Research Paper on Police Corruption and Brutality

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1462 Words
Date:  2022-02-12


Trust in criminal justice system relies on the understanding that every individual is playing by the rules. While numerous law enforcement departments and agents make intensive efforts to operate within the rules, police corruption and brutality persists. Police brutality is the unwarranted or excessive and unlawful use of force against citizens by law enforcement officers. Types of police brutality include assault, battery, torture, mayhem, and murder. Police brutality also encompasses false arrest, verbal abuse, and intimidation. Police corruption includes abuse of law enforcement power for personal gain. The paper examines police corruption and brutality.

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Police corruption in the U.S. is not usually reported in the media. Nevertheless, cases of police corruption and brutality have been reported widely. For instance, reports indicate that law enforcement officers get arrested 1000 times per year. About 41% of the total crimes committed by sworn officers are committed while the officers are on duty. Police corruption is detrimental to society. In the social perspective, one corrupt officer in a department can result in general distrust of the department. This negative outlook on policing by civilians assists in maintaining an 'us vs. them' mentality among the police' this only increases the rift between law enforcement officers and civilians (Transparency International, 2011).

Police corruption, when brought to the limelight, increases pressure on a department by lawmakers to implement change from within. For instance, in 2013, the West Valley City, Utah police narcotic's department was split because of widespread exploitation among its officers. The officers were found robbing small materials from seized cars, hoarding evidence and installing monitoring devices on possible respondents' cars without a warrant. In Feb 2018, Baltimore police were on the spot for corruption. A group of plainclothes law enforcement officers was accused of rampant misconduct. The elite squad in Baltimore was responsible for illegally seizing prescription drugs and robbing motorists. The police officers were also accused of stealing thousands of dollars, selling drugs, robbing homes and arresting innocent civilians (New York Times, 2018).

Law enforcement officers are far less corrupt than the general populace in the United States. Corruption in law enforcement falls into three categories. First, an individual who should have never been an officer in the first place was hired because a vacancy was presented to him or her. An individual working for a department that offers terrible compensation- fundamentally when the law enforcement are paid less, they will tend to make more money on the streets. Thirdly, a person ensnared by a criminal enterprise generally organized crime. Police officers corruption is feared because of the power they yield. Most police officers get away with corruption because people fear to report them to their superiors.

There are numerous ways to deal with corruption in law enforcement. Technological advancement in policing and law enforcement could determine how corruption is either detected or deterred. Some technologies that can be used are early intervention systems, developed record keeping, compstat, crime assessment devices, and in-car cameras. With improved technology comes more pellucidity. Early intervention systems are an ideal technological development that can be assessed to comprehend how corruption can be reduced at an early stage. These systems increase police responsibility by assessing an individual's officer's actions, performance issues, arrest trends, accrued grievances, and other job-related problems. External transition in society can also influence police officer corruption. Corruption can transform to mirror an area of opportunity. From acquiring money from criminal to engaging in drug trafficking, opportunities exist to benefit an individual. The prospects of corruption are higher when there is a large degree of discretionary power granted to a law enforcement officer. Exclusion and the war on drugs are some cases where corruption can transform to fit the issues of the society - the transformations that are part of social influence law enforcement which in turn influences the training that the law enforcement officers undertake. Improved training and advanced education are likely to result in a higher degree of dignity and respect for police officers. Given the increase in public interaction with community policing, law enforcement officers and security organizations are better equipped to address the potential exposure to corruption than they were a decade ago (Guardian, 2018).

Multiple federal laws safeguard American citizens from law enforcement brutality or help civilians in filing suits against police officers in such acts have happened. Title 18 of the United States code makes it unlawful for a police officer to deliberately keep or conspire to keep civilians from expression or invoking any of their rights that are safeguarded by the. Constitution or the U.S. law. The Code can be utilized in numerous forms of police brutality including but not restricted to excess lethal force, intimidation, excessive physical force, sexual abuse, and the utilization of pepper spray in an inappropriate way. Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act assists civilians who have experienced police brutality. Under Title 6, the law states that it is unlawful for local and state police officers to discriminate against civilians based on their ethnicity, gender, nationality and religious affiliation (Caldero, 2014).

There are numerous cases of police brutality in the U.S. Hundreds of men and women are murdered by law enforcement officers every year across the U.S. Most groups affected by police brutality are the African American men. However, numerous African American women have also died at the hands of brutal law enforcement officers. A case of police brutality was observed in Michael Brown's murder. The teenager was unarmed when he was fatally shot in Ferguson, Missouri. When civilians in Missouri protested the act, the police response was heavy-handed and violent. They used brutal approaches like rubber bullets and tear gas to suppress the protests. This was a brutal way of handling the civilians. In terms of addressing police brutality, all the 50 US states and the District of Columbia fail to adhere to international standards on police use of lethal force (Moore,2010). Thirteen states in the U.S fail to fulfill the lower standards set by the United States constitutional law on the use of lethal force by police officers while nine states and the District of Columbia have no laws at all on the use of lethal force.

Deaths and injuries at police hands are not properly tracked presently. Estimates of individuals murdered annually by police officers range from 400 to 1000. In 2015, more than 920 people were murdered by law enforcement officers. Reports indicate that African American people are three times more likely to be murdered by police than whites. Additionally, African Americans are more than twice likely to be unarmed when murdered during police encounters than whites. This shows that the law enforcement officers are brutal towards one race over the other. The issue of police brutality is also not properly addressed by the court system. Reports also indicate that for every 1,000 individuals killed by law enforcement officers; only one officer is convicted of a murder crime. An informative study by Washington Post (2015) indicated that among thousands who have been killed by law enforcement officers since 2005, only 54 police officers had been charged. It appears that the absence of a conviction of law enforcement encourages cases of police brutality. Most targets of police cruelty including African Americans, whites and other racial groups come from the status of the poor and low-income working classes. These groups of people have consistently lacked substantial political influence or the monetary resources that are limited.


Conclusively, the law enforcement officers serve an integral part in the U.S. society. Officers look out for the citizens and ensure that their safety and happiness is guaranteed. However, there have been numerous cases of police corruption and brutality in the U.S. law enforcement department. There are numerous reported cases on intimidation, illegal arrests, murder, torture, robbery, and assault. Numerous police officers have been arrested in possession of items seized from innocent people. In Utah and Baltimore, police officers were found in possession of items that could be used as evidence. Police brutality is highly reported in the U.S. Every month the media reports on cases where police officers brutally murder an innocent civilian. The most affected group in police brutality is the African American. The issue of race has always come up in anti-police brutality campaigns. To avoid incidences of police brutality, there is a need to establish community policing and advance police training.


Caldero, M. A. (2014). Police ethics: The corruption of noble cause. Routledge.

Guardian. (2018). Where does police brutality fit in America's first law enforcement museum?

Moore, L. N. (2010). Black rage in New Orleans: Police brutality and African American activism from World War II to Hurricane Katrina. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.

New York Times. (2018). In Baltimore, Brazen Officers Took Every Chance to Rob and Cheat.

Transparency International. (2011). Crossing the Line: The Consequences of Police Corruption.

Washington Post. (2015). Thousands dead, few prosecuted.

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Research Paper on Police Corruption and Brutality. (2022, Feb 12). Retrieved from

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