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Measurement of Police Integrity, Research in Brief

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2000
11 pages
Publication Series
Following an overview of research pertinent to police officers' understanding of agency rules concerning police misconduct and the extent of their support for these rules, this paper reports on a survey that solicited information in key areas that form the foundation of an occupational/organizational culture theory of police integrity.
The survey sample consisted of 3,235 officers from 30 U.S. police agencies from across the Nation. The survey asked officers for their opinions about various hypothetical cases of police misconduct, thereby avoiding the resistance that direct inquiries about corrupt behavior would likely provoke. The survey measured how seriously officers regarded police corruption, how willing they were to report it, and how willing they were to support punishment for rules violations by fellow officers. Based on officers' responses to questions on 11 hypothetical case scenarios of police corrupt behavior, the study found that officers considered some types of misconduct to be significantly less serious than others. The more serious the officers perceived a behavior to be, the more likely they were to believe that more severe discipline was appropriate and the more willing they were to report a colleague who engaged in the misconduct. A majority of officers said they would not report a fellow officer who had engaged in what they regarded as less serious misconduct (e.g., operating an off-duty security business; accepting free gifts, meals, and discounts; or having a minor accident while driving under the influence of alcohol). Most officers indicated they would report a colleague who stole from a found wallet or a burglary scene, accepted a bribe or kickback, or used excessive force on a car thief after a foot pursuit. The survey found substantial differences in the environment of integrity among the 30 agencies in the sample. 7 exhibits and 6 notes

Date Published: June 1, 2000