Police Corruption in Thirty Agencies in the United States, 1997 (ICPSR 2629)

Published: Nov 4, 2005 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Carl B. Klockars, University of Delaware. Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice

https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02629.v1

Version V1

This study examined police officers' perceptions of and tolerance for corruption. In contrast to the popular viewpoint that police corruption is a result of moral defects in the individual police officer, this study investigated corruption from an organizational viewpoint. The approach examined the ways rules are communicated to officers, how rules are enforced by supervisors, including sanctions for violation of ethical guidelines, the unspoken code against reporting the misconduct of a fellow officer, and the influence of public expectations about police behavior. For the survey, a questionnaire describing 11 hypothetical scenarios of police misconduct was administered to 30 police agencies in the United States. Specifically, officers were asked to compare the violations in terms of seriousness and to assess the level of sanctions each violation of policies and procedures both should and would likely receive. For each instance of misconduct, officers were asked about the extent to which they supported agency discipline for it and their willingness to report it. Scenarios included issues such as off-duty private business, free meals, bribes for speeding, free gifts, stealing, drinking on duty, and use of excessive force. Additional information was collected about the officers' personal characteristics, such as length of time in the police force (in general and at their agency), the size of the agency, and the level of rank the officer held.

Klockars, Carl B. Police Corruption in Thirty Agencies in the United States, 1997  . Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2005-11-04. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02629.v1

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (95-IJ-CX-0058)
1997
1997

The user guide, codebook, and data collection instrument are provided as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided through the ICPSR Website on the Internet.

This study examined police officers' perceptions of and tolerance for corruption. Much attention has been devoted to the discussion of causes of police corruption -- the abuse of authority by an officer for personal gain. The intent of this research was to answer questions that are crucial to the organizational/occupational-culture theory of police corruption and practical police administration. These questions are: (1) What is the level of knowledge of organizational rules governing corruption? (2) How strongly does the occupational culture condemn behavior that those rules prohibit? (3) What punishment is expected for violation of those rules? (4) To what extent does occupational culture support punishment of the violation? and (5) To what extent are the views of the individual officer different from the norm of the occupational culture? These issues were addressed by examining officers' responses to questions based on 11 hypothetical scenarios of police misconduct. The study objective in using hypothetical scenarios was to obtain a more realistic report of officers' views on corrupt activities than would have been obtained if officers were asked about their own or fellow officers' activities.

The project was designed to be a cross-national study of police integrity both among and within nations. However, this collection only contains the data from the 30 agencies examined in the United States. A police officer liaison at each agency distributed and collected questionnaires from willing participants. Questionnaires presented 11 brief scenarios describing practices that would be recognizable to police in any modern, industrial society. Included in the 11 scenarios were nine that described behavior generally regarded as corrupt, one that described an incident of intentional use of excessive force, and another that described a behavior -- conducting an off-duty, security business -- that is permitted by some police agencies and prohibited in others. For each scenario, officers were asked to rate the seriousness of the misconduct described, the extent to which they would support agency discipline of it, and their willingness to report such behavior.

A convenience sample.

All police officers in the United States.

Individuals.

self-enumerated questionnaires

survey data

Respondents were asked several questions about each of the 11 scenarios. For each scenario, two questions focused on the seriousness of the behavior described, two asked officers about the appropriate and expected discipline for the behavior, and two questions asked officers about their willingness to report the behavior. Scenarios of police corruption included issues such as off-duty private business, free meals, bribes for speeding, free gifts, stealing, drinking on duty, and use of excessive force. Additional information was collected about the officers' personal characteristics, such as length of time in the police force (in general and at their agency), the size of the agency, and the level of rank the officer held.

55.5 percent

Several Likert-type scales were used.

1999-08-18

2005-11-04

2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • Klockars, Carl B. POLICE CORRUPTION IN THIRTY AGENCIES IN THE UNITED STATES, 1997. ICPSR version. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Justice, National Institute of Justice [producer], 1997. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1999. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02629.v1

2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

1999-08-18 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Notes

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
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This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.