Essay on Police Corruption in America

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Police corruption is the abuse of police authority for personal benefit. Police corruption is something that happens internationally for various reasons such as, lack of integrity, and protection from people with authority. Police corruption exists because police culture embraces and protects officers even when they intentionally kill an innocent person (Williams, 2002). The longer a policeman stays in an agency, the more connections he or she will have. Depending on this person’s integrity, they will either be a good apple or a bad one. In America there is more corruption than there should be. A study shows that roughly three officers are charged every day, that is about 1,100 police officers arrested a year. Most common forms of corruption include bribery, extortion and selling drugs.

Corruption: Historical Review

Although police corruption is something unacceptable, it was a key factor in the development of police. Towards the end of the 19th century machine-era, police were involved in political corruption. They provided services to political allies of the machines. Policeman were interfering with opponents’ machines, which is very illegal. Police also helped in widespread election fraud.

Another event that happened in the past regarding police corruption was during the Prohibition (1919-1933). This event created new opportunities for corruption to take place. Prohibition marked a change in how corruption was organized (Potter, 2013). Organized crime worked directly with the corrupt police during these times. There were a lot of cities where policemen became more than a watchman. This led to the corruption in American policing to be almost total.

Because of these events mentioned above and others, it was noticeable that a change was needed in American police force. Investigations took place and let to the believe that new strategies for reducing police corruption were needed. An example of one of these new strategies was the improvement of standards for recruitment and training, more investigation on misbehaviors and the creation of programs in integrity for recruits and in-service personnel. All these recommendations put more pressure on supervisors to be more responsible of the people under their charge. With that being said, history of corruption helped develop a stricter management of police.

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Impact on Society

Police corruption has had a great impact on society. Because of police corruption there have been many cases where people are wrongfully convicted and lost their freedom. Central Park Five is a very famous case that shows impact of police corruption in society. In this case, five kids ages 14 to 16 were accused of a crime they did not commit. The police officers in charge of this case were trying very hard to put the blame on someone. They chose to abuse their authority and not follow rules and procedures. To achieve their goals, police officers falsified evidence, confessions, used excessive force on the kids, and neglected their rights. These actions were unethical because they were very illegal. Not only they changed the lives of those five kids, but they also change the lives of their family members and family friends. Today, everyone knows that these individuals were responsible for a gross miscarriage of justice, but while the Central Park Five have lost years behind bars, many of the people responsible for putting them there have gone on to live the good life (Gray, 2019).

What the Future Holds

Everyone in America would hope for corruption to not exist, but that is very unrealistic. With the amount of new policeman entering our system, the big quantities of money involved and new technology, it is very possible that corruption will increase with time. There will be new ways for corrupt policemen to plant evidence, steal, falsify police reports and not get caught.

Corruption in America will grow, and the public might not know about it. Authorities will have more power and those under will have no choice but to follow. The bigger they are, the more money they will help them shut mouths. Those with money will get away with crime and the poor people who cannot defend themselves will not have a choice but to take responsibility of the crimes.


Having knowledge about this topic is essential to stop it from growing. Noticing corruption led to new strategies that eventually led to better policing. Corruption has broken many families by taking those loved ones away and incarcerating them preventing them from their freedom. It has also been the reason for money lost in many cases. We hope for it to stop and with technology on our side we could help lower the numbers. Hopefully justice is brought to all those families that have been affected by police misconduct, those who have done wrong are caught and brought into justice, and those who are planning to do wrongful things, never get the chance to do it.


  1. Gray, M. J. (2019) The Central Park Five Case: Where the Racist Cops and Prosecutors Are Now. The Grio.
  2. Bayley D., Perito R. (2011). Police Corruption. United States Institute of Peace. Pages 2-8.
  3. Potter, G. (2013). The History of Policing in the United States, Part 4. Police Studies Online.
  4. Williams, H. (2002). Core Factors of Police Corruption Across the World.
  5. Jackman, T. (2016). ‘Study Finds Police Officers Arrested 1,100 Times Per Year, or 3 Per Day, Nationwide’. The Washington Post.
  6. Storey, K. (2019). ‘‘When They See Us’ Shows the Disturbing Truth About How False Confessions Happen’. Esquire.
  7. Newsbeat. (2019). Central Park Five: The True Story Behind When They See Us. BBC News.
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Essay on Police Corruption in America. (2023, January 31). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 14, 2024, from
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