Officer Conduct Review Board

Officer Conduct Review Board

CJ 340

Purdue University Global

Officer Conduct Review Board

The way a law enforcement officer conducts themselves both on and off duty is paramount to the perception of professionalism and trust of the entire police force. Therefore, any actions which discredit this higher standard of professionalism should be handled accordingly. Leadership within a police department must ensure that proper corrective action is being implemented when necessary in order to maintain a high level of discipline among its officers. There have been three recent cases of officer interactions with the public brought to the attention of the review board. The board has decided on a course of action on each of the cases as follows.

In scenario 1, the video depicts one male and one female Metropolitan Police Department police officer which the male police officer was holding a woman off the ground and pinning her against his patrol vehicle. The woman was later self-identified as a teacher named Shannon. From the posted video, it was unknown what happened prior to the recorded incident or what Shannon did to provoke the officer to act that way. Nevertheless, the male officer should not conduct himself in a manner unbecoming of an officer. This review board committee finds the male officer of misconduct but excusable. These are the conditions of the corrective training approach: a one-year counseling letter will be remained in his personnel file along with mandatory training in Interpersonal Communication skills and use of force.

First, let’s look at the action of the male officer. The video shows that Shannon was alone with no visible weapons when she was approached by the male officer. There was not any noticeable resistance from Shannon. The male officer was holding Shannon in the air with her arms behind her back while pinning her to his SUV at the same time. According to U.S. Department of Justice, Miller (2017) finds that civilians deaths caused by excessive force in the U.S. is around 375 per year while the number of felons killed by police in 2010 was 387. Miller (2017) also finds in a recent study by the Los Angeles Police Department, most of excessive force cases were the results of the same group of police officers who are simply ignored policies. On top of that, the departments failed to hold supervisors accountable when officers under their watch use excessive force. This is inherent with Belmonte’s (2019) suggestion of low supervisory visibility, low public exposure, and the secrecy of peers group. There is no telling whether the male officer will act irrationally again; however, use of excessive force will be dealt with accordingly. Excessive force will not be tolerated in this department as it will damage the department’s reputation and undermine the authoritative figure of all police officers. As mentioned above, the male officer committed a misconduct but excusable act. He will be undergone retraining on IPC skills and have a 1-year counseling letter in his personnel file.

The interesting thing is that there are two hypotheses of corruption that can be seen in this video even when the act was done by the male police officer: the rotten-apple and the structural or affiliation. The structural or affiliation hypothesis can be seen in the female officer. Sociologists Jullian B. Roebuck and Thomas Barker explains that police corruption is not an isolated deviance of individual officers, but rather as a group of police officers sets the standards which linked to an organization with deviance individual officers (Character and Cops, 6th Edition, 2018). In other words, when a new, young, and ambitious police officer joins the organization and watch other seniors police officers committing corruption on the daily basis, that young police officer will eventually give in to corruption because it is the norms. Dalattre (2018) adds that very few police officers expect repercussions from corruption exchanges.

The Rotten-apply hypothesis could represent those few officers or, in this case, the male officer. The environment is not the only explanation on why police officers commit to corruption. Sometimes, it is simply the character of the police officer. Dalattre (2018) finds that the Chicago Crime Commission suggests that poor recruitment process had permitted unqualified candidates join the ranks. Therefore, if the actions of the male officer are not met with consequences, other officers can see excessive force is not frown upon and it is normal to conduct themselves that way. The female officer watched how the male officer acted toward Shannon: aggressive, combative, and excessive. She and the rest of the department could think that he was justified; sanctioned by the department; and was acting within the parameters of department policies.

This committee understands and recognizes the police culture and work environment can impact negatively on a person’s psychological and behavioral. The male police officer will be afforded opportunities to consult with the Employee Assistance Program to talk about obtaining potential help with family, finance, or psychological issues (Miller, 2017). The nature of law enforcement work can expose police officers to extreme violent and trauma. Therefore, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a major stressor in most police officers’ impropriety cases. The health and welfare of police officers are the utmost importance in this department. Furthermore, this department will launch an annual mandatory training on basic police operations and policies such as: sexual harassment prevention training, equal opportunity training and ethics training. All training records will be kept and officers who failed to comply will face disciplinary actions. This department will also take and investigate all allegations against any officers seriously. Officers who are involved with ill-doing activities will be processed according to department policies.

In Scenario 2, the event shown by J. Earle (2016), details an incident in Gainesville Florida involving Officer Bobby White. Officer White was dispatched for a report of children playing basketball loudly in the street. Upon arrival, Officer White makes contact with a teen who is indeed playing basketball in the street. To the surprise of the teen, the officer says, “Can you believe someone’s calling to complain about kids playing basketball in the street; can you believe that?” Officer White and the child then begin to shoot some hoops, which attracts the attention of other children in the neighborhood, who also join the officer in a game.

The review board has found there to be no misconduct in this situation. Office White has displayed behavior and characteristics that other officers should strive to emulate. Through his actions, Officer White has gained trust among the teens in that neighborhood through his example of community-oriented policing. When police officers exhibit the human element, and make themselves more approachable, they can build bonds with members of a community. With a high level of trust, members of the community are more likely to work with police and report crimes in the future. Small acts of kindness such as displayed by Officer White do in fact have a positive impact on the community and their overall opinion of police officers and law enforcement.

A study conducted by Yale University (2019) in partnership with the New Haven Police Department and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has shown that instances of Community Oriented-Policing do in fact change people’s opinions of police officers, especially those who previously had negative opinions of police officers. The study surveyed individuals’ opinions of police and other government agencies prior to a door to door Community-Oriented Policing campaign. Multiple follow up surveys were conducted after the event, which has shown an overall increase in support and perception of the police (Yale University 2019).

In scenario 3, an officer’s conduct is in question after a teen pool party confrontation in Dallas, TX (Fox News, 2015). Law enforcement officers are always under stress and pressure, and there could be a breaking point that can be triggered by different situations. In scenario 3, several officers responded to a disturbance call at a pool party. Some non-residents were seen at the pool. The You Tube video that the media released shows when one of the officers takes action. This officer throws a teenage girl to the ground and pulls on her. Her friends are upset and are yelling, while a young boy goes towards the officer, the officer then decides to pull out his gun, even after the teen gets away. In this scenario, the officer obviously lost his temper and reacted without thinking. First off, there are different ways to approach an issue and different ways to speak to people. When dealing with teenagers, some will talk back to you and might not take an officer seriously. These are minors, the officer is dealing with therefore, thinking before acting is a priority. The officer in this scenario lost his cool and pulled out his gun on a group of teenagers. Our review committee has found this officer actions inexcusable and excessive, his misconduct was intentional. There will be an investigation with a 30-day suspension without pay and the officer will be reassigned to an administrative position throughout the investigation. A reduction in rank will not be necessary if all conditions, programs and training are completed. The officer will receive additional training every 6 months for 2 years. Counseling with a certified counselor or psychologist, until cleared for anger and stress management.

Bachelder & Gremel (1950) discuss when it is appropriate for an officer to pull his or her gun. Officers have procedures they must obey and follow, but also need to protect themselves when they feel they are in immediate danger; therefore, they are not restricted when they can use deadly force that can be justified. There are other non-lethal weapons that can be used when they feel that they might get attacked but are not sure, such as using a taser gun or pepper spray. As in this scenario, the teenagers at the pool party where being rude but the officer was accompanied by other fellow officers, who would have protected him if needed. The officer was not in immediate danger, but if the officer felt that he was he should have used a taser or pepper spray instead of pulling out his gun. In the report from Fox News, the reporter mentions that the officer has been recognized by his department as officer of the year in 2008 and had a good reputation. This officer holds a duty of providing a good example to other officers. The officer in scenario 3 also handled the 14-year-old teenage girl with excess force even after she had already been sitting down, he grabbed her and pulled her and pinned her. The teenage girl was not a threat to the officer, but it looks as he took his anger out on that teenage girl.

Officers may use deadly for when a suspect has committed a felony and is resisting arrest or is fleeing a crime scene after committing a felony. An officer may also use deadly force if there are suspicious that the suspect committed a felony or has a weapon that can put others or himself in a dangerous situation. It is obvious, that this officer in scenario 3, did not control his emotions and overreacted to the situation. This is an example of a bad apple theory. The reason being that he acted in an inexcusable and excessive way abusing his authority. This officer had other options such as not pulling out his gun but instead using a taser, controlling his anger, and handling the unarmed young 14-year old girl in a less abusive way. The officer is abusing his authority and is making other officers look as if they are also bad apples. This officer needs to recall the mission of a police officer, and maintain order, and protect liberty (Delattre, 2018). Our review committee, understands that the officer can be suffering from post-dramatic stress and was triggered when he approached the scene, consequently not making the right and ethical decisions when under pressure. According to Dr. Ellen Kirshman:

“There are approximately 900,000 sworn officers in the United States. According to some studies –19% of them may have PTSD. Other studies suggest that approximately 34% suffer symptoms associated with PTSD but do not meet the standards for the full diagnosis.”

Therefore, we recommend additional training and counseling until cleared by a physician. This Dallas officer must get proper training in de-escalation and stress management. Through the investigation, we need to find out why did he react the way he did, and his other colleagues took another approach?

Law enforcement officers are trusted by the communities that they serve. Therefore, they are inherently held to a higher standard of ethics. It is up to leadership within each police department to ensure that laws, policies and ethical standards are upheld. Any instance of misconduct should be dealt with accordingly in order to ensure that trust is maintained, and the community can be confident in the ethics displayed by their police force.


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Miller, L.S., More, H. W., Braswell, M. C. (20170117). Effective Police Supervision, 8th Edition [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from vbk://9781315400808

Yale University (2019, September 16). Study finds community-oriented policing improves attitudes toward police. Retrieved from