Cooper H., Moore, L. Gruskin, S., and Krieger, N. (2004). Characterizing perceived police violence: Implications for public health. Am J Public Health. 94(7):1109–1118. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.94.7.1109
Hannah Cooper from the Medical Health and Research Association of New York, Inc. carried out the main bulk of the research for a study which characterized the perception of police violence in terms of public health by comparing a group of non-drug users to a group of drug users in NYC.
Three other authors contributed to the research design, the analysis of data and the interpretation of the results. Lisa Moore from the Department of Health Education, San Francisco; Sofia Gruskin from the Department of Population and International Health and Nancy Krieger from the Department of Society, Human, and Health. Gruskin and Krieger are both located at the Harvard School of Public Health Development. The use of excessive force by police has been defined as a form of violence by the World Health Organization. Little research has been accomplished on the topic so that was the reason this study was initiated. Qualitative data was collected from a NYC precinct in 2000 that was the location of a police drug crackdown.
The participants were all male. Even if they were drug-users or non-drug-users they “reported police physical, psychological, and sexual violence, and neglect” (Cooper et al., p. 1109). Their perception was that the police abuse was based on racial prejudice and the use of tactics designed for crackdowns on drug use. The authors concluded that police violence is a human rights issue and a public health concern. This type of police misconduct can cause physical and mental illness. The researchers recommended working with a variety of disciplines, the community, and the police departments in order “to identify strategies that reduce violence with out increasing police perpetrated abuse” (Cooper et al., p. 1116).
Drug Policy Alliance. (2004) Police, Drugs, And Corruption: A review of recent drug war-related scandals in five states and Puerto Rico. http://www.drugpolicy.org/docUploads/police_corruption_report.pdf
The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) described an overwhelming amount of police scandals related to drugs. The US General Accounting Office reported “that from 1993 to 1998 the FBI opened at least 400 state and local police corruption cases that were drug-related, leading to the conviction of over 300 officers” (DPA, p. 1). The article then describes more recent scandals dating from 1999 to 2001 in Texas, California, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, and Puerto Rico. The scandals included law enforcement officers selling drugs racial prejudice, charges of theft, and fake cocaine. One of the most scandalous cases is called “Rampart” which involved corruption of a number of Los Angeles anti-drug police units. Police were charged with stealing drugs, drug dealing, torture, murder and putting the blame on innocent people. The study recommendations included passing legislation to prevent innocent people being convicted on the word of a person, such as an undercover agent, and no corroborating evidence. HB2351 was passed in the Texas legislature “to prevent a drug conviction based solely on the testimony of an informant” (DPA, p. 2). Other recommendations included legislating reliable drug tests on alleged illegal drugs, a ban on racial profiling, timing of the seizure of property, and increasing federal funds to be used for corruption investigations local and state law enforcement corruption and civil rights abuses. (DPA, p. 4)
Mieczkowski, T. (2004) Drug Testing the police: Some results of urinalysis and hair analysis in a major US Metropolitan police force. Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine, 11(3): 115-122. http://ac.els-cdn.com/S1353113103001524/1-s2.0-S1353113103001524-main.pdf?_tid=19c6fae6-54dc-11e3-a65f-00000aab0f26&acdnat=1385279188_5b8bef9f9b15137a88bea5c5d48d2d8c
Tom Mieczkowski (2004) from the Department of Criminology at the University of Florida, Tampa, Florida conducted a drug screening was conducted of police in an East coast big city from 1985 to 1999. Mieczowski (p. 115) noted that the police officers face “’grey zones’ of normative behaviour, discretion” and the on-the-job independence coupled with interactions with crime and criminals create opportunities for corruption. “Police corruption is characterized by a relationship that is beneficial for the officer and may or may not be beneficial for citizens involved with the corrupt officer” (p. 115). Drug-related corruption by police can be categorized by six types of behaviour. An officer might accept bribes from drug dealers and/or traffickers for giving tips about ongoing investigations, undercover officers, informants and other relevant information. Bribes have been taken by officers for activities such as not making an arrest, lying about the circumstances and tampering with evidence.
Officers steal drugs from property rooms or police laboratories for their own use or to sell. Drugs can be seized from criminals but the arrest and paperwork are never turned in so the officers can have the drugs for themselves. Officers have stolen profits in cash and drugs from drug dealers and/or drug traffickers. Extortion of drug traffickers for money or consumer items like televisions or stereos happens and no arrests or drug seizures occur in exchange. The research demonstrated that for consecutive years of urinalysis officers on probation tested close to 0 percent drug positive and working officers tested between a range of approximately 0.6 percent drug positive to close to zero. The applicants for the police department tested the highest showing a range of 2.5 percent to close to zero percent drug positive.