Police play an important role of maintaining law and order in the society. The relationship between the police and the society is therefore an important one. There are various ethics and code of conducts governing the police force and which every police officer is required to comply with. However, there has been reported breach of these ethics and code of conducts by the police officers. This has made the members of the public to treat the police with much contempt, suspicion and disrespect. This has necessitated the carrying out of the study to investigate major scandals by the police which have given rise to such phenomenon. It is with this regard that this research paper seeks to identify and analyze the major scandals by the police. Due to the broad nature of the issue of ethics, this paper will concentrate much on the police’s breach of ethics in the drug sector. With this respect, the Boston Police cocaine trafficking scandal will play an imperative role in giving this research paper a good direction.
Police forms part of the executive arm of the government (Flagan & Vaughn, 1996). They are charged with the responsibility of maintaining law and order in the society. This implies that police are responsible in ensuring that the members of the public keep peace and obey the various stipulations of the law of the land. It is imperative to note that police are also subject to the law of the land like any other citizen. The role of police in the society is of significance importance. Worthwhile noting, police usually have a difficult task to fulfill; they deal with criminals who are often armed and this poses imminent danger to their lives. Their tasks have been hardened even more by human rights activists and the law itself by requiring them not to kill armed criminals unless in the most extreme cases. It is rather ironical to expect a police officer to arrest an armed robber, but this is what they undergo. On the contrary, some members of the society thinks that the task of the police is a simple and a straightforward one; just arresting bad people. However, such hypotheses are misconceived given that police have to make difficult moral decisions in their day to day lives. They have to quickly decide on the right action they should take when presented with violation of law. It is imperative to note that matters of law are complex.
The law requires the police to observe certain ethics and code of conducts. In fact any officer going against the stipulations of the law is himself a criminal and a legal action should be maintained against him like any other citizen. In the recent past, there has been rampant violation of code of conducts by many police officers. This has given rise to major scandals in the society. As mentioned herewith, police are under obligation to protect citizens. Paradoxically, they have neglected this role and they have become a threat to the society. Indeed, major killings, torture, and arbitrary arrests done by the police have been recorded. This has given rise to the notion that police are enemy of the society. Due to this, the society has developed less respect to the police. Other scandals like the Boston Police cocaine trafficking scandal, Rampart Scandal and Rodney King incident are a clear indication of how the police have neglected their role.
There are many empirical literatures that reflect on the issue of misconduct on the part of the police. Besides, Rodney King incident, police have been found to compromise ethics in favor of illegal positions. For instance, in USA, almost every city police body has exhibited some form of unethical or illegal conduct. In this case, major incidences are those involving drug trafficking. These include the 1998 report issued by accounting departments in cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, to mention just a few. In this report mega drug related corruption in the police force were disclosed publicly. Moreover, in the 1990s, about half of all the police officers were arrested following an FBI investigation on corruption and drug trafficking. The General Accounting Office (GAO), by issuing a report based on empirical literature found that besides corruption, American police engaged in other criminal activities while on duty. Such activities include: stealing cash, drug or both from drug traffickers, seeking profits from stolen drugs by selling them, conducting searches and seizures in unconstitutional manner, presenting false reports on criminal matters, and providing fake testimony before the courts of law. The report also notes regulation capture; where the regulated becomes the regulator, in the police force. This is through protection of drug smugglers instead of arresting and prosecuting them.
Additionally, in 1995, the GAO reported further misconduct in the police force. In a study conducted in 39 districts, the report charged 10 policemen for stealing huge amount of money from drug dealers, planting drugs on suspects and also breaking into the homesteads of drug dealers in quest to steal drugs and money. A good example would be that of New Orleans where more than 10 police officers were arrested for accepting a bribe worth $100,000 in promise to protect a mega cocaine supply warehouse.
Using the sources mentioned, I will be using these together with statistics from relevant agencies. More specifically, I will be using evidence that has been compiled in the records of Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.). FBI is a police agency in the US that is mandated to investigate over 200 forms of violation of criminal law. The data/evidence used herewith have already been published in the public media and as such, not secretive. In fact, some of the police officers have admitted committing the alleged crimes. I will only use some incidences to support my hypothesis. This is because the instances of engagement of Boston police in drug trafficking are very numerous to be handled in a single research paper. Using the credible evidence, I will generalize my findings and towards the conclusion, suggest possible solutions.
In 2006, FBI arrested three Boston police officer; Carlos, Carrasquillo and Pulido for engaging themselves in drug trafficking in Miami. Besides drug trafficking, the FBI lodged a case against the three police officers for smuggling immigrants to USA illegally, harassing motorists by stealing their identities and later selling them, offering protection to after hour parties where they interacted with prostitutes, drug traffickers and other criminals. The primary charge was however that of drug trafficking. The three had negotiated a $ 50,000 where they had already been paid $ 35,000 as a down payment. In return the police officers would offer protection to truckloads transporting hundreds of thousands kilos of cocaine to Boston. Other officials in the police force and Pulido (one of the suspect) himself, admitted that superior officers and other officials were also entitled to a share of this money. They would in turn offer protection to the tenure of these policemen. It was also revealed that Boston Police Department (B.P.D.) had participated in cocaine trafficking for a period of 30 years.
In a separate incident, James Bulger, otherwise known as “Whitey” collaborated with the Boston police in cocaine trafficking. Bulger, the chief controller of cocaine trafficking and selling in the entire Boston, mobilized his gang and launched a kitty called “ X Fund” which was used to pay senior politicians and other law enforcement officers. Many officers from B.P.D. allegedly benefited from the kitty. In return, they could compromise legal provisions in favor of the drug dealers.
Moreover, in 2007, FBI also arrested another Boston police officer; Ortiz for attempting to extort money from a member of the public in a controversial cocaine deal. With regard to FBI report, Ortiz threatened to kill a man together with his entire family if the man would fail to pay two drug traffickers a sum not less than $ 260,000. The man had been blamed for frustrating a drug deal which then went bad. Ortiz was also arrested because of being in possession of keys to a motor vehicle that had been loaded with several kilos of cocaine. The involvement of Boston police officers in drug trafficking is further validated by the fact that in 2006, B.P.D. conducted a drug test for its police officers. Unfortunately, statistics from the department reveals that 75 officers failed the test. Those who failed the cocaine test were 65.
The above case analysis is a clear indication that Boston police officers have failed in their role to promote morality in the society. It should however be noted that the Boston Police cocaine trafficking scandal is just a reflection of unethical practices by the police in the whole world. It is rather ironical that the people who are charged with the responsibility of curbing immorality viz. drug trafficking in our society are the very same persons who are promoting immorality. It would be absurd for such police officers to arrest felonies especially on minor issues whereas they are themselves criminals of mega scandals. It should be noted that not all police officers engage themselves in illegal deals; some are of good conduct. However, the action by some policemen of promoting activities that are repugnant to morality and justice has triggered hatred among the members of the society against the police. According to empirical literatures, majority of people in the world do not view policemen as friendly people; they hate them. The act of Ortiz, a Boston police officer, of molesting a member of public for failing to furnish an illegal deal is another clear indication of how the police shun their responsibility. It is rather paradoxical that the man molested by Ortiz would have sought refuge from him. Unfortunately, the same Ortiz humiliates him. In summary, therefore, some police officers are dangerous than robbers. They are indeed among the greatest law breakers. It may sound absurd but the truth is, by arming some of our police officers, we have in other words armed thugs to humiliate us.
Using the Boston Police cocaine trafficking scandal phenomenon to represent the reality in our society, reforms in the police force are indispensable. It is important to educate our police officers on the importance of complying with ethics that have already been established. Compliance of ethics is the primary solution for creating a credible police force. However, the entire blame should not be directed towards the police. Some study suggests that the participation of police in illegal activities is partly because of the poor remuneration they are entitled to. This makes them seek for ways to supplement their income. The reform in the police force should therefore be multidimensional to include all aspects. It should take into account better remuneration to help them avoid taking bribery. Only then will a good relationship between the police and the society persist.