police corruption | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Policing

Police corruption involves illegal practices by police officers that violate their oath of office and undermine public trust.

Understanding Police Corruption

Police corruption is a major issue in the field of criminal justice. To put it simply, it happens when a police officer breaks the law instead of enforcing it. After all, they might accept bribes, use unnecessary force, or even engage in criminal activities themselves. This behavior is not only illegal, but also it harms the reputation of the police and reduces public trust.

Types of Police Corruption

There are many forms of it, and understanding them can help us recognize and prevent them. Whether it’s accepting bribes in return for lenient treatment or “noble cause” corruption, where rules are bent for what the officer believes is a good cause, all forms of corruption harm the integrity of the law enforcement system.

Causes of Police Corruption

Several factors contribute to this. For instance, low wages might tempt officers to accept bribes. Additionally, a lack of strict regulations and oversight could encourage corrupt behavior. If we want to reduce corruption, we must first understand its causes.

The Effects of Police Corruption

This can have serious effects on society. Above all, it undermines public trust in the police. When people don’t trust the police, they are less likely to report crimes or cooperate with investigations. Not only does this make it harder to solve crimes, but also it can lead to an increase in crime rates.

Fighting Police Corruption

To combat this, we need a multifaceted approach. Firstly, law enforcement agencies should enforce strict rules and penalties for corrupt behavior. Secondly, they should encourage transparency and accountability. After that, providing adequate salaries and benefits can help to deter officers from corrupt practices. Additionally, the public should be educated about their rights and how to report corruption.

Role of the Community in Combating Police Corruption

The community plays an essential role in the fight against police corruption. Both citizens and law enforcement officers should work together to create a culture of integrity and respect. Afterward, community members can help by reporting any suspected corrupt activities to the appropriate authorities.


Various measures have been taken to combat police corruption. For example, some police departments have established internal affairs units to investigate reports of corruption. Also, there are hotlines that citizens can call to report corruption anonymously. These measures show that with effort and determination, police corruption can be tackled effectively.

All in all, this is a serious problem that needs our attention. By understanding its causes and effects and by working together, we can strive to eliminate this issue and build a more just and equitable society.

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Last Modified: 07/26/2023

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