Police Corruption and New Models for Reform
Posted: 31 Oct 2001
Date Written: October 2001
Since early in our history, America has been plagued with problems of police misconduct and corruption. Different models for reform have been proposed, from community policing to private civil rights actions. Today, there are new models of reform available. This article discusses a comprehensive approach to police reform. In addition to evaluating the effectiveness of prior approaches, it analyzes the use of RICO actions against police departments, the role of judges in preventing police abuse, and the need for administrative and political reforms. Using the example of the recent Rampart Scandal in Los Angeles, the article suggests that every participant in the criminal justice system plays a vital role in preventing police abuse. It reiterates that the major problem for police departments is not the presence of rogue officers who engage in abuses. Rather, the problem is more often a police culture that protects and even encourages overzealous policing. Finally, the article suggests that while traditional remedies for police abuse play an important role, private civil rights actions are inadequate tools for instituting long term reforms. A combination of approaches, as well as federal supervision, is needed.
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