Control of Police Misconduct Research Paper

This sample Control of Police Misconduct Research Paper is published foreducational and informational purposes only. If you need help writing yourassignment, please use our research paper writing service and buy a paper on any topic ataffordable price. Also check our tips on how to write a research paper, see the lists of criminal justice research paper topics, and browse research paper examples.

Control of police misconduct is a complex undertaking that includes a series of heterogeneous functions such as establishing supervision and accountability, detecting and investigating misconduct, and cultivating police culture intolerant of misconduct. These functions of control and accountability could be performed by a network of diverse institutions such as the police agency itself, courts, mayors, media, and independent commissions. The traditional approach toward the study of control mechanism has been to classify the institutions performing the control functions into internal control mechanisms and external control mechanisms. The key internal control mechanisms (in which control functions are performed by the police agency itself) include the establishment of official rules, the roles performed by the police chief and the police administration, supervisors, and the internal sys tem of control. The key external control mechanisms (in which control functions are performed by the organizations, institutions, and individuals outside of the police agency) include the legislature, prosecutors, and criminal courts, civil courts, the Supreme Court, and independent commissions. Lastly, the key mixed mechanisms (in which the functions are performed by an outside institution or agency with police officers constituting at least a part of the membership) include citizen reviews and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.


Control of police misconduct includes a number of heterogeneous functions, from setting official agency policies and enforcing them, establishing supervision and accountability, detecting and investigating misconduct, and cultivating police culture intolerant of misconduct, to providing resources for control, controlling police agency’s own efforts to control misconduct, and limiting opportunities for misconduct. Some of these functions are reactive (e.g., disciplining police officers), while others are preventive (e.g., setting official policies, cultivating police culture intolerant of misconduct).

The functions are performed by a network of diverse institutions such as the police agency itself, courts, mayors, media, and independent commissions. The traditional approach to the study of control mechanism has been to classify the institutions performing the control functions into internal control mechanisms (housed within the police agency) and external control mechanisms (housed outside of the police agency). In addition, there are a few mechanisms of control that have elements of both internal and external mechanisms (those housed outside of the police agency, but potentially having police officers as members).

Internal Mechanisms Of Control And Accountability

One of the most important roles in controlling misconduct and achieving accountability should be performed by the police agency itself. Yet, police agencies vary dramatically with respect to the intensity and thoroughness with which they control their employees’ conduct, as various commission reports have indicated (see, e.g., Christopher Commission 1991; Knapp Commission 1972; Mollen Commission 1994; Pennsylvania Crime Commission 1974).

Police agencies have many diverse and interconnected ways in which they can strive to control police misconduct and enhance accountability. The control system “starts with the recruitment and selection process and continues with training and supervision, incorporating various aspects of rule establishment, communication, and enforcement that stimulate, allow, or prevent police officers from turning their propensity toward corruption into actual corrupt behavior” (Kutnjak Ivkovic´ 2005, p. 68).

1. Administrative Rules and Policies. Administrative rules and policies, usually compiled in the police agency’s standard operating procedure manual (SOP), are typically made by the police chief. The policies relevant for the control of police misconduct traditionally channel the use of discretion, describe appropriate conduct of police officers, prohibit inappropriate conduct, instruct officers to complete written reports after critical incidents, and require supervisory oversight (see, e.g., National Research Council 2004; Walker and Katz 2008).

Over the last two decades, there seems to have been an increase not only in the number of police agencies that have official policies, but also in the extent of the official policies. A study by Barker and Wells in 1982 reveals that about one-quarter of the police agencies at the time had no written policies at all, and having a set of written policies seems to have been related to the agency’s size. A more recent 2007 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey indicates that, regardless of the size of the population they serve, more than 95 % of the local police agencies had written policies regulating the code of conduct and appearance, and the use of lethal and nonlethal force by their employees.

In itself, promulgation of rules does not suffice to control misconduct. Indeed, both the ambiguity of the rules and the presence of unofficial rules in conflict with the official ones could lead to misconduct. Various independent commissions (e.g., Knapp Commission 1972; Mollen Commission 1994; Pennsylvania Crime Commission 1974) recorded examples of police administrators creating unofficial rules which trumped the official ones (Kutnjak Ivkovic´ 2005). Empirical research suggests that police officers in the police agencies characterized as corrupt were more likely to say that the rules were not clear than the police officers employed in the police agencies relatively free of corruption were.

Empirical studies (e.g., Fyfe 1979) report the reduction in the use-of-deadly-force incidents in the aftermath of the introduction of the more restrictive use-of-deadly-force rules. The administrative regulation of the high-speed pursuits seems to be directly related to the frequency with which officers engage in high-speed pursuits. For example, the introduction of a more restrictive policy of high-speed pursuits in the Metro-Dade Police Department substantially reduced its number of pursuits. By contrast, the introduction of a more relaxed policy of high-speed pursuits in the Omaha Police Department resulted in a dramatic increase of the number of pursuits the next year. The effect of administrative rulemaking on misconduct has been explored in several other areas (e.g., use of force, domestic violence); the evidence therein is more limited and shows less success (National Research Council 2004, p. 285).

2. Police Chief and Administration. The police chief and other highly ranked police administrators are the key to the police agency’s successful misconduct control. The nature of their contributions can span across all aspects of traditional managerial functions such as planning, organizing, coordinating, and controlling.

Although what police chiefs and highly ranked administrators may do could be limited by the mayor and other politicians, the public, media, and police unions as well as by the legal statutes, laws, court cases, and civil service rules, “[the police chiefs] may exert a substantial influence on the recruitment standards, training in ethics, leadership and management style, supervisory accountability and standards, internal control mechanisms, discipline, and rewards” (Kutnjak Ivkovic´ 2005, p. 70). Independent commissions (e.g., Christopher Commission 1991; Knapp Commission 1972; Mollen Commission 1994; Pennsylvania Crime Commission 1974) provide examples of police administrators’ failure to perform these functions and adhere to the expected standards by turning a blind eye to police misconduct.

If in contradiction with the official rules, the police chief’s actual behavior sends a clear message to the police officers (see, e.g., Knapp Commission 1972, pp. 170–171). The majority of the police officers participating in a 2,000 nationwide survey agreed that “a chief’s strong position against the abuse of authority can make a big difference in deterring officers from abusing their authority” (Weisburd et al. 2000, p. 6).

3. Supervisors. While police chief and the highly ranked police administrators deal with the general issues potentially affecting the whole police agency, first-line supervisors are required to oversee their subordinates. Specifically, they are expected to monitor police officers under their command, review their reports, advise police officers when their performance is less than satisfactory, and file a report when they are aware that police officers had violated the rules (Walker and Katz 2008, p 482). As the overwhelming majority of the respondents (90 %) participating in a nationwide survey of police officers agreed, supervisors’ role in preventing misconduct is crucial (Weisburd et al. 2000, p. 6).

Independent commissions that investigated police misconduct in the 1960s/1970s documented cases of supervisors actively taking part in police misconduct (e.g., Knapp Commission 1972; Pennsylvania Crime Commission 1974). More recent independent commissions (e.g., Christopher Commission 1991; Mollen Commission 1994) tended to be more likely to find supervisors turning “a blind eye” or failing to take a stance on police misconduct. The Mollen Commission documented that Michael Dowd (a former NYPD police officer who stole money and drugs, participated in larger drug rings, became a drug dealer, and was eventually caught, tried, and sentenced to 14 years in prison), received glowing performance evaluations from his supervisors who even recommended him as “a role model” for other police officers (Mollen Commission1994, p. 118). The Mollen Commission further found that supervisors in the NYPD regularly failed to review the search and seizure forms, arrest forms (p. 29), and overtime payment forms (p. 39) and question line officers under their supervision who were falsifying these forms. Similarly, the Christopher Commission (1991) concluded that the LAPD supervisors omitted to monitor the subordinates’ racist discussion on the MDT. In the aftermath of the Rampart Division scandal, the LAPD’s Board of Inquiry documented failures in the supervisors and wrote that “the practice of officers printing or signing a sergeant’s name to booking approvals and arrest reports was a particularly glaring illustration of poor CRASH supervision” (Los Angeles Police Department 2000, p. 61).

Independent commissions (e.g., Christopher Commission 1991; Los Angeles Police Department 2000; Knapp Commission 1972; Mollen Commission 1994) reported that supervisors in these police agencies not only were overlooking line officer misconduct, but also were not held accountable by the police chief and the highly ranked police administrators for their failure to supervise. In fact, the Mollen Commission (1994) concluded that the supervisors who were proactive and actually reported misconduct of their subordinates suffered informal punishment for their proper conduct.

Since 1994, CompStat (Computer Statistics) has been used not only as a mechanism to reduce crime rates, but also as a mechanism to increase supervisor accountability. Developed by Bill Bratton and his top administrators in the NYPD, CompStat centers around regular meetings in which the top administrators require of middle managers to discuss crime problems in their areas and hold them accountable for its success or failure in dealing with the problems. CompStat became an instant hit and by 1999, one-quarter of the sample of police agencies with 100 or more employees have already implemented CompStat, and an additional one-third planned to do so in the future (Weisburd et al. 2003). However, the concept of accountability, as envisioned by CompStat, relates to the changes in the crime levels and does not extend to the control of rule-violating behavior of the subordinates. Moreover, whereas CompStat could operate as an accountability mechanism for the middle managers who participate in the CompStat meetings (e.g., Silverman 1999), it does not operate as an accountability mechanism for first-line supervisors who do not participate in the CompStat meetings (National Research Council 2004, p. 188).

4. Internal System of Control. Each police agency has a separate system set up within the agency to investigate allegations of police misconduct. Depending on the police agency size, overall public service demands, available resources, and number of complaints, the internal system of control can vary from a single police investigator assigned on the case-by-case basis to an elaborate network of police investigators housed in the main office and additional field offices. According to the 2,000 LEMAS, the majority of local police agencies (79 %) and state police agencies (84 %) had separate, permanent internal affairs offices. These internal affairs offices are traditionally directly accountable to the police chief.

The primary purpose of the internal affairs unit is fact-finding, while some other unit or individual (e.g., immediate supervisors, a board, citizen review) makes the decision about the case. The work of the internal affairs units could be classified as either reactive (e.g., investigation initiated by a complaint) or proactive (e.g., integrity tests). In reality, proactive investigations are more of an exception than the rule (Kutnjak Ivkovic´ 2005).

The official procedure typically starts with the filing of a complaint by a citizen or a police officer, or with the submission of a report by a supervisor. During the investigation, the police investigators collect and examine physical evidence, interview witnesses, analyze records, and interview the accused police officer. As a consequence of the Garrity ruling (Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 483 (1967)), police agencies separate investigations into a criminal investigation and an administrative investigation. In the administrative investigation, the accused police officer is not allowed to claim the Fifth Amendment privileges and is ordered to answer the questions truthfully. At the end of the investigation, the police investigator completes the report and turns over the evidence to the decision-making body. The disposition of the complaint is made either by the police officer’s chain of command review or by an administrative board through a disciplinary hearing. The nature of the hearing (e.g., adversarial) and the rules regulating it vary greatly across agencies. When the complaint is found sustained (i.e., there is sufficient evidence to prove that the police officer engaged in the rule-violating behavior), the decision-making body will mete out discipline. The severity of the discipline likely depends on the seriousness of violation, aggravating and mitigating circumstances, and the police officers’ prior history.

Complaint rates vary greatly across the cities; Pate and Hamilton compared the complaint rates per 100 sworn officers across the six largest police agencies (1991, p. 144) and reported variation in the complaint rates from 5.5 in Philadelphia to 36.9 in Houston. A 2002 survey of large local and state police agencies shows that the rates for the use of force complaints varied from 1.3 for the state agencies to 9.5 for municipal agencies (Hickman 2006, p. 2). Typically, police agencies sustain between 0 % and 25 % of all complaints (Dugan and Breda 1991; Hickman 2006, p. 4; Pate and Fridell 1993, p. 42; Perez 1994), with 8–10 % being typical or average (e.g., Pate and Fridell 1993; Hickman 2006).

It seems that complaint rates are influenced by so many factors other than the actual rate of misconduct that these rates likely can tell more about the agency’s openness to complaints, the ease with which citizens could file complaints, and the level of legitimacy of the police, than about the actual level of misconduct. Wide differentials of complaint rates across the cities prompted scholars to recommend extreme caution in cross-agency comparisons (e.g., Hickman 2006; Klockars et al. 2006; Pate and Hamilton 1991; Perez 1994; Walker 2001).

Having the system of internal control put in place does not guarantee that it will operate properly. Research studies and reports by independent commissions (e.g., Christopher Commission 1991; Knapp Commission 1972; Mollen Commission 1994; Pennsylvania Crime Commission 1974) documented many failures, from not establishing written guidelines and providing resources and manpower to the internal affairs units, to failing to investigate complaints, ignoring information, and openly hiding complaints (see, e.g., Christopher Commission 1991; Knapp Commission 1972; Mollen Commission 1994; Pennsylvania Crime Commission).

Early warning systems have recently been added to the internal system of control in a number of police agencies. Early warning systems are proactive in nature. Police agencies collect information about individual police officers, such as use of force reports, accident reports, complaints, financial records, and other information (see, e.g., Walker et al. 2000; Walker and Katz 2008). Once a police officer has a certain number of these items (e.g., sustained complaints), red flags are raised. The police agency engages in an intervention (typically informal counseling by the supervisor or retraining) and post-intervention (monitoring the police officer for a certain period of time; Walker et al. 2000). The idea behind the early warning systems rests on the premise that if potential problems are spotted and addressed early, they would not become serious problems later. The limited empirical research (e.g., Walker et al. 2000) implies that the early warning systems might be effective in terms of reducing the number of use of force reports and citizen complaints by the officers subject to early warning systems.

External Mechanisms Of Control And Accountability

A number of institutions an organizations housed outside of the police agency take part in the control of police misconduct.

1. Legislature. The role of the legislature, both at the federal and state level, is to enact the laws that criminalize police misconduct and/ or establish civil liability for police misconduct. First, the rules of various federal and state criminal statutes (e.g., criminalization of theft, assault, murder), enacted by the legislature, could be applied to every citizen, including police officers, unless the police officers can successfully claim that they performed the activity as part of their legitimate police work.

Second, federal and state codes also establish certain crimes which only public officials can commit (e.g., bribery of public officials and witnesses, Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 201, 1999; extortion by public officials, Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 872, 1999; deprivation of civil rights, Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 242, 1999). The legislation includes such acts as the Hobbs Act (Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 1951, 1999) and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO; Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Sections 1961–1968, 1999). The advantage of RICO relative to other penal codes is the possibility to prosecute for a “pattern of racketeering activity” (Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 1961, 1999) and, therefore, to present the picture of systematic exploitation of the official position, instead of being forced to prosecute each and every act separately.

Third, federal and state statutes also establish the grounds for civil liability for deprivation of civil rights (e.g., deprivation of civil rights, Title 42 of the U.S. Code, Section 1983; conspiracy to interfere with civil rights, Title 42 of the U.S. Code, Section 1985).

Fourth, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (Title 42 of the U.S. Code, 1994) authorizes the Attorney General to collect the data about the use of excessive force by the police officers and publish the summary. Consequently, the Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Institute of Justice started sponsoring the national police use of force database, collected by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the police public contact survey, as well as expanded the LEMAS survey to collect the data on formal citizen complaints about the use of force (Hickman 2006).

One of the problems with the legal codes is that the rules are vague and open for ambiguous interpretations. The Knapp Commission reported that in the 1970s, the rules governing the operation of bars were sound in principle, but were “so vague and ill-defined that they lend themselves to abuses in practice” (Knapp Commission 1972, pp. 147–148). Furthermore, the rules could be difficult to enforce. In the words of Patrick Murphy, a former Commissioner of the NYPD (Pennsylvania Crime Commission 1974, p. 420), “[b]y charging our police with the responsibility to enforce the unenforceable, we subject them to disrespect and corruptive influences, and we provide the organized criminal syndicate with illicit industries upon which they thrive.”

However, once the legal codes are enacted, the crucial question is whether they are enforced (see Criminal Courts; Civil Courts).

2. Prosecutors and Criminal Courts. The criminal justice system enforces the laws enacted by the legislature and provides the boundaries of police officers’ acceptable/unacceptable behavior by holding them criminally responsible for police misconduct. Like other citizens, police officers could be tried for “traditional crimes” like robbery, assault, or theft. In addition, unlike other citizens, police officers are public servants and could also be prosecuted, tried, and convicted for crimes that require that the person who committed the crime is a public employee (e.g., extortion, 18 U.S.C. 1951; criminal liability for deprivation of civil rights, 18 U.S.C. 242).

There is no systematic database, either at the federal or the state level, that contains the data about all prosecutions and convictions for police misconduct. At the federal level, there were fewer than 50 convictions each year for law enforcement corruption in the period from 1992 to 1998 (Kutnjak Ivkovic´ 2005, p. 59), At the state level, the convictions are almost equally sparse and seemingly suggest that corruption is not a problem. However, the findings by the independent commissions contradict these reports. The Knapp Commission (1972) reported that corruption in the NYPD was widespread, ranging all the way to the rank of a captain. Yet, the prosecutors initiated the prosecution in only about 30 cases per year. Furthermore, severe sentences are unlikely; only one out of five police officers prosecuted, tried, and convicted received a prison sentence of more than a year (Knapp Commission 1972, p. 252). The Pennsylvania Crime Commission (1974), which investigated the extent and nature of corruption in the Philadelphia Police Department and found widespread corruption in the agency, reported that there were on average only seven arrests per year for corruption (Pennsylvania Crime Commission 1974, p. 446). The data also suggest that criminal prosecutions for the use of excessive force, either federal or state, are rare (e.g., Cheh 1995, p. 241; Human Rights Watch 1998) and that the conviction rates are low. Out of about 8,000 police misconduct complaints that the Department of Justice receives annually (Cheh 1995, p. 241), about 3,000 are investigated and only 50 presented to the grand jury.

3. Civil Courts. Civil courts enforce the laws enacted by the legislature and provide the boundaries of acceptable/unacceptable behavior by holding police officers, police departments, and city administrators civilly liable for police misconduct. Compared to the number of contacts between the police and citizens, civil lawsuits are rare. Yet, the amounts paid to the successful plaintiffs vary across the country, from an average of 1.6 million annually in Cincinnati to an average of 35.8 million annually in Los Angeles (Kappeler 2006, p. 10).

The legal basis for the civil lawsuit against the police could be found in both the federal codes and the state codes. Section 1983 lawsuit (Title 42 U.S. Code 1983) is considered a crucial tool in the fight against police misconduct. In Monroe v. Pape (365 U.S. 167 [1961]), the Supreme Court determined that police officers could be held liable for deprivation of the 4th Amendments rights under the civil rights statute. In Monell v. Department of Social Services (436 U.S. 658 [1978]), the Supreme Court established that municipalities could be held liable for police misconduct if it was pursuant to the agency’s policy or custom. Thus, these two decisions allowed citizens to sue both individual police officers and police departments, and according to the estimates, the number of the Section 1983 lawsuits increased dramatically since the 1960s (Cheh 1995, p. 250).

As a consequence of the Supreme Court decision in Lyons (City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95 [1983]), citizens can obtain only compensatory and punitive damages (Cheh, 1995, p. 255). The effect of civil lawsuits on individual police officers is limited; the compensatory damages (and sometimes punitive damages) resulting from the lawsuit are typically covered by the city government. The effect of civil lawsuits on the police agencies is limited as well. Empirical research covering several jurisdictions shows minimal effect on police agencies. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department seems to be an exception from this rule; in 1993, the Office of the Special Counsel – a form of citizen review – was established to investigate problems, recommend reforms, and reduce the costs of litigation. The reports imply positive changes.

The situation has changed with the enactment of the 1994 Violent Crime Control Act (42 U.S.C. 14141, 1994), which has authorized the Department of Justice to act as a plaintiff and sue a police department when there is “… a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers … that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution.” The most recent data available by the Department of Justice (January 31, 2003) indicate that the investigation of 14 police agencies is ongoing, that, out of the 10 lawsuits, 4 ended with consent decrees and 6 with out-of-court settlements (Department of Justice 2010). The settlements or consent decrees require of the police agencies to engage in systematic and widespread reforms of the police agency, such as revising the use of force reporting system, establishing the early warning system, revising the complaint procedures, and improving training. In addition, each police agency is assigned a court-appointed monitor to ensure the implementation of these changes. Existing research did not examine the overall effect of these “pattern or practice” lawsuits on police agencies. The Vera Institute, serving as a monitor for the Pittsburgh Police Department, generally reports that the police are on track with the required changes (Vera Institute of Justice 2002). On the other hand, the reports concerning police agencies in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. indicate that they failed to meet some of the deadlines (Walker and Katz 2008, p. 503).

4. The Supreme Court. The chances that the Supreme Court will hear any particular case are miniscule (the Supreme Court grants certiorari in less than 5 % of the cases filed). Compared to the lower-ranked trial courts, the Supreme Court, as the highest court of the country, has a wider role to play. The effect of its decisions is far reaching, well beyond the specific case under consideration. Thus, by establishing a nationwide precedent for future court cases, the Supreme Court performs not only a reactive role, but also a potentially even more important, preventive role.

The relevant Supreme Court cases regulate proper conduct (e.g., the Fifth Amendment warnings given to the arrestees, as was decided in Miranda v. Arizona (372 U.S. 436 [1966])), as well as police misconduct (e.g., exclusion of illegally obtained evidence, as was decided in Mapp v. Ohio (367 U.S. 643 [1961]). The cases may focus on substantive law (e.g., sentencing for the violation of King’s constitutional rights under color of law, as was decided in Koon v. United States (518 U.S. 81 [1996])) or procedural law (e.g., prohibition of a denial of the Fifth Amendment rights to a police officer during a criminal case, as was determined in Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 483 (1967)).

Empirical research typically explores the influence of a specific landmark decision on police officer behavior. One such decision is Miranda v. Arizona (372 U.S. 436 [1966]), in which the Supreme Court held that a confession obtained during custodial police interrogation constitutes a violation of the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination, unless the police provided specific warnings to the persons that they have the right to remain silent, that anything they say could be used against them, and that they have the right to counsel. The Miranda warnings have been routinely publicized in TV shows and motion pictures and have become a part of the American popular culture (see, e.g., Dickerson v. United States, 530 U.S. 428 [2000]). The early research, already in progress when the Miranda decision was made, suggested that police officers rarely gave Miranda warnings. Later studies (Leo 1998) showed that the warning was issued routinely, but the style in which the warning was issued tended to be superficial. The most recent study (Leo 1998), relying on direct observation, confirmed that the police issued the Miranda warnings in about 96 % of the cases and thus showed that the Miranda decision has had a long-term effect on police behavior.

5. Independent Commissions. Independent commissions are established in the aftermath of a critical incident which resulted in a scandal (e.g., the Christopher Commission was established in the aftermath of the worldwide airing of the Rodney King beating tape; the Mollen Commission was established in the aftermath of the arrest of six police officers). The political pressure created pushes the mayor or the city manager to create the commission, composed of prominent community members and potentially policing scholars, with the purposes of investigating the nature and extent of police misconduct and proposing recommendations for the changes in the police agency. Prominent examples of independent commissions include the President’s Crime Commission (1967), Knapp Commission (1972), and Pennsylvania Crime Commission (1974).

The work of independent commissions has the potential to reach beyond the individual case; they are in a position to establish the standards that could affect the way policing is done across the country (see, e.g., National Research Council 2004; Walker and Katz 2008). Yet, independent commissions are temporary and have no power to enforce their own recommendations (e.g., Kutnjak Ivkovic´ 2005; National Research Council 2004; Walker and Katz 2008). For example, although one of the recommendations by the Christopher Commission (1991) was the establishment of an early warning system in the LAPD, more than a decade later, the LAPD did not have the early warning system put in place (Walker 2005, p. 179). Furthermore, the work of independent commissions could be severely affected by the lack of political independence (e.g., Pennsylvania Crime Commission 1974), insufficient legal authority (e.g., Knapp Commission 1972, p. 44), and inadequate resources (e.g., Pennsylvania Crime Commission 1974, p. 762).

Mixed Mechanisms Of Control And Accountability

The mixed mechanisms of control and accountability share some characteristics of external mechanisms (e.g., housed outside of the police agency) and some characteristics of internal mechanisms (e.g., have police officers as members).

1. Citizen Reviews. Citizen reviews are established with the purpose of providing an independent review of citizen complaints. Yet, empirical research suggests that about 23 % (15 out of 65) of citizen reviews have police officers as members (Walker and Kreisel 2001). This idea is not new; although it was first developed in the 1960s, the majority of the existing citizen reviews were established in the last two decades (e.g., Walker 2005). Walker (2001, p. 6) claims that by 2,000, “[o]ver 100 different agencies exist, covering law enforcement agencies that serve nearly one-third of the American population, and they are found in about 80 % of the big cities of this country.”

Walker has classified citizen reviews based on functions they perform (Walker 2001). Only about 34 % of citizen reviews conduct the initial fact-finding completely independently from the police (Class I citizen review; Walker 2001). An additional 46 % provide input in the police investigation (Class II citizen input; Walker 2001; Walker and Kreisel 2001), and 17 % perform the function of the appellate review once the police investigation is completed (Class III citizen monitors). Lastly, Class IV citizen reviews (“citizen auditors”), which constitute only 3 % of the citizen reviews, “do not investigate individual complaints, but are authorized to review, monitor, or audit the police department’s complaint process” (Walker 2001, p. 62).

The focus of Class I to Class III citizen reviews is on individual cases. Even when they go beyond the single case and engage in the policy review as well, their work is bound by the issues raised in the cases. On the other hand, Class IV citizen reviews, which are authorized to review and monitor the police agency’s own complaint system, have a greater potential to provide meaningful feedback to the police agency. The San Jose Police Auditor and the Special Counsel to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are evaluated in the literature as more successful auditors, while the Seattle Police Auditor and the Albuquerque Independent Counsel are evaluated as the less successful (Walker 2005, pp. 165–166).

Empirical research exploring the effectiveness of citizen reviews is limited. Whereas Kerstetter and Rasinski (1994) report that the level of public confidence in the complaint process should increase with the establishment of a citizen review, Sviridoff and McElroy (1989) find that both citizens and the police officers were unhappy with the New York City Civilian Review Board and thought that the board was biased against them. Another avenue of research tried to compare the citizen review outcomes in individual cases with the outcomes of individual cases decided by the police agency itself. A serious challenge with this type of empirical research is finding matching cases. Hudson (1972) compared the work of a citizen review (“Police Advisory Board,” which has subsequently been abolished) with the police investigation in Philadelphia and concluded that the citizen review sustained a lower percentage of complaints than the internal affairs unit did. However, the types of the cases handled by two institutions were not similar.

2. CALEA. The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), established in 1979, is an independent agency housed outside of the police. It is composed of 11 police officers and 10 community members (e.g., judges, professors, politicians). Its primary task is to serve as a source of self-regulation for the police.

CALEA publishes standards and model official rules. Some of the rules and standards are required for police agencies seeking CALEA accreditation, while others are only recommended. For example, CALEA now requires the early warning systems for accreditation (CALEA 2006). As of September 2009, CALEA has 463 standards (CALEA 2010). The estimates are that about 500 police agencies have been accredited by 2008 (Walker and Katz 2008, p. 492).

Participation in the CALEA accreditation program is voluntary. The drawback of this approach is that the police agencies in greatest need to change the official rules (e.g., characterized by widespread corruption) are the least likely to do so following CALEA standards. Furthermore, the CALEA standards provide just the minimum standards and do not even try to assess the optimal or ideal standards (Walker and Katz 2008, p. 494).

Empirical research on the influence on CALEA accreditation on misconduct and accountability in the police agencies is very limited. Walker and Katz (Walker and Katz 2008, p. 493) provide examples of how accreditation reduced insurance costs, enhanced the use of force reporting, and improved procedures for juveniles in several agencies.


  1. Barker T, Wells RO (1982) Police administrator0 s attitudes toward definition and control of police deviance. FBI Law Enforc Bull 51:8–16
  2. CALEA Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (2006). Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies. Fairfax, VA: CALEA
  3. CALEA Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (2010). Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies. Fairfax, VA: CALEA
  4. Cheh MM (1995) Are law suits an answer to police brutality? In: Geller WA, Hans T (eds) And justice for all. Police Executive Research Forum, Washington, DC, pp 233–259
  5. [Christopher Commission]. Independent commission on the Los Angeles Police Department (1991). Report of the independent commission on the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles, Author
  6. Department of Justice (2010). FAQ. http://www.justice. gov/crt/split/faq.php#primsource
  7. Dugan JR, Breda DR (1991) Complaints about police officers: a comparison among types and agencies. J Crim Justice 19(2):165–172
  8. Fyfe JJ (1979) Administrative interventions on police shooting discretion: an empirical examination. J Crim Justice 7:303–323
  9. Hickman, M. J. (2006). Citizen complaints about police use of force, Washington, D.C, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Available at pub/pdf/ccpuf.pdf
  10. Hudson J (1972) Organizational aspects of internal and external review of the police. J Crim Law, Criminol Police Sci 63:427–432
  11. Human Rights Watch (1998) Shielded from justice: police brutality and accountability in the United States. Human Rights Watch, New York
  12. Kappeler VE (2006) Police civil liability, 2nd edn. Waveland Press, Long Grove
  13. Kerstetter WA, Rasinski KA (1994) Opening a window into police internal affairs: impact of procedural justice reform on third-party attitudes. Soc Justice Res 7(2):107–127
  14. Klockars CB, Kutnjak Ivkovic´ S, Haberfeld MR (2006) Enhancing police integrity. Springer, Dordrecht [Knapp Commission] Commission to investigate allegations of police corruption and the city’s anti-corruption procedures (1972). Report on Police Corruption. New York, G. Braziller
  15. Kutnjak Ivkovic´ S (2005) Fallen blue knights: controlling police corruption. Oxford University Press, New York
  16. Leo RA (1998) The impact of miranda revisited. In: Leo RA, Thomas GC (eds) The miranda debate: law, justice, and policing. Northeastern University Press, Boston
  17. Los Angeles Police Department (2000). Board of inquiry into the rampart area corruption incident: executive summary.
  18. [Mollen Commission] New York city commission to investigate allegations of police corruption and the anti-corruption procedures of the police department (1994). Commission Report. Author, New York
  19. National Research Council (2004). Fairness and effective-
  20. ness in policing: the evidence. committee to review research on police policy and practices. Wesley Skogan and Kathleen Frydl, editors. Committee on law and justice, division of behavioral and social sciences and education. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC
  21. Pate AM, Hamilton HE (1991) The big six: policing America’s largest cities. Police Foundation, Washington, DC
  22. Pate A, Fridell L (1993) Police use of force: official reports, citizen complaints, and legal consequences. Police Foundation, Washington, DC
  23. Pennsylvania Crime Commission (1974) Report on police corruption and the quality of law enforcement in Philadelphia. Author, Saint Davids: PA
  24. Perez DW (1994) Common sense about police review. Temple University Press, Philadelphia
  25. Silverman EB (1999) NYPD battles crime: innovative strategies in policing. Northeastern University Press, Boston
  26. Sviridoff M, McElro JE (1989) Processing complaints against police in New York city. Vera Institute of Justice, New York
  27. Vera Institute of Justice (2002). “Pittsburgh’s experience with police monitoring.” project1_1asp?section_id¼2&proejct_id¼13
  28. Walker S (2001) Police accountability: the role of citizen oversight. Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont
  29. Walker S (2005) The new world of police accountability. Sage Publications, Newbury Park
  30. Walker S, Alpert G, Kenney D (2000) Responding to the problem officer: a national evaluation of early warning systems. National Institute of Justice, Washington, DC
  31. Walker S, Katz CM (2008) The police in America: an introduction, 6th edn. McGraw-Hill, Boston
  32. Walker Samuel, Betsy Wright Kreisel (2001). Varieties of citizen review. In: Roger G Dunham, Alpert G (ed) Critical issues in policing,4th edn. Waveland Press, Prospect Heights, IL, pp 338–355
  33. Weisburd David, Rosann Greenspan, Edwin E. Hamilton, Hubert Williams, Kellie A. Bryant (2000) Police attitudes toward abuse of authority: findings from a national survey. Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, Research in Brief.
  34. Weisburd D, Mastrofski SD, McNally AM, Greenspan R, Willis JJ (2003) Reforming to preserve: compstat and strategic problem-solving in American policing. Criminol Public Policy 2:421–456

See also:

Free research papers are not written to satisfy your specific instructions. You can use our professional writing services to buy a custom research paper on any topic and get your high quality paper at affordable price.


Always on-time


100% Confidentiality
Special offer! Get discount 10% for the first order. Promo code: cd1a428655