Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Above the Law

Many people may not consider this topic to specifically be police corruption, but it is something that an officer does that is not lawful, and unethical. Recently an on call deputy with the Sacramento County Sheriff's department plead guilty to having sex with a 13 year-old girl that he picked up while on duty and took to a hotel in Lincoln. The former deputy, Eric Cephus, made a plea bargain in which he will only serve 18 years in prison and have to register as a sex offender, instead of serving life in prison. This incident is not the first time that a Sacramento County Sheriff's deputy has severely broken the law. Previous incidents include the following:
  • "In January 2009, Dr. Peter Dietrich, the department's doctor overseeing medical care at the jail, was arrested on charges of overprescribing OxyContin."
  • "Three months later, Deputy Chu Vue was arrested for allegedly masterminding the murder of his wife's lover, a correctional officer."
  • "In September, Deputy Lisa Gargano was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of prescription drugs after she crashed her sport-utility vehicle into a Natomas Starbucks."
  • "The next month, Lt. Michael Patrick Leary was arrested in connection with a real estate transaction that authorities allege was designed to defraud a former girlfriend." (Minugh and Fletcher, 2010)
Once a person becomes a police officer, they often change the way they think and look at things. This "cop mentality" is present in all officers. Once an officer, one is more aware of their surroundings, thinks about situations as right and wrong under the law, interprets the law, and makes many instant decisions. Not all officers take advantage of being an officer. What is meant by that is, not all officers are going to walk into a store and expect to get a free soda just because they are an officer. Going even further into depth with this subject, the free soda turns into stealing a candy bar while working a crime scene, stealing a candy bar turns into taking home and keeping a department camera, and so on. The point of this is that once the officer gets away with doing one thing, the severity of the following actions increases. Eventually we reach a point where the officer believes that he is above the law. The law simply does not apply to that officer because he is a police officer. Police officers will practice extraordinary discretion in order to do a favor for other officers. At first officers tend to get away with their actions but as they progressively get worse, a line is drawn. No officer should be treated as they are above the law. Laws are not created solely for law enforcement officials to enforce them, but for them to be followed by everyone. Including officers.


Minugh, Kim and Fletcher, Ed
. Sacramento on-call deputy accused of sexual assault of 13-year-old. Sacramento Bee. March 4, 2010.

Newton, Jim. Shaking the 'Warrior Cop' Mentality a Test of City's Will. Los Angeles Times. July 16, 2006.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Corruption Within the Government

When officials are corrupt, the trust of the public in those officials begins to diminish. When the trust of the public is no longer instilled in government agencies then all means of order will lead to chaos. In the United States there have been times of chaos, particularly remembering the protests of the Vietnam War and the Rodney King riots. Although corruption has not disappeared in the United States, there is a strong source of police corruption in Afghanistan.

As more and more American troops are sent to Afghanistan to train the Afghan National Police and Army, it is brought to our attention that the Afghan government will not improve unless the corruption comes to a halt. The government uses all of its officials to make additio
nal profit off of the Afghan's. With the continuous corruption the Afghan's have lost trust in the government and the American troops struggle to help. Such corruption of the Afghanistan government include, "police officials who steal truckloads of gasoline; judges and prosecutors who make decisions based on bribes; high-ranking government officials who reap payoffs from hashish and chromite smuggling; and midlevel security and political jobs that are sold, sometimes for more than $50,000, money the buyers then recoup through still more bribes and theft." (NYTimes, 2009)

When trust is not instilled in the government the community is soon uncontrollable. The police will not be called to come make peace because they are not trusted, resulting in Afghans taking it upon themselves to serve justice. A situation like this can only get worse, citizens will be injured and killed, and when that happens the Afghans will once again take it upon themselves to make sure justice is served. Without trust in the government, the pattern of behavior will turn into a never ending vicious circle. The government may try to enact a new law, but the law will not be followed.

The only people who will "play along" with the government are those who are wealthy enough to afford to pay off the government as needed. If a family member is in trouble with the law, they slip money under the table and the prosecutor settles. When jobs are being bought into and the higher officials reap the benefits, what is the motivation to stop this disastrous pattern?

There is no feasible answer to this situation that includes leaving the government operating as it is, as well as leaving all of the current administrators in charge. In order to fix the corrupt government in Afghanistan there needs to be a new administration team brought it that really cracks down on what government officials are and are not allowed to do. Of course this will not stop all of the corruption at once, there will still be corruption in the lower levels of the government that goes unseen and unheard of. But when the corruption surfaces, there should be disciplinary actions to those who participated in the corrupted activity. A severe consequence is needed to show that corruption is absolutely not tolerated.

As the citizens of Afghanistan see the improvement and new administration in the government they will slowly start to give the government and chance and gain trust back, but it will not be easy. It will take a very, very long time for Afghans to fully trust the government. Possibly even years, or decades, but they need to start somewhere.


New York Times. Corruption Undercuts Hopes for Afghan Police. NYTIMES . April 8, 2009.