Topic:My reaction after reading “A study of the impact of threeleadership styles on integrity violations committed by policeofficers”
Myreaction after reading “A study of the impact of three leadershipstyles on integrity violations committed by police officers”
Thearticle deals with how different leadership qualities affect theintegrity and behaviors of police officers. This is an area I findinteresting because in the past few years there have been numerousnews reports touching on professional misconduct by police officersin different states of the US. This and many other similar incidentsled me to question the police officers’ professional approach tothe manner in which they execute their mandate. Ultimately I came tothe conclusion that the police officers’ conduct borrows heavilyfrom the leadership qualities they see in their bosses. The two keyideas I gained from the article were how strictness and role modelingaffect a police officer’s integrity.
How a leader’s strictness affects a police officer’s integrity
Iam in agreement with Hubertsetal.’s (2007) assertion that the three leadership aspects affect thebehaviors of police office officers, and that of these three, thatstrictness has the greatest impact in controlling some of the seriouscases of integrity violations such as fraud, abuse of resources andviolence against suspects and citizens because it serves as adeterrent. I think that if police chiefs across the country becamestricter in ensuring that their police officers became more ethicalin their conduct, and have more integrity, that the cases of abusesand integrity violations by the police will reduce by a significantmargin.
Itis my view that the reason behind the several cases of integrityviolations by officers stems from the fact that members of a policedepartment often view themselves as a family of brothers and sisters.Because of this, the majority of the police officers in a departmentwill not report a fellow police officer to the leadership even whenthey have serious suspicions that their colleagues might havecommitted integrity violations. This phenomenon is referred to as the“blue wall of silence”, and in my opinion is the reason behindwhy the prosecution of police officers suspected of integrityviolations is difficult (Jonsson, 2015). In some cases, a civiliancan complain to a police chief about being abused by an officer, onlyfor the chief to side with the officer without carrying out anyinvestigations into the matter, and thereby propagating the “bluewall of silence” phenomenon even further (Hagedorn, et al., 2013).I think this phenomenon is the major cause of integrity violations inpolice departments across the country.
Agood example that I think perfectly relates to this idea of failingto act on cover-ups within a police department is the famous case ofthe 2007 beating of Karolina Obrycka by Anthony Abbate, who was aChicago police officer. In the incident, Abbate jumped over thecounter at the inn where Karolina worked in, and after beingreprimanded by her about it started to punch and kick her. The entireassault was captured by a surveillance camera. The Chicago policefailed to include two crucial items in their police report afterKarolina reported the incident: the fact that the attacker was anoff-duty Chicago police officer and the use of the surveillance tapeas evidence. By failing to properly investigate the case the ChicagoPolice Department was covering up Abbate’s involvement in thebeating (Sweeney & Meisner, 2012).
Karolinaand her attorneys argued in court that there was an effort by thepolice department (including the high-ranking police officers) tocover up the beating and from the evidence of the surveillance tapeand the communications that occurred between Abbate and otherofficers after the attack. Karolina’s attorneys that Abbateattacked her because he was not scared of the consequences. Theystated that he was thinking that the “blue wall of silence” wasgoing to protect him. The jury ruled in Karolina’s favor, and itawarded her $850,000 as compensatory damages. This incident also ledto Superintendent Philip Cline resigning from his post (Sweeney &Meisner, 2012).
Concurringwith the findings by Hubertsetal. (2007) that strictness can deter integrity violation, it is myview that if a police chief makes it strictly known to his officersthat any incidences of cover-ups of misconduct by fellow officers arepunishable by sanctions, that more police will come forward withinformation on the misconduct, and this will push down instances ofintegrity violation. I think the phenomenon of the “blue wall ofsilence” can only be changed through police chiefs and otherhigh-ranking police officials making it known to their juniors thatthe code of silence will not be tolerated.
How poor role modeling can affect an officer’s integrity standards.
Ialso agree with Hubertsetal.’s (2007)statementthat role modeling is crucial to limiting unethical behaviors.Huberts et al. (2007) further state that employees are more likely toemulate a role model’s or leader’s integrity standards in themanner that they interact with one another from day to day. I believethat these emulated integrity standards not only apply to apolice-to-police setting but also to a police-to-civilian setting.Because of this, I think that any misconduct by police officers inthe execution of their duties can be attributed to their role model’sintegrity standards. This view is shared by Dempsey and Forst whostate that any accomplishments brought about by police officers arethe result of both the police officers and their chiefs andcommissioners, and that any failures by the police officers are oftenthe result of a lack of proper leadership on the part of thoseheading police departments (Dempsey & Forst, 2013).
Aprominent case that depicts this idea of police officers emulatingtheir role models’ low integrity standards came to light after the2014 Ferguson riots. These riots were set off by the shooting ofMichael Brown on 9thAugust 2014. After the shooting, many members of Ferguson’sAfrican-American population took to the streets to protest years ofharassments and abuses they had faced at the hands of the city’slargely white police force (Apuzzo & Eligon, 2015).
Theriots brought the world’s attention to the manner in which theFerguson police grossly violated the Constitution by mainly targetingthe African-American population in many law enforcement actions.African-American drivers in Ferguson accounted for 85% of the driversstopped by traffic police in the city, and African-Americansaccounted for 95% of petty offenses in the city (Apuzzo & Eligon,2015).
Followingthe riots, the Justice Department initiated investigations toascertain the reasons behind this racial bias against the city’sAfrican-American population. In 2015 it issued a report that faultedthe Ferguson Police Department for several constitutional violations(Apuzzo & Eligon, 2015). The police officers would randomly stoppeople who were walking on the street and then demand that theyproduce their identification with no probable cause. An officerintimated to the Justice Department that he would arrest those whodeclined to show their identification documents (Apuzzo & Eligon,2015).
Incases where people questioned the police officers unconstitutionalorders or refused to comply with them, the police would respond withexcessive force. The officers would use stun guns, even in caseswhere there was no threat to them. The Justice Department found thatthe officers were encouraged by their supervisors to act in thismanner. The officers’ supervisors told them that resistance in anyform or level justified any level of force. By issuing suchstatements the supervisors became poor role models to the officers(Apuzzo & Eligon, 2015).
Inmy view, the Ferguson police officers emulated their role models’low integrity standards. Everything they did was sanctioned by thesupervisors. I think that the leaders in the city’s policedepartment abused their positions by instilling in their officers aculture that did not prioritize service delivery to the civilians,instead it view the civilians as a money-maker (Apuzzo & Eligon,2015).
Properleadership by a police department’s leaders is crucial to theconduct of its police officers. The leadership is at the helm of thedepartment so that it can effectively use the available resources(including the police officers) to further the citizens’ interestsresiding within its jurisdiction in terms of providing adequatesecurity and investigating any cases they bring forward. The leadershave the task of becoming good role models to their junior officers.They should set a good example by maintaining high integritystandards (no corruption, no cover-ups, treating civilians andsuspects with dignity and respect, and avoiding conflicts ofinterest). In cases where there might arise a case of an officerbeing implicated in an integrity violation, the leadership shouldswiftly act and reprimand or sanction the officer, because this willboost the police department’s image in the public and avoidincidents like the ones that befell the Chicago and Ferguson PoliceDepartments.
Apuzzo,M., & Eligon, J. (2015, 3 4). FergusonPolice Tainted by Bias, Justice Department Says.Retrieved from The New York Times:https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/05/us/us-calls-on-ferguson-to-overhaul-criminal-justice-system.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=1
Dempsey,J., & Forst, L. (2013). Organizing the Police Department. In J.Dempsey, & L. Forst, AnIntroduction to Policing(p. 73). Boston: Cengage Learning.
Hagedorn,J., Kmiecik, B., Simpson, D., Gradel, T., Zmuda, M., Savic, I., . . .Chebat, T. (2013). Crime,Corruption and Cover-ups in the Chicago Police Department.Illinois: University of Illinois at Chicago.
Huberts,L., Kaptein, M., & Lasthuizen, K. (2007). A study of the impactof three leadership styles on integrity violations committed bypolice officers.Policing:An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management,30(4), 587-607.
Jonsson,P. (2015, 7 30). Cincinnati shooting tests `blue wall of silence`.TheChristian Science Monitor,p. 3.
Sweeney,A., & Meisner, J. (2012, 11 14). Juryfinds in favor of bartender in cop bar beating case, `Justice wasserved`.Retrieved from Chicago Tribune:http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-11-14/news/chi-verdict-reached-in-cop-bar-beating-case-20121113_1_code-of-silence-policy-karolina-obrycka-chicago-cop-anthony-abbate