Corruption is a universal social phenomenon that exists in any culture and thrives in any type of society. Many countries claim to have eradicated corruption. By the same token many people believe that corruption can only flourish in bureaucratic societies or post-communist countries where every single matter is controlled by the corrupt government. Even though such a belief is very popular, the reality does not support such an argument. Corruption is all-pervasive and cannot be eradicated completely and irrevocably. It exists everywhere in every stratum of society. However, most people associate corruption with the government, police, legal system and other entities that are somehow related to the control and allocation of public resources. The police are one of such public authorities that are responsible for maintaining order and justice in a society. A police department is very similar to other governmental bodies such as a court of law, or tax collection service, etc. It is a common belief that such organizations tend to be corruption-ridden for one simple reason. All theses public structures receive and distribute the tax-payers’ money, in other words there is no person totally interested in controlling the flow of funds like in a big corporation. A privately owned business is very different in terms of its ownership structure. There is a certain clearly defined group of people who own the business. It would be reasonable to assume that they are very much interested in controlling the monetary resources they invested in the business. Thus, there is a clear incentive to control the flow of resources in that kind of organization. A public organization that is not owned by any private entity is very different. It is very similar to a communist country where there is no clear line of command and responsibility. Even though the structure of the organization such as a police department generates favorable soil for corruption to flourish, the society must devise clearly outlined strategies in order to tackle this social vice that is definitely responsible for generating losses for the society and undermining the notion of justice, order, social equality and democracy.
To begin with it is necessary to identify the nature of corruption in general terms. Corruption seems to be inherent to any social structure. Also, it seems to be inherent to human nature since the cultural or social setting does not exert any influence on the possibility for corruption to thrive. Corruption exists in democratic countries like the United States of America or European countries. By the same token, corruption is present in post-communist societies and countries such as Indonesia, or Colombia. The similar thing among all those countries is that corruption is not restrained by geographic, political or cultural boundaries. However, the difference among the aforementioned societies lies in the level of corruption that a given society is willing to tolerate. It is no secret that countries like Indonesia are virtually ridden with corruption. A foreign businessman cannot open a store without paying bribes to local government officials for taking care of the paperwork and the local police for so-called security services. In case our imaginary businessman refuses to pay the police, his brand new store is very likely burn to the ground the very next day. Therefore, cultural and social aspects virtually define the role of corruption in a given social organization.
Corruption as a social phenomenon is especially salient in organizations like the police. The reason police are so susceptible and exposed to corruption is because of the organization structure of a police department. To illustrate, a police department does not generate any revenue and there is no private owner. The police are totally subsidized by the government. The government officials estimate the amount of funds that would spent by the police and create a budget based on those estimates. Therefore, a police department is a consumer of tax-payers money rather than a contributor to the state’s budget. The people who work in the police force are only motivated by financial incentives that come from the government in a form of salaries. People who stand on the various levels in the organizational ladder receive a very similar type of financial incentive. Thus, the head of a police department is only motivated by the salary that the government sets forth in exchange for the service. There is usually no additional motivation resulting from better and more diligent work. Therefore, if you work in the police it usually does not matter how hard and how diligently you work, because the salary is rarely affected by that quality of work factor. Therefore, low salaries and the absence of external motivation contribute to the spread of corruption. Police officers are motivated to accept bribes in exchange for more lenient treatment. Criminals who bribe the police are also better off eventually, because that way they escape punishment that they would have to accept otherwise. There is a clear mutual gain that is generated as a result of such a relationship. However, there is a clear cost that offsets the gain derived by the two parties as a result of such a transaction. The cost is associated with the credibility and significance of the law that is undermined and eventually annihilated by corruption. The state cannot exist without the law and justice; as soon as those two components are ruled out the society turns into a chaotic crowd. Therefore, it is the government’s responsibility to control the level of corruption and make the police render a service to the society.
Obviously, there are two issues that must be addressed in order to control corruption among police officers. The first essential component is legal restrictions and regulations that should be designed specifically to prevent the police from engaging in any of such transactions with criminals. There should be an anti-corruption department the task of which is to observe the operations of the police officers. This anti-corruption department should enforce the government’s policies concerning corruption. Those policies must be very strict and clear in determining the appropriate punishment for the police officers spreading corruption. The disciplinary actions may range from fines to expulsion from the police, even though some other punishment may be deemed appropriate depending on the situation. The bottom-line is that punishment must be clear and strict, so that people are aware of the potential severe consequences that such behavior can lead to. That is a basic technique that should be implemented in virtually every police department. Even though such a program may turn quite costly for the government, the result that it can potentially yield is obvious. The members of anti-corruption committee should be paid handsomely so that there is no sense for them to engage in corruption. Another strategy to control corruption is to increase the salaries of all police officers thus providing them with additional motivation. As it can be seen, all these techniques involve capital expenditures, and it is quite clear that corruption cannot be eradicated. The bottom-line is to control it at a certain acceptable level where the potential harm that corruption can do to a society is low.