, police corruption is when public officials are engaged in offenses where they use their powers by act or by the omission of an act for their gain (1998). According to Stinson, police crimes are the offenses committed by sworn police officers who have the general power of arrest (Stinson, 2016).

Types of Police Corruption

Police corruption happens when the officers engage in actions that are prohibited, either being involved in criminal activities or violation of laws provided it is on the grounds of a police officer’s position. It can either be related to profit-motivated corruption, sex-related corruption, or even drug-related corruption. Benson argues that corruption by the police is not limited to financial benefits only since it may also be done in the search for the prestige of future support of an officer or somebody else. Corruption happens when a police officer abuses his occupational position (Benson, 1998). He explains that Bribery is the most common form of corruption practiced by the police. It happens when police officers violate the law for their financial benefit.

Individuals who are caught engaging in criminal activities by law enforcement officers are always trying to bribe (Gui et al. 2013). The police officers choose which laws they want to enforce and which they do not want, and this is an act of police corruption. (Benson, 1998). According to Carter, there are various types of police corruption in law enforcement offices, which are all influenced by common factors (Carter 1990).

Selling criminal activities is also another type of police corruption, as described by Carter. Police officers violate criminal procedures by allowing criminals to engage in drug-related activities. Carter also argues that police corruption may involve bribery, theft, and similar activities related to drug activities. He explains the issue of police corruption as associated with drug-related activities. Police may choose to take bribes and cover-up for the illegal drug activities taking place.

Police officers do not provide damaging information about their colleagues, and this presents a huge obstacle in the effective control of misconduct at work. The fact that law enforcement officers are more likely to report crimes committed by civilians than those committed by their colleagues is an exercise of police Corruption. (Marche, 2009). Most police officers alter testimonies that are associated with their colleagues or those that are associated with whom they receive bribery (Marche, 2009).

Factors Influencing Police Corruption

The main factors that influence police corruption are community standards, different perceptions of the police, Police Culture, and lack of Transparency in Police agencies. The study carried out by (Stinson, 2016) to analyze the overall nature of crimes associated with the law enforcement officers suggested that the police work in places that are vulnerable to all forms of criminal activities and bribery can be done easily because of their nature of work and connection with people.

A study done by Rad 2018 found out that increasing the problem of lack of transparency and accountability in law enforcement officers’ influences police corruption. If the citizens and other leaders do not know what is happening in the law enforcement agencies, the junior officers take the advantage to engage in corruption. Carter argues that “corruption in law enforcement agencies is influenced by common factors including abrogation of trust, market forces of the illicit drug trade, blue code of secrecy, opportunity structure, invulnerability factor and persistence of corruption patterns” (Carter, 1990).

Stinson, Liederbach, Lab & Brewer, 2016 conducted a study intending to promote integrity by understanding the issue of police misconduct and how the law enforcement officers responded to police arrest. The study found out that when the citizens believe that they have a positive interaction with law enforcement officers and that it is associated with fairness, they are likely to adhere to the rules provided by the law enforcement. This proves that Different perceptions are a major factor that influences police corruption (Stinson et al., 2016).

Law enforcement culture is a factor influencing police corruption (Marche, 2009). Structures within the police agencies influence police corruption as the scale of police agency operation increases. According to (Benson 1998), the power to give rights and make judgments is only issued to a few people, and this makes the payoff of the officials’ increase. Benson provides an example of judges who have almost all the control over the cases brought to them and are more likely to take bribes so that they may make their rulings in favor of a certain group or individual, which is of interest to them.

Effects of Police Corruption

Almost all the studies conducted on the issue of police corruption show that it undermines the moral standing of the police. Stinson et al. did a study analyzing the effect of police corruption, and they found out that police corruption damages the professionalism of law enforcement officials (Stinson et al. 2016). The officers stop working for the benefit of the public and start working for their gain.

Police corruption leaves the public exposed to a high rate of crime and causes distrust of the police service, which causes crimes to multiply (Peck, 2015). If the police keep on practicing corruption, the public will believe that they can get away with any crime just by bribing the police officers. The study done by peck proved that positive experiences of citizens with the police officers result in increased trust and confidence, while negative outcomes undermine their confidence in the law enforcement agencies in general. The police tend to have a negative perception of black people and Hispanics, and this makes black people lack trust in the police officers. If black people do not trust the police officers, they will not report any wrong acts to them.

Another research study was carried out by Uildriks to investigate the issue of human violations by the police showed that police corruption is likely to result in police use of force. When the police officers practice corruption, the public loses trust in law enforcement and are likely to engage in crime. Areas that are more likely to police corruption have a low quality of life because those who are in charge of protecting the citizens are only interested in themselves and only care about themselves and not the well-being of the citizens. When an area is more prone to crimes, police are likely to use force when dealing with the citizens (Uildrinks & Reenen, 2001). Public trust is essential for the government to be able to succeed.

Strategies That May be Used to Control and Manage Police Corruption

Different scholars have come up with different policies that may be implemented to prevent and manage police corruption in law enforcement systems. Gui, Hekim, and Teskesli performed a study to address the problem of police corruption. They found out that training is an effective tool that can be used to prevent the excessive use of force by law enforcement officers. The police should receive proper training on how they should handle citizens in different circumstances. Training is an effective strategy that can be used to shape law enforcement officers to act professionally in a manner that can be accepted by society (Gui, 2013). Training can lower the rate of cases involving the use of force by the police that make citizens raise complaints. If the police do not the rules, policies, and procedures that should govern them in their activities, they become a threat to the citizens. Ethics training is positively related to the use of police use of excessive force to the citizens.

Dean, G, Bell & Lauchs, 2010 also conducted a study to address the lack of a formulated framework in the issue of police corruption. He found out that examining the problem in-depth and analyzing it can help in coming up with strategies that may be used to prevent It. He argues that if people are aware of what caused police corruption and how it is done, they will be able to come up with effective ways that may help control the situation.

Chapel & Piquero, 2003 did a study to analyze the different causes of police misconduct found that social learning theory can be implemented to control and manage police misconduct. This is because the concept of social learning provides a better explanation of bribery and violence by the police.

An article “can the police be reformed?” by Weitzer explained that community policing could be used to prevent police corruption. Establishing community policing increases the public confidence of the citizens, which makes it easy for the police officers to tackle crime in the community. Since corruption results in a lack of public trust, community policing makes the police avoid corruption, and the citizens end up having confidence with the police officers. Willis, 2011 conducted another study to analyze how CompStat and community policing have helped in enhancing police organization legitimacy. He found out that the two police reforms help in the development of public trust and support. The reforms also help in solving community-related problems and in mitigating the perceptions of unfairness. The study, therefore, proved that comp stat and community policing are effective strategies that help to control and manage police corruption. (Willis, 2011).

Weitzer suggests that Having a diverse workforce can help in developing positive relationships with the community members it serves, thus promoting fairness and trust in law enforcement. Having a diverse workforce can result in effective policing because it encourages citizens to support and co-operate with the police officers. Law enforcement officers should reflect on the racial and ethnic diversity in their workforce. The minority groups should also be given preferences when hiring public officials. (Weitzer, 2011).


Police corruption is an issue that is affecting law enforcement and will continue to affect it if nothing is done. It is the abuse of authority by a police officer who is on or off duty. Cases, where police officers engage in crime, have a severe consequence on the law enforcement system and the police officers. When different scholars try to address the issue of police corruption, they cannot separate the issue from abuse of force. Police corruption leads to a lack of public trust and use of excessive force which may result from an increase in criminal activities. The literature review consists of fifteen articles discussing the different types of police corruption, factors that influence police corruption, and policies that can be used to prevent and manage it.



Benson, B. L. (1988). An institutional explanation for the corruption of criminal justice officials. Cato J.8, 139.

Carter, D. L. (1990). Drug-related corruption of police officers: A contemporary typology. Journal of criminal justice18(2), 85-98.

Chappell, A. T., & Piquero, A. R. (2004). Applying social learning theory to police misconduct. Deviant Behavior25(2), 89-108.

Dean, G., Bell, P., & Lauchs, M. (2010). A conceptual framework for managing knowledge of police deviance. Policing & Society20(2), 204-222

Eitle, D., D’Alessio, S. J., & Stolzenberg, L. (2014). The effect of organizational and environmental factors on police misconduct. Police Quarterly17(2), 103-126.

Gül, Z., Hekim, H., & Terkeşli, R. (2013). Controlling police (excessive) force: The American case. Journal of Human Sciences10(2), 285-303.

Kutnjak Ivković, S. (2005). Police (mis) behavior: A cross-cultural study of corruption seriousness. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management28(3), 546-566.

Marché, G. E. (2009). Integrity, culture, and scale: an empirical test of the big bad police agency. Crime, Law and Social Change51(5), 463-486

Peck, J. H. (2015). Minority perceptions of the police: A state-of-the-art reviewPolicing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management38(1), 173-203.

Rad, A. (2018). Police Institutions and Police Abuse: Evidence from the US. Available at SSRN 3246419.

Smith, J. C. (1997). Police Violence: Understanding and Controlling Police Abuse of Force. Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology87(4), 1514.

Stinson, P. M., Liederbach, J., & Brewer Jr, S. L. (2016). Police Integrity Lost: A Study of Law Enforcement Officers Arrested.

Uildriks, N., & Van Reenen, P. (2001). Human rights violations by the police. Human Rights Review2(2), 64-64. Weitzer, R. (2005). can the police be reformed? contexts4(3), 21-26.

Weitzer, R. (2005). can the police be reformed? contexts4(3), 21-26.

Willis, J. J. (2011). Enhancing police legitimacy by integrating CompStat and community policing. Policing: an international journal of police strategies & management34(4), 654-673.



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