In this essay I have chosen two articles, both related to the same story, involving police brutality in East Haven, CT (Applebome, 2012). At first this might seem a bit inappropriate, as the textbook reading (Chapter 8 of Ethics in Practice: Guidelines) is aimed at law enforcement interns, and the articles are about experienced white cops on the beat and their Chief versus a growing immigrant community. However, I think there is a way that the differing sources are about the same thing, because they deal with essentially the same kind of people: newcomers.
The textbook readings relate incidences involving misbehavior by both members of the police and interns. Examples include ticket fixing, violence towards arrestees, goldbricking, etc. — all the ailments that afflict nearly any police department. In response to these temptations, the intern is told that Sharing your feelings with other workers, field supervisors, fellow interns, and your faculty supervisor can help you through this difficult period. There is one concrete example given, however, that is directly comparable to the newspaper articles: Abner Louima of NYC.
My capsule-thesis here is that the Latinos in East Haven are, in a sense, interns themselves, except they are interns in American culture, a culture arguably as alien to some of them as a police department would be to a fresh young intern. Concerned members of the Latino immigrant community finally went to their local church, St. Rose of Lima. Two pastors there, James Manship Angel and Fernandez-Chavero, listened and acted.
There is another interesting parallel. Neither the textbook nor the articles dealt with top down corruption. In the latter, the bottom wasn’t acting at the behest of the top. Instead, the top was evidently using the “blue wall of silence” to protect a gang of rogue cops on the street.
In the textbook (on page 87), there are a list of seven situations for interns to be wary of, from acceptance of free meals to misuse of office computers. In the articles, the police are acting on their own initiative, and their actions were (allegedly) covered up by the Chief of Police Leonard Gallo (and perhaps, at one remove, Mayor Maturo). But both sources share a common thread: the absence of quotas. Quotas are almost a defining stigmata of systemic (top-down) police corruption. In the textbook, corruption is limited to The misuse of one’s official role to obtain personal gain. Professional gain is left unmentioned. There are no instructions on how to act when confronted with fulfilling quotas (or watching experienced cops dishonestly try to fulfill them). It’s as if they don’t exist, or must be dealt with at another level of thinking outside the bounds of the manual. As for the East Haven police, they surely had no racial quota to fill — it is charged that they routinely described driving-offenders as black or white, not “Hispanic.” (The two terms Hispanic and Latino are used somewhat interchangeably, a common practice.)
So we can see that a whole world of corruption is missing from both sources. But what of the case of Abner Louima, in New York? That city’s police department has long used quotas, and was allegedly still using them as of November 2011 (Rashbaum, 2011). But East Haven appears not to have (so far) been guilty of the systemic use of arrest-quotas. So we have, in East Haven, bottom-up corruption (violence and coverups). But in New York City, we have both forms: top-down (quotas), and bottom-up (violence and coverups). What the textbook needs is a wider definition of corruption. It might be amended as follows:
The administration of justice can sometimes be weakened by new ethical standards and personnel who are willing to abide by them.
Quotas were the new ethical standard. Too many were willing to abide by them.
Applebome, P. (2012). “Police Gang Tyrannized Latinos, Indictment Says.” New York Times.
Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/03/nyregion/in-east-haven-hispanic-residentlice%2s-stories-led-to-bias-charges.html?pagewanted= 1&sq=po0gang%20tyrannized&st =cse&scp=2
Applebome, P. (2012). “Behind Arrest of 4 Officers, Latinos Who Took a Stand.” New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/25/nyregion/connecticut- police-officers-accused-of-mistreating-latinos.html?pagewanted=1&_r= 1&sq=police%20gang%20 tyrannized&st=cse&scp=1
Rashbaum, W., Goldstein, J. Baker, Al. (2011). “Experts Say N.Y. Police Dept. Isn’t Policing Itself.” New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/03/ nyregion/experts-say-ny-police-dept-isnt-policing-itself.html?pagewanted=all