The Police force Research Essay

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Maintaining law, order, and peace across the country is the primary goal of the police force, which is a crucial branch of the legal system. The police force, which is charged with upholding order in various parts of the nation, has frequently found itself in legal trouble, raising concerns about their social obligations. Because of this, society’s institutions and the general public now scrutinize the cops much more closely. Some members of the public think that some police officers don’t carry out their duties in an ethical manner and, as a result, end up disobeying the law while carrying out their various tasks. The issue of police misconduct has for long plagued the US, primarily due to the increasingly alarming reports put across by members of the public who seek justice. Therefore, the research will focus on peer-reviewed articles that provide additional insight into factors that lead to police misconduct which will help in answering the question of why police misconduct occurs while providing appropriate solutions to the conundrum. The paper will critically examine ten reliable article sources that provide additional insight on the ethicality, performance and regulation of the police force in a bid to determine possible answers as to why some members of the police force fail to act in accordance with the law. Some of the articles reviewed are ‘The Onset of Police Misconduct’ by Christopher Harris, ‘Risk Assessment and Risk Management in Policing’ by Robert Worden, ‘Social Bonds and Police Misconduct’ by Jon Maskaly, ‘Police Officer Integrity’ by John Sloan, ‘How Cops and Lay People perceive Policing’ by Tracy Meares among five other peer-reviewed articles. The articles will help provide reliable information on the various causes of police misconduct and the various ways the issue might be contained in the long-term.

Literature Review

The first article under review is the ‘The Onset of Police Misconduct’ by Christopher Harris. The article attempts to investigate the various factors that contribute to police misconduct in the United States. Harris` article examined different police officers based on their ethnic backgrounds, education levels and experience to determine the probability of the officers participating inunlawful operations or misconduct. Some of the issues addressed throughout Harris` article are the factors that contribute to the onset of police misconduct, the essence of timing in preventing police misconduct and the various ways the police force can position itself to address the potential issues that may arise regarding misconduct. The results of the research proved that although it is difficult to determine the causes of police misconduct, it is fairly easy to determine the onset and extent of police misconduct in the US. Factors such as ethnic and educational background were found to play a pivotal role in police misconduct where relatively inexperienced officers were likely to engage in unlawful policing.

The second article used in the research paper is ‘Risk Assessment and Risk Management in Policing’ by Robert Worden, Christopher Harris and Sara McLean. The article aims to critique contemporary assessment and management tools that seek to determine the risk of the occurrence of police misconduct while also making relevant suggestions for improvement. Through drawing on available literature, the article attempts to summarize the findings of the respective authors on matters involving the patterns of police misconduct. Thus, by conducting extensive literature research, the reviewed article aims to draw relevant lessons for managing and assessing the increasing risk of police misconduct in the US. Some of the key topics addressed are the key patterns regarding police misconduct, essential elements of studying police misconduct and the various interventions that might be used in solving the issue at hand.

Article three is based on the relationships between police misconduct and social control. Titled ‘Social Bonds and Police Misconduct’, the article was authored by Christopher Donner, Jon Maskaly and Lorie Fridell and uses 101 first-line officers as the basis of the research. The article focuses on the effects of social bonds on the performance of police officers and how police misconduct can occur due to social relationships. Issues discussed in the article are such as factors that influence societal trust in the police and how that determines the performance of the men in uniform. Moreover, the article also bases its argument based on examined subjects whose performances were analyzed against their social relationships with the immediate members of the community. Interestingly, the results pointed out towards a direct correlation between police misconduct and social relations. Police officers working in healthy environments where there is mutual trust were less likely to engage in unlawful practices whereas their counterparts who are not trusted by the community were likely to perform their duties without care. Thus, it appears that social bonds have a direct influence on the performance of officers as those with high levels of social connection were less likely to engage in unlawful practices.

‘Police Officer Integrity; a Partial Replication and Extension’ by Hyeyoung Lim and John Sloan is an extension of initial research on police integrity. The article examines how organizational, ecological and individual factors affect the perception of police misconduct on police supervisors. Through analyzing existing relations and institutional bonds, the research attempts to determine the willingness of police supervisors to report offences and misconduct by their juniors or fellow members of the police force. The article builds up on initially provided information of police force relationships and the roles played by supervisors in ensuring the police perform their duties without fail. Therefore, through its conclusion, the article determines the roles of lieutenants and sergeants in identifying, addressing and preventing police misconduct by monitoring the performance of police officers and how they conduct their respective operations.

The fifth article used in the research paper is ‘Exploring the viability of Attitudes Towards Ethical Behavior in Understanding Police Integrity Outcomes’ by Matthew Hickman, Alex Piquero, Zachary Powell and Jack Green. The article sought to prove the interrelationship between integrity outcomes and police attitude. Through the analysis of police attitude and their performance outcomes, the article attempted to determine factors related to police attitude and how they influence both the performance of police and their supervisors. Police officers and supervisors with positive attitudes appeared more committed to maintaining integrity as opposed to their counterparts with poor attitudes. Principle supervisors with positive attitudes were found to report misconduct incidences up to four times than supervisors with negative attitudes towards work. Therefore, the article assists in understanding the various factors that lead to police misconduct, poor attitudes being one of them. Further, factors that lead to positive police attitude were also analyzed in the article with officers working in healthy and accommodative environments registering better outcomes due to their positive attitudes.

Tracy Meares, Tom Tyler, and Jacob Gardener in their article, ‘Lawful or Fair? How Cops and Laypeople Perceive Good Policing’ analyze the perception of the public and relevant stakeholders of good policing. The article commences by acknowledging the disparities that exist between the public and legal authorities. Further, the article highlights that police departments, their actions and policies are either perceived as wrong or right depending on how the police execute their duties in reference to constitutional standards. Topics such as the comparison of procedural justice and lawfulness as well as the perception of illegality are critically analyzed in a bid to offer insight on the contentious issue of police punishment. The authors sought to determine what makes police conduct unlawful and the various factors that increase the public`s skepticism of the police force. This helps understand the relationship between the public and the police and the various ways such relationships can be improved to increase the efficiency of the police force while reducing issues of misconduct in both the short-term and the long run. What is more, the article relies on both literature and empirical evidence to draw legitimate conclusions on the issue of police misconduct and the perception of the public on such issues.

Article seven is ‘Does Discipline Fairness Matter for the Police Code of Silence? Answers from the US Supervisors and Line Officers’ by Sanja Ivkovic and Robert Peacock. The article examines the contours of the police code of silence and the relation between the public view of disciplinary fairness and the code of silence through a survey on police officers. The survey used 604 officers from 11 different agencies evenly distributed across the US. Through the questionnaires, the selected subjects answered several questions that sought to determine the performance and behavior of police officers in different scenarios. The findings proved that the police code significantly varies across different scenarios for both officers and supervisors. Among the key topics discussed in the article were issues such as corruption, misconduct, accountability, police culture, use of force and deadly force. The subjects gave out different responses; however, there was a common trend in the responses. The respondents who perceived the discipline in contention as fair were likely to honor the code while those who found the discipline in question to be too lenient or too tough were not likely to adhere to the code.

The eighth article is Liqun Cao`s ‘Differentiating Confidence in the Police, Trust in the Police, and Satisfaction with the Police’. Right from the onset of the article, the Cao makes efforts to differentiate between the three most used concepts in regards to the police. He boldly claims that the three concepts public view of the police, satisfaction and trust in the police are different despite being frequently misused. Through extensive literature review, the article attempts to define the key policing terms and prove that they are distinct from one another. The first phase is the definition of the policing terms which are differentiated through analysis of previous literature and research findings. According to Cao, confidence in the police is whereby the public believes the police force is competent enough to perform its mandated obligations. Trust in the police is a more advanced form of confidence where the public and general society believes in the police force`s ability to maintain carry out its functions efficiently without causing any form of harm. Satisfaction with the force, on the other hand, refers to the situations where the public is delighted with policing outcomes and believes the police are performing to the best of their abilities.

‘Public Opinion and Satisfaction with State Law Enforcement’ by Tara Shelley, Michael Hogan and Prabha Unnithan is the ninth article used in the paper. The article focuses on determining the public opinion regarding police conduct. The authors begin by acknowledging that police perception is positive despite a host of differing views on the role of the police. Through utilizing a statewide sample of Colorado residents, the article is keen on determining how the public perceive the police and its functions, more so due to the lack of enough research materials on the otherwise sensitive topic. According to the authors, the perception of the police force depends on the effects of its respective operations to the public. That said, it is practically impossible to come up to a general conclusion since police perception depends on the nature of services offered to the areas of police jurisdiction. However, the authors go ahead to conclude that police perception is highly dependent on the level of satisfaction of the immediate community served by the respective police. Positive opinions are likely to emerge when locals are satisfied by police action and believe that the police are doing their best to maintain peace and harmony. Contrastingly, public opinion is often negative when there lacks trust, cohesion and cooperation between the public and police officers.

‘Expanding the Measurement of Police Integrity’ by Matthew Hickman, Alex Piquero, Zachary Powell and Jack Green is the tenth and final article used in the paper. The paper aims to determine the effectiveness of the available police integrity measurement tools and how they can be improved to increase police integrity and accountability. The authors make a recommendation that broader assessments of police culture and activities will help provide additional information on police integrity measurement. Further, the authors highlight the importance of moving with time and understanding the ever changing nature of police culture. This will help create improve the measurement of police integrity since the police culture and activities will be considered. Another suggestion that was laid down by the authors is the need to comprehend the different function of police units and departments when attempting to measure police integrity.

Major Points of discussions

Public Perception of the Police Force

According to article 9 by O`Connor Shelley, Hogan, Prabha Uniithan and Stretesky (2013) the public perceives the police force based on how it conducts its operations. A positive perception is likely to occur when there are little to no cases of police misconduct reported. Further, the police and the public are referred to as different entities whose perception is interdependent on the roles of the other party (Meares, Tyler & Gardener, 2012). Article 6 by Meares, Tyler and Gardener (2012) describes the thin line of perception that exists between police officers and the public. In the public eyes, law enforcement officers are perceived as an extension of justice and are therefore expected to always conduct themselves in a professional manner. However, the authors go ahead to add that how police are viewed depends on how they conduct their respective roles in regards to the constitution (Meares, Tyler & Gardener, 2012).

Police Misconduct

Article 1, `The onset of police misconduct`, attempts to define the various factors that lead to police misconduct. Police misconduct is defined as the unconstitutional and unprofessional acts of police officers when performing their duties (Harris, 2014). Police misconduct has been discussed in all the articles; and as Worden, Harris and McLean (2014) highlight in article 2, Police misconduct can be contained by creating and maintaining measures that analyze the operations of police officers. The police force has different departments which perform different functions from protection to investigation and maintenance of peace and order in respective jurisdictions. Therefore, necessary measures should be put in place to ensure that the police through their supervisors are under constant supervision that will prevent misconduct from occurring (Donner, Maskaly & Fridell, 2016). Furthermore, in article 3, police misconduct is found to be interconnected to social relations. Police with positive social links are likely to avoid jeopardizing their good reputations and as a result, are likely to focus performing at a high level as opposed to engaging in unprofessional activities (Donner, Maskaly & Fridell, 2016).

Police Officer Integrity

As Lim and Sloan (2016) in article 5 reiterate, the integrity of police officers is dependent on their attitudes towards their tasks. Officers working in healthy environments are likely to maintain professionalism and their integrity while carrying out their duties (Lim & Sloan, 2016). In article 7, police discipline emerges as a pivotal component in maintaining police integrity. The police code of silence varies in different departments depending on the type of case and situation at hand (Ivković, Peacock & Haberfeld, 2016). The police force has different functions and consequently perceives situations differently. As a result of this, the integrity of police officers is likely to be influenced by the department or field they operate in. Supervisors have the responsibility of reporting and taking necessary action to prevent misconduct from compromising the performance of the police.

The performance of the police

Article 10 examines the role played by measuring the integrity of the police in the performance of the police functions. The existence of different departments implies that each police unit has its specific obligations to satisfy (Hickman, Piquero, Powell & Greene, 2016). From article 10, it can be concluded that necessary measurements should be put in place to examine police misconduct as opposed to generalizing the ethical and professional obligations of police officers. Further, the authors reiterate that police performance is directly related to integrity observation by the members of the police force. Article 5 points out towards a relationship between police attitude and performance. Police officers who maintain a positive attitude are five times likely to perform their duties effectively (Hickman, Powell, Piquero & Greene, 2016). In article 4, it is clear that police performance depends on organizational, personal and ecological factors that influence the perception of integrity. Officers from departments where integrity is valued by supervisors are likely to maintain high-performance levels and observe professionalism as opposed to counterparts influenced by loosely held police values (Lim & Sloan, 2016).

Managing the Risk of Police Misconduct

Police misconduct can greatly compromise trust and confidence the public has on police officers. However, as can be seen in article 2, the occurrence of police misconduct should be anticipated and adequately managed. Expecting police misconduct to occur is an important step in managing police misconduct as it prepares supervisors and the relevant authorities to tackle integrity issues immediately they arise (E. Worden, Harris & J. McLean, 2014). What is more, understanding the various terms used in policing will help determine the performance of the police force as indicated in article 8. It is easier to address the issue of police misconduct when members of the public differentiate between trust, confidence and satisfaction with the police force (Cao, 2015). Police misconduct leads to reduced trust in the police`s ability to perform their functions and consequently leads to a lack of trust by the public. Therefore, necessary measures should be put to address the issue of misconduct within the police force and also externally to maintain a high level of confidence with the public.

Police misconduct is a contentious topic that has led to increased questions on the performance of the police force. The articles considered throughout the paper have suggested possible causes of police misconduct while providing workable solutions that can help address the issue of police misconduct. Police misconduct not only prevents police officers from performing their functions effectively but has also played a massive role in deteriorating the relationship between officers and the public. Moreover, the topic of police integrity is also prominent throughout the articles as the authors attempt to shed light on some of the factors that promote a lack of professionalism and integrity in the police force. Maintaining integrity is a proven way of tackling police misconduct as stated in the various article used in the research. Also, the public perception of the police force is a key factor that is heavily linked with police misconduct. When police officers have functional relationships with members of the public, they are likely to maintain integrity in a bid to maintain the already-pleasant relationships with the public. However, when the public perceives police officers negatively, members of the police force are less likely to attempt to mend the relationship, instead preferring to conduct their operations without care of the outcomes. Therefore, it is critical for the police force to maintain an excellent image to the public and increase the level of confidence the public has in its different departments. Furthermore, integrity measures should be expanded as a means of keeping up with cultural changes and ensuring that potential operational conflicts are avoided at all costs. Reducing the cases of police misconduct will improve the performance of the police by encouraging officers to conduct their operations professionally at all times.


Cao, L. (2015). Differentiating confidence in the police, trust in the police, and satisfaction with the police. Policing: An International Journal Of Police Strategies & Management, 38(2), 239-249.

Donner, C., Maskaly, J., & Fridell, L. (2016). Social bonds and police misconduct. Policing: An International Journal Of Police Strategies & Management, 39(2), 416-431.

E. Worden, R., Harris, C., & J. McLean, S. (2014). Risk assessment and risk management in policing. Policing: An International Journal Of Police Strategies & Management, 37(2), 239-258.

Harris, C. (2014). The onset of police misconduct. Policing: An International Journal Of Police Strategies & Management, 37(2), 285-304.

Hickman, M., Piquero, A., Powell, Z., & Greene, J. (2016). Expanding the measurement of police integrity. Policing: An International Journal Of Police Strategies & Management, 39(2), 246-267.

Hickman, M., Powell, Z., Piquero, A., & Greene, J. (2016). Exploring the viability of an attitudes toward ethical behavior scale in understanding police integrity outcomes. Policing: An International Journal Of Police Strategies & Management, 39(2), 319-337

Ivković, S., Peacock, R., & Haberfeld, M. (2016). Does discipline fairness matter for the police code of silence? Answers from the US supervisors and line officers. Policing: An International Journal Of Police Strategies & Management, 39(2), 354-369.

Lim, H., & Sloan, J. (2016). Police officer integrity: a partial replication and extension. Policing: An International Journal Of Police Strategies & Management, 39(2), 284-301.

Meares, T., Tyler, T., & Gardener, J. (2012). The Two Different Worlds We Live In: Lawfulness and Perceived Police Misconduct. SSRN Electronic Journal.

O’Connor Shelley, T., Hogan, M., Prabha Unnithan, N., & Stretesky, P. (2013). Public opinion and satisfaction with state law enforcement. Policing: An International Journal Of Police Strategies & Management, 36(3), 526-542.

July 15, 2023

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