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Integrity Systems for Police Organisations

Notwithstanding the above, integrity systems for police organizations can and do vary. However, such systems ought to have at least the following components or aspects (Prenzler 2009; Prenzler et al. 2008; Miller 2010a):

  • 3. An effective, stream-lined complaints and discipline system;
  • 4. A comprehensive suite of stringent vetting and induction processes reflective of the different levels of risk in different areas of the organization;
  • 5. A basic code of ethics and specialized codes of practice—for example, in relation to the use of firearms—supported by ethics education in recruitment training, and ongoing professional development programs;
  • 6. Adequate welfare support systems, for example, in relation to drug and alcohol abuse, and psychological injury;
  • 7. Intelligence gathering, risk management and early warning systems for at-risk officers, for example, officers with high levels of complaints;
  • 8. Internal investigations, that is, the police organization takes a high degree of responsibility for its own unethical officers;
  • 9. Pro-active anti-corruption intervention systems, for example, targeted integrity testing;
  • 10. Ethical leadership, for example, promoting police who give priority to the collective ends definitive of the organization rather than their own career ambitions; and
  • 11. External oversight by an independent, well-resourced body with investigative powers.

As the foregoing points suggest, a key element in an integrity system for police organizations is an organization-wide, intelligence-based, ethics risk-assessment process. This involves good intelligence and an organization-wide ethics risk- assessment plan and—based on good intelligence and the risk-assessment plan— the identification of corruption/rights violations/ethical misconduct risks in the police organization.

Ethical risks in a contemporary police organization might include risks in many, if not most, of the following areas:

  • 1. Data security, notably electronic data;
  • 2. Drug investigations, given the massive funds involved and the absence of victims who might complain;
  • 3. Excessive use of force;
  • 4. Informant management, given that most informants are themselves criminals;
  • 5. Infiltration by organized crime.

Other areas of concern in many police organizations are the ethical risks stemming from: severe stress among police officers and the inability of managers to identify and respond effectively to severe stress in their subordinates; noble cause corruption, in which officers break the law to achieve good outcomes, for example, by doctoring statements and even fabricating evidence; political and/or media and/or police hierarchy pressure for results, or even actual interference in high profile investigations, thereby compromising the investigative process and (potentially) its outcome.

Once ethical risk areas have been identified, preventive counter-measures need to be put in place. These counter-measures should track the identified risks. Some counter-measures and the risks that they track include the following.

  • 1. In relation to data security: segregation of, and controlled access to, internal affairs databases; audits of data base access.
  • 2. In relation to drug investigations: early warning systems, for example, profiles of at risk officers/locations/high risk areas; intelligence-driven targeted integrity testing of individuals/locations; audits of drug squads and forensic laboratories.
  • 3. In relation to excessive use of force: complaints-driven investigations informed by intelligence, for example, a high number of complaints of excessive use of force.
  • 4. In relation to informant management: accountability mechanisms such as documentation naming the informant, ensuring that a police officer with an informant has a supervisor who meets with the officer and the informant, having a supervisor who monitors the police officer’s dealings with the informant, and recording all payments (including electronic transfers, to prevent theft).
  • 5. In relation to infiltration by organized crime: stringent and constantly updated vetting procedures (especially for officers in sensitive areas), ensuring adequate supervision of all officers, and monitoring and utilization of intelligence data bases (including criminal associations).
  • 6. In relation to stress: ensuring adequate supervision of all officers; introduction of stress management tools.
  • 7. In relation to all of the above: ongoing ethics training based on identified risks in specific roles.
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