Rogue officers are tempted to engage in noble cause corruption in situations where they perceive no administrative accountability and decide to push the constitutional envelope, even though police must know and respect the constitutional laws upon which their very authority is derived. Departmental leaders must address noble cause corruption by defining what it is, what fosters it, and how to eliminate it.
What Is Noble Cause Corruption?Noble cause corruption in policing is defined as "corruption committed in the name of good ends, corruption that happens when police officers care too much about their work. It is corruption committed in order to get the bad guys off the streetsthe corruption of police power, when officers do bad things because they believe that the outcomes will be good."2 Examples of noble cause corruption are, planting or fabricating evidence, lying on reports or in court, and generally abusing police authority to make a charge stick.
The policing profession attracts, among others, a certain type of individual: authoritative and responsible, one with leadership skills, who acts on behalf of others, with a high disregard for his or her own well being. Some academics suggest police applicants have a preconception of the profession-the noble cause-that makes them stand out as promising prospects. This preconceived notion is a profound moral commitment to make the world safer.3
Police corruption, traditionally, has been defined as the following:
- "a misuse of authority by a police officer for personal gain,"4
- "accepting money or money's worth to provide a service they are duty bound to provide,"5 or
- "physical, psychological or legal abuse used by police."6
A recent survey demonstrated that officers felt corruption for personal gain was a much more serious charge than engaging in corrupt behavior that appears "to benefit society at large."7 This sub cultural value system rationalizes constitutional rights violations.
Officers do not normally define "a bending of the rules for a greater good" as misconduct or as corruption; rather, they rationalize that such behavior is part of the job description, in a utilitarian sense, to get the criminals off the streets, regardless of the means.8
When this passion for a safer society goes unchecked, it often leads to police crime and civil rights violation. This passion-laudable in itself-can cause good officers to overzealously execute their duties..... READ ARTICLE