Police Accountability for Corruption: Dominican Republic vs. United States
Accountability in American policing has been a vital element as it ensures individual officers and law enforcement agencies are held responsible for their actions and decisions. Police accountability is essential in order for police to achieve the goals of lawfulness and legitimacy. According to the National Academy of Sciences, lawfulness is the compliance with formal procedures of the law such as court decisions and statutes. Conversely, legitimacy is the perception that police should conduct themselves in lawful manners consistently in line with public expectations. Police are required to maintain law and order in order to reduce crime rates and disorder while protecting and serving the public. They are also required to enhance quality of neighborhood lives by serving community needs. Thus, the police should develop a working partnership with communities as part of community and problem-oriented policing (Walker, 2007). This research paper will focus on police accountability for corruption. It will compare police accountability in corruption in the Dominican Republic and United States.
Police Accountability for Corruption in Dominican Republic
Just like other nations, Dominican Republic has been facing challenges in developing a culture of trust between the public and the police. Police institutions across Dominican Republic are believed to be corrupt as they conduct themselves in manners abusing power. This has led members of public to perceive and believe police officers and agencies are neither honest nor committed in protecting them. Data on crime rates across the Dominican Republic affirm that acts of violence, problems of impunity, organized crimes, and corruption have been the main issues hindering the police to be accountable. The government has been striving to ensure the police are not corrupt as this issue has adversely impacted their abilities and skills to meet their mandates to the public. For the past two decades as stated by Stephen Randall and Juliana Ramirez, levels of violence and crime have been rising. For example, Mexico has been witnessing organized crimes increasing in the country. The public’s perception towards the role of police in maintaining law and order has been adversely changing as citizens believe criminals taking part in organized crimes are colluding with the police. Thus, levels of trust, confidence, and partnership between the public and the police have been declining and the integrity of the police being doubted (Randall, & Ramirez, 2011).
The police should be regarded as part of the solution rather than the problem. In Dominican Republic however, they have been engaging in corruption facilitating criminal activities to take place. Corruption has been hindering the police to guarantee civil order and justice by engaging in high levels of corruption encouraging and supporting criminals to continue engaging in delinquent and unlawful activities. The Dominican Republic has a formal office of an ombudsman for human rights tasked in ensuring the police are not politically swayed from their duty of protecting the citizens. The office also monitors police operations to ensure they are effectively and efficiently executed. Internal governance within police institutions has been relying on police reforms to achieve the desired results. Levels of corruption however, have continued to impact police operations negatively leading the public to raise and state their concerns. Ethical standards of conduct should be adhered to as police officers and agencies enforce policies maintaining law and order. Corruption however has led politics to interfere with police operations (Boer, & Fernhout, 2008).
According to Creative Commons Attribution International License, the Dominican Republic has been witnessing political policies support corrupt elements interfering with police institutions. Medina was elected into presidency with the promise of improving the government’s economic situation. Medina’s presidency however, has led to increased spending, misuse of public funds, and high levels of corruption. Social stagnation has remained palpable and corruption supported discrimination especially against Dominican Haitians and Haitians. The Rule of Law is also not properly executed as it has been greatly politicized for a prolonged period of time due to corruption. For example, judicial reforms including Criminal Procedure Code of 2004 have been implemented to enhance state security. Due to corruption however, they are being applied by the judiciary including judges to achieve personal gains. As a result, police officers and agencies cannot rely on them to execute their mandates as the political interference and corruption intimidates them (CCAIL, 2016).
Consequently, they are embracing corruption by colliding with powerful political figures impacting judicial reforms being implemented influencing how state order and law should be maintained. Citizens however, have not ceased to publicly claim the police are threatening and violating their civil rights. For example, women in the Dominican Republic affirm their civil rights were greatly violated by the police when they attempted to demonstrate legalization of therapeutic rape in 2014. The police were called upon to maintain law and order. However, powerful political figures keen to ensure legalization of therapeutic abortion was achieved ensured levels of corruption interfere with police operations. This led to several women being beaten, violated, and even raped. Dominican Republic police are therefore brutal while violating basic civil rights as corruption attributed to political interference supports hinders and discourages them to be accountable when maintaining law and order. This explains why cases of police killings were reported to increase in 2014 (CCAIL, 2016).
More so, Amnesty International reported police were also responsible for at least fifteen percent of homicides recorded across Dominican Republic. These revelations have led President Medina to promise more comprehensive police reforms. Creative Commons Attribution International License however notes that political interference facilitating corruption will hinder the police reforms to be formulated and implemented (CCAIL, 2016).
Police Accountability in Corruption in United States
United States has developed multiple mechanisms to exert control over police. According to Olusola Karimu, the mechanisms can be grouped into state or government control, internal or departmental control, and social control. The mechanisms complement each other to achieve accountability and support police operations in disciplinary procedures and activities including external regulations. The police however, ought to believe they can be entrusted with the active responsibility of correct performance while maintaining law and order. Police officers and agencies in United States have an effective internal system utilized to identify investigating, adjudicating, and punishing police found guilty of misconduct (Karimu, 2012).
For example, some police officers are found of engaging in corrupt operations. The internal system has been applied to identify potential dangerous police officers. Through computer data base, officers’ age, arrest rates, educational levels, disciplinary issues, reprimands, and civilian complaints among other variables can be tracked. The supervisors are required to rely on the variables to intervene against misconduct in the police force. This has played a major role in ensuring police officers are accountable for their actions and inactions. For example, the New York Police Department relies on an internal police accountability system known as CompStat Program. The police department relies on the program to reduce crime rates, enhance communities’ qualities of lives, and improve partnerships between police and the public (Karimu, 2012).
The public however often distrust internal control systems due to high levels of corruption. The public also believe the systems are secretive hence biased either against or towards police officers. Thus, they believe the internal control systems support corruption hindering police officers and agencies to be accountable for their actions and inactions. Various departments across United States have had to address criticism from the public as they are perceived to support the culture of corruption. The departments often respond swiftly to cases of violations. Recently, police departments across United States have been responding to police killings that are fuelled by racism. Police officers in United States have also been undergoing integrity tests especially those deployed in corruption prone areas. This proves police accountability has been adversely impacted due to levels of corruption being reported (Stone, 2007).
In United States, police officers and departments are accountable to multiple state organs and bodies including executive, legislative, and judicial agencies. For example, some police officers have had to answer directly to elected officials such as governors, senators, and mayors attempting to influence police strategies and tactics in maintaining law and order. The executive control exerted on political figures depends on their personalities and traditions. This is because some rely on police departments and agencies to further their political ambitions. The Rule of Law in United States is therefore influenced by court decisions and powerful political personalities as witnessed in the Dominican Republic. For example, courts ought to check cases of police abuse, killings, and violation of civil rights. There are however incidences police officers have neither been interrogated nor held accountable for unnecessary use of force and killing of innocent civilians due to corruption. Although the judiciary often initiates criminal proceedings to determine if the police officers should be held accountable for the alleged cases of misconduct, interference from various parties attributed to corruption ensures the cases are abandoned immaturely (Karimu, 2012).
The media has been exercising social control to affirm police officers are not accountable for corruption. For a long period of time, the media has reported that some police officers have been receiving payments from criminal gangs to allow them engage in their unlawful activities. Some police officers have also lost either their lives or jobs for failing to accept a bribe from criminal gangs. They are fired by their supervisors or killed by the gang members. Ultimately, police in United States are not accountable for corruption as cases of police abuse, extra judicial killing, racial police killings, violations, and illegal detentions are still being reported (Stone, 2007).
Methods of accountability for Corruption
According to Karimu, various proactive and reactive methods can be applied to ensure the police are accountable for corruption in United States, Dominican Republic, and other global nations. Foremost, constitutional guarantee of basic civil and human rights can serve as a limitation on police powers that can be exercised. This mechanism can be adopted as a proactive or preventive method that can intentionally control abuse of power by police departments and officers. The statutory provision on police operations with regards to policing laws and enforcement policies allied to exclusionary rules should therefore be embraced. This provision can enhance police accountability for corruption as it seeks to ensure police officers do not arrest, detain and torture suspects they have failed to provide evidence proving they ought to be prosecuted (Karimu, 2012).
For example, a police officer should not arrest, detain, and torture civilians claiming they are drug peddlers without providing evidence to prove they were caught in the act. This provision is bound to ensure corruption does not encourage extrajudicial and racially biased killings being perpetrated by police officers. It will also discourage police officers from pursuing opportunities they can rely on to abuse their powers and violate civilians’ human rights (Karimu, 2012).
All internal administrative systems and programs should also be reviewed. This mechanism will ensure police departments are not illegally protecting officers guilty of misconducts such as engaging in corruption and excessive use of power. The reviews should focus on police intakes per department. They should also investigate complaints against police officers filed in the department or agency by either civilians or colleagues. This is because some departmental heads receive bribes from powerful personalities in executive, judicial, and legislative organs to either bury or ignore complaints against police particular officers being used to further political ambitions. This reactive method should therefore focus on conducts of the police to ensure they are not abusing their powers and engaging in corruption (Walker, 2007).
Special investigations can also be undertaken by commissions seeking to address particular civilian complaints filed in the review board. For example, United States recently recorded an increase in the number of blacks killed by police officers. Civilians complained that the police were targeting blacks as they are racially biased and using excessive force or killing innocent victims. This reactive mechanism should therefore be embraced by United States and the Dominican Republic to ensure police officers are accountable for their actions and inactions. Consequently, cases of excessive use of power and police killings will decrease. More so, political personalities will cease to offer police departments and agencies bribes in order to further their ambitions (Stone, 2007).
Police accountability varies from external, internal, media, and public controls. For example, internal control to attain police accountability in United States involves training officers to be line commanders and supervisors and crime statistic reporters. It also provides police officers with skills to establish integrity, administrative, and discipline units. The state control on the other hand involves operational directions provided by appointed and elected political personalities (Walker, 2007).
Social control involves neighborhood safety community programs and organizations striving to ensure communities are safe. Civil rights organizations are present globally as they strive to provide legal presentation and support to persons who fall victim of police excessive use of force and abuse of power. They also negotiate with police departments and agencies to improve policies aimed at reducing tension between the police and the public. These mechanisms of control should be embraced across United States and Dominican Republic to ensure the police acknowledge several parties are keen in reviewing their conducts and accountability for corruption (Karimu, 2012).
Police accountability for corruption in United States is more effective that in Dominican Republic. This is because the Dominican Republic is facing socioeconomic challenges hindering the government to provide police departments with sufficient resources to fight corruption. More so, the Dominican Republic has a widespread market facilitating the sale and peddling of drugs. Police in the country are known to receive payments from drug cartels to avoid arresting the culprits and intercepting drugs in transportation. For example, several Mexican police officers have been receiving bribes from major cartel leaders to facilitate movement of drugs within and outside the country. These levels of corruption have led to police officers using excessive force and abusing their power to ensure the drug cartels remain in business. This has resulted in several civilians losing their lives, friends, and family members to police killings and drug overdose. These causes can be avoided if the police officers are accountable. The country however lacks community based policing initiatives that can collaborate with the police to reduce crime rates including peddling of drugs (Stone, 2007).
United States and Dominican Republic should therefore implement policies supporting community based policing initiatives. The support should be obtained from legal, political, and socioeconomic ranks as well as the media. The initiatives will ensure conduct, performance, and integrity of police departments and officers is reviewed regularly. Consequently, cases of incivility, brutality, killings, torture, and corruption among the police will decrease (Walker, 2007).
Recommendations to Enhance Police Accountability for Corruption
Foremost, professional bodies seeking to end police impunities should be established in both countries. Business communities in both countries should continue to get involved in ensuring the police are securing nations’ investments. Consequently, investors will acknowledge both nations are keen to protect their socioeconomic resources by enforcing laws police can rely on to safeguards citizens’ means of earning livelihoods (Walker, 2007).
The present community based policing initiatives and programs in each country should be revised. The reviews should ensure the initiatives and programs can effectively and efficiently develop partnerships between the police and communities. Consequently, police will build levels of trust and honesty with communities as they maintain law and order. More importantly, they will cease engaging in corruption as they will be keen in ensuring neither politician nor organized criminal gangs encourage them to abuse their powers. The community based policing initiatives and programs should also consider including representatives from various sectors. For example, they should include politicians, lawyers, teachers, farmers, and business people. This will ensure none of the sector engages in corrupt deals with the police for personal gains (Stone, 2007).
In order to achieve internal accountability among police in United States and the Dominican Republic, police performances should be regarded as serious and effective. For example, when police restrain violent demonstrators, they should not be criticized. Instead, they should be commended and encouraged to perform their duties. Consequently, they will cease using excessive force and abusing power as they are keen in improving relationships with minority groups and the community at large. Lastly, police departments should diversify their operations to reflect socioeconomic and sociopolitical integration in both countries. As a result, cases of political interference, discrimination and corruption impeding police accountability will cease as departments and officers will strive to uphold fundamental human rights while protecting and serving the public (Boer, & Fernhout, 2008).
In conclusion therefore, police accountability for corruption in United States and Dominican Republic has been lacking. Both nations should apply the mechanisms and recommendations discussed above to ensure the police are accountable. They will encourage the police to cease engaging in unethical activities encouraging misconducts and corruption. Consequently, the police will feel encouraged to protect and serve the public without feeling like unappreciated. This is because police engage in corruption for personal gains. For example, communities and the media in both countries have been criticizing them for abuse of power and extrajudicial killings. They fail to understand the pressure the police face in line of duty. Appreciating the efforts and performances of the police will therefore improve accountability in both countries.
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Randall, S., & Ramirez, J. (2011). Policing the police: Formal and informal police oversight mechanisms in the Americas. Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute.
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