In2011 the FBI conducted a sting operation that led to the arrest andindictment of 3 police officers from the Kansas Police Department.The FBI took this course of action after there were numerouscomplaints from civilians of misconduct from police officers thatwere undertaking searches in private residences (KCTV, 2011). Thethree officers that were arrested were Jeffrey M. Bell, Darryl M.Forrest, and Dustin Sillings. These individuals had already beenaccused of several thefts in the previous year. The FBI set up baitfor these officers by placing several video gamesequipmentand cash all over the house. The whole operation was monitored viavideo surveillance, and this evidence led to the arrest of the cops.From the surveillance, they were seen to take a Nintendo gamingconsole together with about 600 dollars in cash (KCTV, 2011). Thesethree people served between 8 months to a year as they were waitingfor their case to be heard. This conduct was highly unethical sincethese officers were charged with the duty of protecting andsafeguarding people’s properties yet they were caught on camerastealing (KCTV, 2011).
Thebehavior of the three law-enforcement officers greatly tarnished theimage of the Kansas Police Department since the public now viewed theentire force to be compiled of thieves and crooks. Every member thatwas in that task force should have ensured that every action takenwas ethical and by the Constitution. However, most of the otherofficers turned a blind eye while the three illegally confiscatedthose items. This decision was unethical since every police officerhas a duty to prevent or report any form of misconduct from theircolleagues.
Theprimary contributing factor is financial constraints. It is publicknowledge that police officers receive low pay. Some of the arrestedofficers could have had some personal issues such as outstandingbills, medical costs or even gambling debts. Another reason that mayhave led to this unethical behavior could be as a result of greed.These officers may have been used to such acts and, therefore, themore property they stole, the more they wanted until they wereeventually caught. Abuse of power could have also led to thismisconduct. Some police officers oncetheygraduateandreceivebadges,they may begin to feel above the law. In this case, the officers mayhave thought that they were untouchable and therefore they could dowhatever they felt like doing (Ivković, 2014).
Oncethe actions of the officers in that unit were made public, they lostall form of credibility. They were shunned by their workmates,friends and family members. The relatives of this officers also hadto bear the burden due to the treatment they received from themembers of the community. This impact clearly shows what happens to aperson entrusted by the society, and they fail the public by suchunacceptable acts (Ivković, 2014).
Theunit that conducted that search must have had a team leader. Thisteam leader has a role of guiding the unit members, supervising theiractions and reporting back to the chief on everything that tookplace. This leader either failed to supervise their subordinates orlooked the other way while they stole personal property. To make itworse, this unit leader neglected to report any form of misconductthat may have taken place in the field. The leadership within thedepartment was not strict with accountability of the officers. Thenumerous complaints that were raised were never investigated. Thispart was where the system failed, subsequently, allowing the officersto take part in criminal activities (Bonanno, 2015).
Astrict oversight should have been in place especially for fieldofficers like the SWAT unit. The unit leader should have had theresponsibility of double checking every step the members of the teammake. Every item collected as evidence should have been clearlytagged and recorded (Albanese, 2015). The police chief should havealso been more hands-on when it came to field operations. Oncecomplaints began to reach the department on possible acts ofmisconduct, the chief should have started a full investigation intothe matter and not let the issue escalate to the point where the FBIhad to step in and take control.
IfI were a member of that task force working with those threeindividuals, I would have had several ways of handling the situation.Knowing how much I value my morals and how much I respect theresponsibility of being a member of the police, these illegal actionswould have not continued. The moment I would have noted somethingirregular being done by a member of my team, I would have personallyapproached them and gave them a warning about their actions. If mywarning was not heeded, I would then have raised my concerns to thepolice chief. After a period and I see that no action is being takento tackle the issue, the next action will be to report the corruptofficers to the Internal Affairs, who I am sure would haveinvestigated the claim.
Thisconduct would have made me a black sheep of my unit since the othersmay feel that I am not a team player. To some extreme case, my lifecould be in danger since the accused officers may try to silence meor even seek revenge once they learn I was the one who reported them.
Ethicsare paramount in the profession of a police officer since most oftheir responsibilities require trust and accountability. An officer’sdaily duties may involve having to protect valuable items such asmoney in banks or in transit, confidential documents, and evenTreasury bonds. A crooked law enforcement officer will likely seethis responsibility as a way of enriching their pockets. Another dutyis to arrest law offenders. An officer that has no morals or ethicsmay be willing to receive a bribe, thus, releasing dangerous elementsback into the society (Albanese, 2015).
Thepublic’s perception is mostly based on ethical members of theforce. Without ethics, the entire force loses its credibility, andthis situation makes it difficult for them to discharge their dutiesaccording to the constitution. Officers are mandated with protectinglives and property of civilians together with upholding the law.Unethical actions can make this department lose respect from thepublic making it impossible to carry out its duties (Albanese, 2015).
Albanese,J. S. (2015). Professionalethics in criminal justice: Being ethical when no one is looking.Pearson.
Bonanno,E. R. (2015). An Evidential Review of Police Misconduct: Officerversus Organization.
Ivković,S. K. (2014). PoliceCorruption (pp.3567-3577). Springer New York.
KCTV.(2011). Indictmentsagainst 3 KCK officers unsealed. Kansas City TV. Retrieved from <http://www.kctv5.com/story/15100305/breaking-indictments-against-3-kck-officers-unsealed>on July 29, 2016.