At times, police officers have a hard time trying to keep a good reputation, especially when the public is told so many stories by the media that are about police corruption. Sometimes it is hard to believe that people we are supposed to trust can be doing things so wrong and unethical. We all help to pay their salaries, and they are sworn in to protect the people and help enforce our laws, but there are often cases in which police officers will abuse their power. A few examples of what some corrupted officers will do are taking bribes, pocketing drugs, and even some more rare cases, like having sexual relations with prostitutes while on the job. I don’t think that there are as many corrupt officers as people normally think that there are, but since they get so much attention from the media, it just seems like there are more cases of police corruption. And these few corrupt officers make it difficult for the law-abiding officers to do their job and keep a reputable name.
There was a case of major police corruption in Los Angeles, California back in 1996. The article that I read that talked about this corruption case was titled Los Angeles Police Corruption Investigated. It was written by Tom Murlowski. In this case, there was a man named Javier Ovando. The story was that he had fired a gun at three Los Angeles police officers. They fired back, shot him in the head, and he was paralyzed. He was later sentenced to twenty-three years in prison for this supposed act.
An officer, who was at the scene of the shooting, named Rafael Perez, was caught stealing cocaine out of their evidence room. He was hoping to receive a lighter sentence, so he told a different story about the shooting that occurred. Officer Perez claimed that Ovando was actually unarmed, and that he was shot in the head while he was on the floor in a pair of handcuffs. The popular thought was that those officers might have been told to plant guns on suspects by a sergeant in the anti-gang unit to justify shootings or unlawful arrests. Ovando was released from prison, but since he was paralyzed, he is stuck in a wheelchair for life.
This article also mentions other cases of police corruption in that area. It mentioned mainly cases dealing with drugs, and one unbelievable case in which some officers had rented an apartment to use with prostitutes while on the job. They were also using those prostitutes to sell stolen drugs. The author also mentions in this article that he thinks we should end the war on drugs to help stop events like this one from occurring.
In my opinion, stopping the war on drugs would be tough to do. I don’t think it would help very much. There would still be corrupt officers dealing with drugs. Corruption is always going to be an issue in policing. This is one of the many reasons I want to become a police officer, though. I know that most people will at least be tempted by corruption while on the job, but I know that I will be able to stand up against it and do the job the right way.
By Scott Masters
Murlowski, Tom. "Los Angeles Police Corruption Investigated." Home Page of the November Coalition. Web. 03 Feb. 2012. <http://www.november.org/razorwire/rzold/15/1434.html>.