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Police Corruption - Guest Writer

Updated: Apr 19, 2021

Message from editor (Annika Lilja): This article, written by Vivek Kommireddy, was written as a school project and was sent to me with the intent of posting to share with all of the viewers of this site! Please note that this is only one story about police and corruption within the department. It’s important to know that although corruption takes place, it's not the only thing going on within the department. The goal of this site is to not only get teens thinking about political issues by reading my articles, but to get us engaged and make our own ideas and thoughts heard. This is the first time having a guest writer on All Teen Politics and I am very much looking forward to having more! I always love to hear what you guys think and this is just the first step in a process to expand this website even more. Many more articles will be coming out in the future to explore and expand on this topic and I encourage you to look into it further! I plan to write about the good happening within the police, and why the bad is happening, as well the ideas that have been proposed to prevent issues like the ones we hear on the news. I think that Vivek did a great job giving a voice to a story that I had never heard of and I would just like to thank him for sharing his work with us!



My name is Vivek Kommireddy and I am currently in my last year of middle school. I got inspired to write this article because of the events that surround us today. In 2020, a man named George Floyd was killed because of a reckless cop using his power for his own good. No matter how severe, this occurs all across the world to many groups of people, some who don’t necessarily use their voice to convey what happened to them and how it could be stopped. Through writing this article, I plan on giving these people a voice they can count on.

 

Introduction

By definition, it’s a plague, having a definite source and taking innocent people along with

it. But what is police corruption? And how can justice be done to everybody affected by it?

Well, you're in for a ride full of deceit, injustice, and murky conspiracies.


Despicable Power

On September 24th, 1896, New York State Senator Clarence Lexow was made aware of a

police squad that was taking bribes from illegal businesses such as drug mafias and

gambling-house operators. These officers were collecting a monthly fee from these businesses that stretched from $50 - $100 in exchange for no interference with their illegal

activities. This particular act is called Extortion, which is the most common form of police

corruption. Extortion is when an officer demands or receives payment to overlook a crime

or a possible future crime. Types of extortion are protection for destroying evidence, selling

criminal info, and altering testimony. That is one of many forms of corruption in the police

taskforce, and it is probably the least serious of them all. But what if I told you that there

was a case in which the violators were accused of every possible corrupt act? Well, you

better believe it.


The Worst of the Worst

In 2015, A man named Freddie Gray died in a Baltimore Police Station because of a fatal

spinal injury that he experienced while in custody. As Freddie didn’t commit such a harsh

crime for an equal consequence, all eyes were turned to the officers who were assigned to

handle Freddie in his time at the station. These officers were criminally charged a few days

later and were sent to court for questioning, only to be acquitted and to be set free. Well,

not really. After the officers were set free, the lawyers who were assigned with the case

decided to dig deeper and investigate more about the officers. After a thorough search

through their records, what they discovered was not pretty.


All of the officers involved were part of a Baltimore police unit called the Gun Trace Task

Force, a squad which was tasked with getting all sorts of firearms off of the streets of

Baltimore. Instead of using their powers to do just that, they were using them to launder

thousands of dollars in raw cash and drugs. They targeted people who had a large criminal

background, such as ex-felons, and they blackmailed them for their money. This all

resulted in wrong convictions and jail time for the victim of these thefts, and sometimes

violence and even death. In 2017, the prosecutors finally gathered enough evidence to

successfully indict all of the officers involved with the crimes, securing convictions against

them. But even though the officers were removed, the reasons for why their rogue and

unacceptable behavior went unnoticed.


Journalists Baynard Woods and Brandon Soderberg are the authors of “I Got a Monster: The Rise and Fall of America’s Most Corrupt Police Squad”, a book about the unlawful ways the

task force led their lives. This book was released in a time when President Donald J. Trump

was blaming violence in cities on citizens, and the authors of the book wanted to share a

different perspective on why violence was happening so often in major cities. Their take on

the topic was that the reason for all the chaos was a lack of proper authorities. They noted

that the Baltimore task force was a prime example of why the crime rates were so high at

the time and that they were promoting the mindset that violence is ok, and even though it

is unlawful, anything should be done to ensure your success. Baynard Woods wrote the

following:


“If you strip away the contemporary discourse surrounding policing, the scenes that make

up this book, which play out on the streets of Baltimore, have more in common with a

conventional understanding of war and battle than anything that would be considered

policing in any other time or place in the world. And because it is a war, where all is fair and

stakes are high, police command and politicians looked the other way as long as plain

clothes units racked up arrests and brought in the statistics.”


What Woods means here is that no matter who you are, police or politician, what you are

trying to achieve always revolves around you. And especially since streets of Baltimore are

basically “at war,” anything is fair game.

 

Sources


Flatow, Nicole. “In Baltimore, Corrupt Police Show Limits of Reform.” Bloomberg,

Bloomberg, 28 Sept. 2020,

https://www.bloomberg.com/tosv2.html?vid=&uuid=89f01da0-9b17-11eb-a87b-b5ba2048f8e9&url=L25ld3MvYXJ0aWNsZXMvMjAyMC0wOS0yOC9pbi1iYWx0aW1vcmUtY29ycnVwdC1wb2xpY2Utc2hvdy1saW1pdHMtb2YtcmVmb3Jt


Holmes, Leslie. “Police Corruption.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology, Oxford,

27 Aug. 2020

https://oxfordre.com/criminology/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190264079.001.0001/acrefore-9780190264079-e-633


Chira, S. (2021, March 27). Police corruption: The record. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from

https://www.themarshallproject.org/records/2528-police-corruption


Image from:

Sabetian, S. (2020, September 23). Police corruption is becoming a pandemic too - news.

Retrieved March 27, 2021, from

https://www.transparency.org/en/news/police-corruption-is-becoming-a-pandemic-too





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