Integrity tests for officers — Will they help?
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Darryl De Sousa, Baltimore's new police commissioner, recently announced that his officers will be subjected to random integrity tests. Designed to check people and ultimately clean house, De Sousa's plan aims to bring back accountability to the department, which has been battered by scandal. The new commissioner feels it's high time to restore their integrity and public faith.
Of course, that's easier said than done when an entire city has become a benchmark for bad faith. But the new initiatives to root out corrupt cops are steps in the right direction. New test strategies will be implemented along with the traditional IA hearings. The department will also hire an inspector general who will make the sweeping changes and end documented patterns of discriminatory policing.
Some of these strategies include imposing polygraph tests and rolling out the integrity tests. Sting operations will be a part of these integrity tests. There may be random calls to officers in the station or cash planted in park benches to tempt greedy officers.
Most people agree that the Baltimore PD needs a strict cleanup. The police, mayor's office and community leaders want to tackle the persistent street violence. They also need to approach and mitigate the deep distrust of the police. All of these factors lead to declining morale in both the force and the public.
While the degree of corruption varies, this is a persistent issue with other states as well. There is a distinct effort by most leaders to clean house and enforce stricter regulations for officers. Unless they fix the problems from within, they cannot hope to rebuild or restore their community relations.
In New York, for example, NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill has announced a zero-tolerance policy for perjurers. There will be tests and monitors to prevent officers from lying under oath or falsifying evidence. When caught, they will face the maximum punishment, which should act as a deterrent.
There are also increasing instances of actions taken against officers who did not follow the ethical standards expected of them.
A Milwaukee police officer was fired for drunk driving, though he had been given prior warnings. He failed to honor his department's code of integrity and endangered the lives of those he'd sworn to protect. In Socorro, Texas, the police chief resigned when IA started investigating a controversial traffic stop involving the city manager's son.
It is no longer easy for powerful people to flout ethical standards and get away with misdeeds. Departments like the Buffalo PD are going a step forward and scrutinizing their hiring process as well. The psychologist responsible for vetting applicants for police and fire departments has failed to live the code of ethics. His racial and sexual bias has robbed the department of good men and women, and an investigation led to his termination.
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