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Behind the Badge: Unmasking and Preventing Police Corruption

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Content provided by Steve and Organized Crime. All podcast content including episodes, graphics, and podcast descriptions are uploaded and provided directly by Steve and Organized Crime or their podcast platform partner. If you believe someone is using your copyrighted work without your permission, you can follow the process outlined here https://ro.player.fm/legal.

Title: Behind the Badge: Unmasking and Preventing Police Corruption

Original Publication Date: 11/8/2023

Transcript URL: https://share.descript.com/view/3mw7dv9a5a8

Description: In this episode, we delve into a crucial topic: Police Corruption and the challenges officers face daily. We'll also discuss effective measures to prevent such corruption in law enforcement. This episode features 20 year police captain and police fiction author Frank Scalise. https://www.frankzafiro.com/

#PoliceCorruption #LawEnforcement #CommunityPolicing #PreventCorruption #PoliceAccountability

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Begin Transcript:

[00:00:00] Welcome to Organized Crime and Punishment, the best spot in town to hang out and talk about history and crime, with your hosts, Steve and Mustache Chris.

I started to think about another form of, I guess it could be corruption, and it comes out of the fact that policing, like just about anything else, Is a lot more subjective than it is the objective and, uh, and baseball. Now they have it where they have the AI calling balls and strikes and. Seriously, it's experimental and, uh, and then they'll go to it.

Uh, if, uh, they can, that you can challenge [00:01:00] it. But there's a lot of subjectivity to a ball and a strike. Now you could have it where you see somebody who maybe rolls through a stop and, uh, should I give them a ticket? Did I really see it the right way? But you could also see it where somebody blows past a stops, uh, stop red light past the school bus.

But it's 10 minutes before your shift is supposed to end and you really don't feel like staying over. And I got to get my kid to this and that, and, uh, I'm not going to, that's got kind of a corruption in a way. Well, policing requires a great deal of discretion. That's no question. And I think if you're going to examine but.

Apples to apples is a better way to look at it, right? So if you're talking about somebody rolling through a stop, are you working that intersection? Are you writing tickets? You stop. I stopped Chris. I don't know him. He gets a [00:02:00] ticket. I stopped Steve. We went to high school together. In fact, we play baseball together.

Uh, you know, I'm going to give you a warning this time. Is that correct? You know, I was not a traffic count. I, I gave a lot of warnings and my, my rule of thumb essentially was, is if I stopped you and we had a short conversation and I thought that our conversation had a likelihood of affecting your future behavior, then I didn't see the need for something punitive.

To, to do it. If you just basically wouldn't admit that you ran through the stop sign or you were a jerk or whatever, it's clear. I wasn't going to impact your future behavior. Then my only other option was, well, let's see if a financial penalty will influence your future. Because my role is to, it's not to do anything about the stop sign you just ran.

It's to stop you from doing it again, because that's how I make that intersection safe. Well, you know, there's a lot of discretion. That's discretion, right? I mean, if I talk to Chris and he's a jerk and I don't know it and he gets a ticket and I talked to Steve and I went to high school with him and he's like, [00:03:00] yeah, man, that was stupid.

I normally don't do that. I will never do that again. If I will try to never do that again. I'm really sorry. And I cut you a break. Is that corruption? Because I didn't treat you equally. I may have treated you fairly, but I didn't treat you equally. And so even when you go apples to apples, it's hard, you know, you could get into long discussions, which we did in the leadership course, the ethics section, especially, but throughout the entire course, we got into discussions like this about what corruption was.

Was this okay? Was that okay? What variables would impact whether it was okay or not? And I mean, I found Canadians to be, uh, much more, uh, much less tolerant of. Bad behavior, but also much more reasonable in, like, common sense ways of handling things than in some of the places I was in the States. I mean, we're not all idiots down here.

That got a lot of good answers from US officers too, but it's an interesting conversation, but you do kind of have to be apples to apples. Otherwise it doesn't entirely work. Right? So, but lots of [00:04:00] discretion and and with discretion comes the capability or the possibility of an error in judgment or.

Purposeful corruption that can happen. I was going to say you mentioned something about the trees. Um, like, uh, like the police officers focused on like the individual tree where like the organization is like focused on the forest, right? That's exactly how I would like a police officer to kind of view his job.

Like, how can I make a difference in this, say one individual's life? Like, every day that I'm on the job, I know that's not, you're not going to make a difference every day, obviously, but like, when you have an opportunity to be able to make a difference, say, in one person's life, you mentioned the, like, how can I talk to this person?

So hopefully they don't run through a red light again, you know, or how can I stop this robbery? Or maybe it could actually sit and talk to this criminal or whatever that we had to arrest in the backseat when we're driving them, you know, to where he has to go. And maybe I can say something to him or, or he.

Maybe thanks twice [00:05:00] about what he's doing with his life. Um, to me, that's like, probably the most effective type of policing. If you can go into, and it sounds odd because, you know, like, I'm not a police officer, I'm not going to lie. I don't know a ton of police officers in my life. I got the mustache for it.

Uh, I need to get some aviators. Um, you know what I mean? So that's the way I would like. To view it like there was a part of me when I was growing up, always kind of wanted to be a police officer slash, uh, like, uh, detective always been fascinated by, like, murder mysteries and things of that nature. Um, it's just, I don't know.

It just never happened. But, uh, that's the way I would view the job is like, how can I make a difference in this 1 individual's life? Because to a certain degree, you have a fair amount, a certain amount of power to be able to actually do that. Um, To me, that was the most kind of effective policing. I find a lot of the interactions that I've not so much me personally.

I'm not [00:06:00] ton of interactions with cops, but, uh, the couple that I have, um, I just found like, uh, there was a couple of police officers. We had like, good conversations, like, just simple stuff, you know, like, uh, traffic stuff or what have you, uh, But there was like other times they just didn't seem like they were really interested at all and trying to make a difference.

Well, you bring up a great point. And that is that, you know, uh, the, the person to person connection is the most effective connection. And when you start your career in law enforcement and you're young and your uniform is bright and your badge is not scuffed at all, your shoes are shine, your haircut's fresh and all that.

Um, there's good guys, bad guys, and victims and witnesses, and that's it. It's a very, it's a very black and white kind of world. And at some point in your career, if you're paying attention, you come to the realization that for the most part, people are people. And while there may be two or three people [00:07:00] you come across in your career that are truly evil, whatever that means, that's majority of people.

They're making bad choices in their bad situations. And if you can make a difference in their life in any way, you should try it and you're not going to save everybody. You're not going to make an impact on everybody. Some people don't want it. Some people won't accept it. Some people don't actually need it, but you have to try where you think you Can try and I think your point is, is valid as well in that if you are trying, people appreciate that.

I mean, you go to a foreign country and you try to speak the language, don't they love it? You know, they, they, they help you. They appreciate your effort. I think if you're in a service position and you're trying to help people, even if they don't really need the help or they're still going to appreciate and you certainly have the opportunities within law enforcement to those differences.

Um, quick, quick story, real quick story. Okay. It's, it's summertime here, which means spring cleaning, cause my wife's a teacher. So stuff happens. I'm sure you're familiar with that, uh, process. See, you know, stuff that has been waiting all year to get done. It's start getting done, going through a lot of [00:08:00] stuff, goodwill visits, you know, those things, kinds of things.

Going through some old paperwork, throwing out old receipts and all kinds of stuff. And I came across a letter that a guy wrote me from my time on patrol. It's one of the few things I kept from my law enforcement career. And I didn't remember it. Really, when I got the letter, I had to think about it a little while and read his letter to remember the incident.

But in his letter, he credits me with saving his life. And, and I remember what happened after I read it. And I just basically talked to the guy. He got stabbed in the heart and I talked to him and rode with him to the hospital in case he died on the way to the hospital because he was a victim. And. Talk to him and kind of, you know, try to be positive and everything.

And he survived and he credited me being there with saving his life. Now, did I save his life? No, the doctor did, or he wasn't going to die anyway, but I made that impact. And, and, and the reason that impact happened was because I was trying. Um, and, and, you know, the guy was in all honesty, the guy was kind of a criminal.

It wasn't a bad criminal, but he was, you know. A mediocre crew and I [00:09:00] ran his record up and I was like, oh, guy's kind of a durang, but he's just a guy, right? He's a person and, and, and so you know that person to person connection matters. And so I think your view of it, Chris, is actually really bang on Steve here again, we are a member of the Parthenon podcast network, featuring great shows like Josh Cohen's, eyewitness History, and many other great shows.

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In all your time, did you see that there's been a change in police or maybe even geographically, that sort of the, the, the. The thin blue line, like we're on this side and you're on that side. And, uh, could that be a factor of that? A lot of departments are cutting back. So cops are seeing a lot more of the really bad stuff.

They're not getting to [00:10:00] do some, some more of the soft scale stuff. They're doing a lot more of the hard stuff. So they're, they're building up a barrier between them and the public. You know, that's always been a factor. Um, One of the things about policing is, and I mean, really teaching is the same way. If you think about it, Steve, um, you know, people think they know your job because they've interacted with you or they seen cop shows or in your case, they went to school.

Yeah, so they think they know what teaching is. They think they know what policing is. They know you're there to serve them in some capacity. They pay your salary. And they're more than happy to remind you of that. Um, and they have certain expectations, not all of which are realistic. They underestimate the amount of work teachers do, for example, the end, they overestimate the amount of authority that officers have sometimes underestimated other times.

And so. When you're dealing with the public, sometimes it can, you know, it can be frustrating. These kinds of things can be frustrating. And then it's an understanding factor. Um, I won't equate [00:11:00] policing and what police go through with what soldiers go through in war in terms of intensity and frequency, because I think they're different.

Scenarios, I think one is far more, uh, is far bigger than the other, I guess, for lack of a better term, but I do think they're on the same frequency to a degree. You see some terrible things. You deal with some terrible things. You have to put up a bit of a shell in order to avoid cracking under the emotional onslaught of those things, both the.

Immediacy of the event and the cumulative effect of it over years. And then again, you throw into that the public's response and they're, you know, all the stuff I just talked about the public and it all starts to grind on you and who understands that, you know, well, other cops understand that there are other people who do too, but that's, that's an easy one, right?

Other cops understand. And so. You know, there's an old, I can't remember the guy that did the course, but he [00:12:00] talks about emotional, like saving yourself emotionally as a cop. And he talks about how, when you come on the job, you've got all these friends, you know, your high school friends, your college friends, your sports friends, your drinking friends, your whatever hobby friends, your family or whatever.

And little by little, you kind of start carving them out because, you know, they don't want to hear about the dead baby at the barbecue, you know, and. And more to the point, you can't talk about it. It's not even that that you do and they go, what the hell are you talking about? It's more often that you don't talk about it.

You can't talk about it. So as slowly your circle kind of tightens and and your trust circle tightens right along with it. You end up being surrounded by nothing but other cops. And so in what attitudes. are normalized is all cop attitudes, right? And so, uh, do you become tribal? Do you become clannish?

Does the thin blue line become a factor? It does. And I think that's a natural human behavior given what's going on. No, it's like, I'll use an example. I'm trying to [00:13:00] think, uh, on this couple of years now, but you guys remember the, the guy in Florida that was on bath salts and, uh, he was, uh, I think it was eating that guy's face underneath the bridge.

Like, can you imagine being the police officer that showed up to that situation? They ended up, I think they ended up having to shoot the guy. Um, uh, and they killed him there. Just go like, Oh yeah, I'm just going to go. You know, talk to my high school friends about what I just saw and just experience like, no, you're going to be talking to like, well, they're talking about the lawnmower that they just bought.

And I could speak from personal experience, like, not to get whatever. I don't mind talking about it. Like, I lost my dad when I was quite young and I was the 1 that, uh, found them and. You know, 15 year old, uh, me, who am I going to go talk to? Who could understand that amongst your peers? And like, I'm going to talk to a bunch of other kids that are, you know, they're more concerned about like what video game they're going to buy.

Well, at least at the, at the [00:14:00] time that's, or, you know, what girl they're going to pick up or what have you. And I'm sitting there and I'm just like, I just saw this and like. There's no one for me to really talk to, you know, if there were like other people at the time to talk to naturally, I, I would have just gravitated towards them because they had experienced something similar.

It's very, uh, it just, it makes a lot of sense. I think also related to that is, uh, to what you were saying, Frank, about, uh, you can be familiar with the public when you're on duty. But with teaching and a lot of where there's an authority aspect, you can't be too chummy because eventually there's going to be a, there's a line you can't cross where there is an authority and a power differential.

And then throw in the factor that as a police officer, you are correctly trained that there is potential danger everywhere. Now, that doesn't mean everybody's [00:15:00] dangerous and they're going to try to hurt you. You don't have to run around paranoid thinking. Oh, my God, Chris is going to reach to the screen right now and throttle me.

I need to get my hands up. But then again. You don't know, and the thing about police work is like, you're not in constant danger, but you're in constant danger of being in danger. If that makes any sense. It's not 1 of the 10 most dangerous jobs by by statistics, you know, most years, but it's that latent.

Very real threat that something could happen at any moment. My help could be needed. Somebody could be placed in danger. I could be placed in danger. I may need to act in a way that's going to change my life and everybody else's life that's involved. And I'm going to have about 1. 3 seconds to decide exactly how I'm going to resolve that situation.

And people are going to spend months and maybe years pouring over that decision and second guessing it. And that's what you're up against. And so, I mean. For cops to be clannish, for cops to be standoffish, for cops to be suspicious. This is why. Um, I'm not excusing it like [00:16:00] it's a good thing. I'm just explaining why it, why it does occur and why it doesn't make, it's not because they're being evil, you know, they're not being, you know, it's not like they have character flaws.

It's a natural response to the stimula that they're faced with. And not just, and again, over a period of time, decades in some instances, and it's institutionalized. Like I was only on for 20 years, but in year one, I was feeling the impact of the previous 20 years. I mean, when did Rodney King happen? 1988, something like that.

It might've even been later, a little later than that too. I was, I know I was over in Germany at the time in the military. So it had to happen between 88 and 91. Either way. It happened in LA in the late eighties. Let's say I'm in a, in Spokane in 93, I'm a police officer and I'm getting told, don't Rodney King, me, you know, by people.

So it's not just the weight of your own experience that you feel in that profession, but it's the weight of, of the [00:17:00] collective cultural experience and the collective experience of the profession. Um, and again, I, I know we're getting a little far field from the. The, the, the topic of, of corruption, but I think it's related because certainly if corruption is part of that culture, you feel it, right?

You're faced with, uh, so it's, it, it is a difficult job and, and we were talking to Steve in the, in the pre funk, uh, a few weeks ago about how, how a similar teaching is in many ways, uh, uh, and my wife's a teacher. So we've had this conversation. And so if anybody wants to see it on, on display, Okay. Then done with expert writing and directing and acting season four, the wire is perfect, near perfect explanation of how the two professions, uh, have a lot of similarities.

You mentioned that like the, the, uh, the dangerous aspect of being a police officer and I find it's, uh, being a police, it's unique in the sense of how unpredictable could be like, you could be pulling a guy [00:18:00] over for running red light and he's got a dead body in the trunk. Potentially, he pulls out a gun or a dead body in the trunk.

Uh, or like, if you're like a firefighter. You know, going into that fire every time you go, like, it's in a sense, it's predictable. And like, it's dangerous, you know, exactly what's going to happen. Like, maybe the house collapses or what have you. Or if you're even like a soldier, I know there's unpredictable things that happen essentially.

Oh, you drove down this road a 1000 times and, you know, there's an RPG could come and hit your truck or what have you, but you're driving and. Yeah. A war zone. So you kind of know to a degree that you have to constantly be on your feet where like a police officer, you have to constantly be on your feet, obviously, right?

But I can see how it would be easy to kind of let your guard down. It's like, Oh, I'm just pulling over an SUV or something like that. And like a Toyota RAV4 and. Somebody pulls a, pulls out a knife or a gun and starts shooting for any reason, who knows, you know, they, maybe they have drugs in the [00:19:00] car or something like you, like, uh, something of that nature.

I could see where, uh, with the, the way a lot of the wars were going, like in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Vietnam to a certain degree, that it is very similar in that The soldiers didn't know necessarily they could be walking through a town or a village that they thought was safe. And then they do get hit with a R.

  1. G. or an I. E. D. or something like that, like not knowing what the danger is. It's I'm in a. It's very similar in a way in that, that that's where the PTSD and those things start to kick in is when you're getting hit with that stress, that it's constant, but it's fluctuating and you don't know whether you're safe or whether you're completely unsafe.

That probably is. There is gotta be some overlap it's one to one because I wouldn't want to insult people who have been in a war zone. Um, and maybe like a Venn diagram type. [00:20:00] Yeah, yeah, I think you're right. I think there's a, there's a, there's crossover for sure. And, and, and the constant threat of there being a threat is it's draining.

It definitely is draining and it causes you to always keep a part of yourself in reserve. And it causes yourself causes you to always be on guard. And this is easily and not unreasonably by the, by the public. Interpreted as being aloof, suspicious, arrogant, uh, you know, paranoid, you know, a number of different adjectives can be applied to it.

And you understand why the public might think that, but that's what's going on there. You know, the thing about policing that you have to remember, of course, is an incredible amount of responsibility is given to police and therefore an incredible amount of power. To accomplish what they're responsible for is given to them.

And you know what they say about power, right? That comes right back to our original topic of corruption is, is it can it can [00:21:00] happen. I think that in these environments, maybe where there's a good community. Police relationship, and there's a lot of trust there. You know, that's another obstacle to any corruption taking place because I mean, we're basic.

We're pretty basic creatures when you break it down to our core behaviors and and, you know, we don't want to disappoint people we care about. Like, I don't want, I don't want my wife to be disappointed. Me, her opinion matters. And, and, and, you know, you may have a boss or a parent, a good friend that you feel that same way.

And I think if police departments and police members have that kind of a relationship with the community, they don't want to let the community down. So they're going to be on guard against that. Now, if you're in a community. That is itself corrupt that takes on a completely different dynamic, right? And that's, that's a different conversation.

Trust is such a fragile thing. You could be doing the best you can and you're, you're doing a great job, a great job. And then 1 [00:22:00] major mistake can completely shatter that trust. And it's a, it's a, it is a very. All these different, the, the grid work, really the lattice of power and corruption and good and not so good and all that.

It really is a very complicated situation. And that's why I'm so glad we had you on to really discuss this. Well, and I think I would leave you with the idea, uh, that one element that matters a lot in addressing this is always going to be leadership. And I remember when I was a patrol officer or detective, I was like, I don't care about my leaders.

They don't do my job. They don't know my job. I know my job. I do my job. All they do is occasionally get in the way. And I'll bet if you pulled any. Profession anyway, I bet teachers feel the same way about principles half the time. You know, I mean, I bet I bet that's how you feel [00:23:00] about some of your bosses.

It's your job to Chris and you don't have to say. So, because it's not a big business, you don't hang yourself, but don't get it. But my point is that, uh. That we're all wrong, right? We do take our cues from leadership. It's human nature and not necessarily a 1 to 1. I see my boss, Steve, do this or my boss, Chris do that.

And so I'm going to do the same thing, but they set the tone. They set what's acceptable. I mean, imagine a situation if if you have a difficult. Difficult case happening where maybe there's somebody in danger and you're trying to get a suspect to confess to some information, um, about where maybe a missing child is.

I mean, something dire. How far would you go to get that information as an individual, right? You're the cop looking at that tree. The tree that you're dealing with today is this guy who knows where this kid is and won't tell you. How far would you go to get that information? That could be an individual question.

Now, [00:24:00] and you might have a different answer than the guy next to you and the gal next to him. But now a sergeant is in the room or a lieutenant or another leader is in the room and that leader says, wow, we really need this information. Huh? I'm going to go grab some coffee. Let me know how your conversation goes and walks out of the room and knowing full well that your next thing you're going to do is smack this guy at the phone book or whatever, you know, some kind of corrupt behavior, probably noble in your own mind in the scenario I drew out here.

Correct. And he walks away and and, you know, that's what happens. That is an unofficial almost official, but it's an unofficial legitimacy, right? It legitimize that legitimizes that behavior in an unofficial capacity. And if that happens repeatedly, it becomes embedded in the culture that that leader doesn't have to be in the room.

And turn a blind eye and go get coffee for you to know it's okay to smack this guy around. You can just smack him around, maybe even if he's in the room, because it's part of our culture. Now, [00:25:00] if that leader goes a different direction and doesn't permit that behavior, you get a different sort of action.

You end up with a different cultural anchor into how we handle these scenarios. Now, nobody likes that scenario, uh, or nobody likes that response in the scenario I've given because we have a child in peril in us and a, you know, dirtbag who's not given up where this kid is. I mean, you know, I bet you 90 percent of people out there and say, smack the guy and get the information.

There's a kid in danger and that's noble cause corruption, right? Cause you smack that guy to find the kid. The next day you're smacking him to find the dope. The next day you're smacking him to give him his. You know, I mean, I'm exaggerating the pace at which this occurs and the frequency, but you see the problem, um, in, in these scenario, this scenario that I've drawn out, the leadership matters, not because of what leadership tells you to do, not because of what leadership itself even does per se, but because of the tone that is set.

And this, you know, starts at the very top. It starts at the top of an organization. [00:26:00] Um, I said it that way for you, Chris, uh, starts at the top of the organization. But I mean, even at the top of the country, you know, I mean, who the president is affects the national discourse to a degree, you know, and, and, and so leadership matters.

So, where corruption is concerned, I think, I think it's a huge factor in either keeping it from taking root, minimizing it where it may crop up. Occasionally, or trying to beat it back and change culture where, where it's a systemic, which unfortunately does exist in some places, but not nearly as frequently as, as I think some of the public.

Yeah, you just, you mentioned leadership and we, we, on previous episodes, we had talked about in terms of just organized crime families and how important of like, in terms of how the family actually ran and the way it ran was largely dependent on who was in charge. Really like the Colombo family, we ran like a basket case because no one was really in charge and the people that were in charge weren't very [00:27:00] effective at what they were doing.

And then you contrast it to the Genovese family, which had solid leadership throughout most of its most of its tenure. And they also had like, solid, like, organizational structures in place where they did get a bad leader or something did bad did happen. They were able to like, you know, Adjust course, but it really boils down to who was in charge, really, and actually making the decisions and just how important steady leadership is.

You don't even have to be a remarkable leader, but if you're steady and you're providing, like, as you, uh, pointed out a tone, and I'm talking about, you know, crime family, not, uh, the police, but the principle still stands, right? Like, the guy at the top really is the most. The people leading it are really the most important because they're the ones that set the tone.

Steve here again with a quick word from our [00:28:00] sponsors. Yeah, I, I think, I think I'd interject there. Yeah, no, I just would interject just Chris because I, I don't, I don't like to say they're the most important person because I think the people doing the work where the rubber meets the road are the most important people.

But you're right. They had the biggest impact in terms of setting the tone. I think you're absolutely correct. And, and you, you mentioned real life crime families. I think it's on display, even in a fictional crime family. If you look at the movie, the Godfather, which I have a sneaking suspicion, you're both familiar with.

Um, you know, I mean, if you look at Vito Corleone, you know, won't get involved with heroin, you know, I mean, he has a moral code that his family. Adheres to he sets the tone and that's the culture of that family. Now they got, you know, gambling prostitution. They're doing all kinds of things, but they're hearing to this code.

Why? Because the leadership set the tone and people will adjust their behavior. Based on that [00:29:00] tone, both positively and negatively, the tone changes and they'll change their behaviors. And so I think you make a stellar point. We're not talking about police behavior here. We're talking about human behavior, and it doesn't matter the organization or the purpose of the organization, what their goals are, what their activities are.

Leadership sets the tone. Yeah, that's such a huge part of it is the leadership setting the tone. You could have a leader that. I'm going to this is my overall guiding principle. I trust you. If you make a mistake, I'm going to call you out on it. I'm going to correct you. But if you're doing a good job, I'm going to trust you to do a good job.

But you can have a leader who goes in the other direction and I'm going to nitpick every single thing you do. Then you have the person who's doing the job. I'm sure it goes this way with policing. Oh, well, Jim, you're not quite pulling over enough. People are. Hmm. You didn't seem to be doing very much your last shift.

Well, man, I better go, [00:30:00] you know, shake some trees and, you know, get some things moving. And that might go against what he knows is the correct, or she knows what's the correct thing to do, and that's really a tone set by, by leadership. If you go, uh, back to one of my favorite programs of all time, The Wire, uh, there's a scene in which one of the senior leaders, uh, uh, Daniel, says his name, talks to a new lieutenant.

Carver, and he tells them flat out, you're going to go into your district. Some people there, some of the cops there are going to be good cops. Some of them are terrible people. Some of them, but most of them are just going to be people and they're going to be looking to you to take their cues. You show them loyalty, there'll be loyalty.

You show them work ethic, they'll work hard. You should, you know, whatever you show them, they're going to reflect back to you. I, I'm not doing the speech justice here. It's, it's probably worth looking up on YouTube real quick. But it's, it's pretty powerful. So I probably want to like [00:31:00] top five or the top 10 speeches from that show.

It's a pretty stellar show. It's worth your time. Um, but it absolutely, you're absolutely correct. That's that's, and, and it, it, it goes towards our main subject, which is corruption, if you have a, you know, police chief, who's loosey goosey with the rules. That's what he's showing his people or her people and that's what they're going to be if they're on the other hand extremely, you know, tight to the rules, but not to the point of subverting common sense, which some policy and procedure nerds can do, then that's how people are going to handle things.

You, you show your people like how, how you want them to solve problems by the cues that you give them. Do you just open the policy book and that's the end of it, or do you apply common sense as well, you know, or you just don't worry about it, you know, as a leader, you show your people how you want them to handle that kind of scenario.

This might sound familiar to you, but, uh, I was reading your book. I, I don't know if it's your first book. It was the one about, um, it was a special forces [00:32:00] guy who came back and he was robbing. Gas stations and, uh, the field training officer wanted to fire the his recruit because he was just messing up everything.

And then the lieutenant comes in and he's basically forcing the field training officer to push this guy through. And I think that that thing where you're your leadership is Not trusting in the, in the person who has the most intimate information. And I think that that's something that can get bread into leadership.

Well, now I'm a Lieutenant or now I'm a supervisor. I'm sure you see that in your job, Chris, where as soon as somebody gets that, that bit of authority, well, now I know everything about everything that that can really sneak in and make big problems. Yeah, I like, I kind of laugh at those situations. I [00:33:00] guess I'm like, I've worked at the particular, like, I don't know, I've done this type of work for quite some time now.

And it's, I guess I'm like the 20 year old vet on the police force. And that's like somebody becomes like a supervisor or something like that and be like, yeah, you'll be relying on me in a couple of months. And you'll see. So you'll see, you'll see why I look at things in a particular way. If they were smart, they'd be relying on you from day one.

I mean, that that's the that's the 1 thing that, you know, I will never sit here and and make a claim of having been a great leader. But I did do 1 thing that I feel. Particularly proud of, or that I think was smart. And that was, I recognized my own limitations and, and so like, we all have our strengths and we all have our areas of expertise, but those don't necessarily mean we're experts at everything else.

And so for instance, when I took over the canine unit as a lieutenant. I'm not going to go in there and pretend I know more about dogs than these guys. I mean, one of our lead [00:34:00] handlers was regionally recognized as the guy. If you had a question, you ask Kevin King, and he had the answer. And if he didn't have any can send you to the sources to get deeper answers.

And I mean, I'm not going to try to act like I know more than that guy. I am going to learn from that guy and figure out what he needs for me as the leader to make sure he can keep being that guy. That's my job. And, and you're right. There's an arrogance that can come up with leadership. And there's a, uh, uh, uh, Not just leadership sometimes, but expertise.

Somebody's a real strong expert in one particular field. And they think somehow that, you know, just because they're smart and really good at 1 thing, that means it's going to transfer to another thing. And that's that's a dangerous supposition to make. I think, um, as a leader, you, you, I think 1 of the things you have to be You have command presence.

You have to be willing to lead. You have to have, be able to act with authority. All of that's true. But humility is one of the traits that I don't think often gets [00:35:00] enough emphasis when we're training our leaders to be, to be humble enough to, to say, I don't know everything. I want to learn more and, you know, figure out how to do my job better.

And the people I am leading. Who essentially I'm serving, even though they're called followers, and I'm called a leader, I'm serving them. They can help me in that journey. They can help me in that process, um, or process, sorry. And they can help me become a better leader, right? I, to me personally, I've always found that to be.

A real, the true sign of intelligence is somebody who's humble enough to fully admit when they don't know something. I, just speaking from personal experience, like I, I go, like, I work out at the gym and stuff like that, a fair, like a, uh, fairly often I like consider myself maybe slightly like an amateur bodybuilder.

I, I cannot believe the amount of people that will argue with me about basic stuff about in terms of. Terms of bodybuilding and like, uh, [00:36:00] rep ranges, types of exercises and what have you. And I'm like looking at them and then I'm looking not to sound arrogant. Then I see myself and I go, really? Are you arguing with me?

It's like, it'd be like me arguing with the car mechanic about what's wrong with my car. Well, but it, it, it, it it? I mean, you, you have to be willing to admit that. We're all human and therefore susceptible to those failures that humans are susceptible to, therefore, could I have made a mistake that could be viewed as corruption could lead to corruption if I continue to do it or did it in a slightly greater, you know, go down that road a little bit further.

Is it going to hit a point where the community around me would say that is corruption because that might be a good. Good litmus test, because every community is different, right? I mean, what's okay in Cleveland and what's okay in Albuquerque and what's okay here in Redmond, Oregon might be 3 different [00:37:00] things where on that spectrum is whatever I'm doing considered corruption being willing to be humble enough to.

I mean, let's face it. I mean, humility isn't necessarily a trait that most people attribute to cops. You know, arrogance is one that gets trotted out a lot. And there's some validity to it at times. We can appear arrogant. Um, you know, uh, uh, we don't listen, you know, we're bossy. We're taking control. We're telling people what to do.

Now, there's legitimate reasons why all these things are. Or being done and why in most cases, they're probably proper, uh, and effective, but they don't always come across great. Right? Um, and so that's how people see us, but I think, and I say us, I've been retired now for 10 years. So I should probably my speech patterns.

But the point being is if, if, if you're in a profession where you got to be type a, for the most part, because you could be in a survival situation at some point, um, Okay. You have to take control of the situation. You have to tell [00:38:00] people what to do in a way that they're willing to do it, whether they're a suspect, a victim or a witness or a bystander.

Um, and, and so that requires a particular persona and that persona doesn't always. You know, lend itself to a great deal of humility. Um, and so it could be a difficult thing, maybe. And I do think that if we are humble enough, if we do take that step back and say, okay, you know, I am in perfect. So was this something that could be construed as corruption?

Was this a mistake? I think it's a good 1st step. I think it, I think it does tie in just like leadership ties in. It is, as Steve said at the very beginning of our discussion. I It's a very convoluted and very multifaceted and difficult conversation because there's so many intersecting threads, uh, that are part of it.

We've just really scratched the surface here. And I think what we're going to really try and do is take some different situations. [00:39:00] Look at some cop movies because who doesn't love cop movies and we're going to explore a lot of these different issues of corruption and police, what they do really well, what maybe they had, they haven't done so well as exemplified in his.

And using different case studies and especially movies to talk more about these issues. So, uh, speaking from me and I, I know Chris as well. Thank you so much, Frank, for coming on and we definitely look forward to continuing to talk with you. Well, thanks so much for having me. I've really enjoyed this guys.

Well, Frank is now a friend of ours and we, uh, really the best way for everybody to support the podcast is to tell your friends about the show so that they can become friends of ours. Forget about it guys.

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Title: Behind the Badge: Unmasking and Preventing Police Corruption

Original Publication Date: 11/8/2023

Transcript URL: https://share.descript.com/view/3mw7dv9a5a8

Description: In this episode, we delve into a crucial topic: Police Corruption and the challenges officers face daily. We'll also discuss effective measures to prevent such corruption in law enforcement. This episode features 20 year police captain and police fiction author Frank Scalise. https://www.frankzafiro.com/

#PoliceCorruption #LawEnforcement #CommunityPolicing #PreventCorruption #PoliceAccountability

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Begin Transcript:

[00:00:00] Welcome to Organized Crime and Punishment, the best spot in town to hang out and talk about history and crime, with your hosts, Steve and Mustache Chris.

I started to think about another form of, I guess it could be corruption, and it comes out of the fact that policing, like just about anything else, Is a lot more subjective than it is the objective and, uh, and baseball. Now they have it where they have the AI calling balls and strikes and. Seriously, it's experimental and, uh, and then they'll go to it.

Uh, if, uh, they can, that you can challenge [00:01:00] it. But there's a lot of subjectivity to a ball and a strike. Now you could have it where you see somebody who maybe rolls through a stop and, uh, should I give them a ticket? Did I really see it the right way? But you could also see it where somebody blows past a stops, uh, stop red light past the school bus.

But it's 10 minutes before your shift is supposed to end and you really don't feel like staying over. And I got to get my kid to this and that, and, uh, I'm not going to, that's got kind of a corruption in a way. Well, policing requires a great deal of discretion. That's no question. And I think if you're going to examine but.

Apples to apples is a better way to look at it, right? So if you're talking about somebody rolling through a stop, are you working that intersection? Are you writing tickets? You stop. I stopped Chris. I don't know him. He gets a [00:02:00] ticket. I stopped Steve. We went to high school together. In fact, we play baseball together.

Uh, you know, I'm going to give you a warning this time. Is that correct? You know, I was not a traffic count. I, I gave a lot of warnings and my, my rule of thumb essentially was, is if I stopped you and we had a short conversation and I thought that our conversation had a likelihood of affecting your future behavior, then I didn't see the need for something punitive.

To, to do it. If you just basically wouldn't admit that you ran through the stop sign or you were a jerk or whatever, it's clear. I wasn't going to impact your future behavior. Then my only other option was, well, let's see if a financial penalty will influence your future. Because my role is to, it's not to do anything about the stop sign you just ran.

It's to stop you from doing it again, because that's how I make that intersection safe. Well, you know, there's a lot of discretion. That's discretion, right? I mean, if I talk to Chris and he's a jerk and I don't know it and he gets a ticket and I talked to Steve and I went to high school with him and he's like, [00:03:00] yeah, man, that was stupid.

I normally don't do that. I will never do that again. If I will try to never do that again. I'm really sorry. And I cut you a break. Is that corruption? Because I didn't treat you equally. I may have treated you fairly, but I didn't treat you equally. And so even when you go apples to apples, it's hard, you know, you could get into long discussions, which we did in the leadership course, the ethics section, especially, but throughout the entire course, we got into discussions like this about what corruption was.

Was this okay? Was that okay? What variables would impact whether it was okay or not? And I mean, I found Canadians to be, uh, much more, uh, much less tolerant of. Bad behavior, but also much more reasonable in, like, common sense ways of handling things than in some of the places I was in the States. I mean, we're not all idiots down here.

That got a lot of good answers from US officers too, but it's an interesting conversation, but you do kind of have to be apples to apples. Otherwise it doesn't entirely work. Right? So, but lots of [00:04:00] discretion and and with discretion comes the capability or the possibility of an error in judgment or.

Purposeful corruption that can happen. I was going to say you mentioned something about the trees. Um, like, uh, like the police officers focused on like the individual tree where like the organization is like focused on the forest, right? That's exactly how I would like a police officer to kind of view his job.

Like, how can I make a difference in this, say one individual's life? Like, every day that I'm on the job, I know that's not, you're not going to make a difference every day, obviously, but like, when you have an opportunity to be able to make a difference, say, in one person's life, you mentioned the, like, how can I talk to this person?

So hopefully they don't run through a red light again, you know, or how can I stop this robbery? Or maybe it could actually sit and talk to this criminal or whatever that we had to arrest in the backseat when we're driving them, you know, to where he has to go. And maybe I can say something to him or, or he.

Maybe thanks twice [00:05:00] about what he's doing with his life. Um, to me, that's like, probably the most effective type of policing. If you can go into, and it sounds odd because, you know, like, I'm not a police officer, I'm not going to lie. I don't know a ton of police officers in my life. I got the mustache for it.

Uh, I need to get some aviators. Um, you know what I mean? So that's the way I would like. To view it like there was a part of me when I was growing up, always kind of wanted to be a police officer slash, uh, like, uh, detective always been fascinated by, like, murder mysteries and things of that nature. Um, it's just, I don't know.

It just never happened. But, uh, that's the way I would view the job is like, how can I make a difference in this 1 individual's life? Because to a certain degree, you have a fair amount, a certain amount of power to be able to actually do that. Um, To me, that was the most kind of effective policing. I find a lot of the interactions that I've not so much me personally.

I'm not [00:06:00] ton of interactions with cops, but, uh, the couple that I have, um, I just found like, uh, there was a couple of police officers. We had like, good conversations, like, just simple stuff, you know, like, uh, traffic stuff or what have you, uh, But there was like other times they just didn't seem like they were really interested at all and trying to make a difference.

Well, you bring up a great point. And that is that, you know, uh, the, the person to person connection is the most effective connection. And when you start your career in law enforcement and you're young and your uniform is bright and your badge is not scuffed at all, your shoes are shine, your haircut's fresh and all that.

Um, there's good guys, bad guys, and victims and witnesses, and that's it. It's a very, it's a very black and white kind of world. And at some point in your career, if you're paying attention, you come to the realization that for the most part, people are people. And while there may be two or three people [00:07:00] you come across in your career that are truly evil, whatever that means, that's majority of people.

They're making bad choices in their bad situations. And if you can make a difference in their life in any way, you should try it and you're not going to save everybody. You're not going to make an impact on everybody. Some people don't want it. Some people won't accept it. Some people don't actually need it, but you have to try where you think you Can try and I think your point is, is valid as well in that if you are trying, people appreciate that.

I mean, you go to a foreign country and you try to speak the language, don't they love it? You know, they, they, they help you. They appreciate your effort. I think if you're in a service position and you're trying to help people, even if they don't really need the help or they're still going to appreciate and you certainly have the opportunities within law enforcement to those differences.

Um, quick, quick story, real quick story. Okay. It's, it's summertime here, which means spring cleaning, cause my wife's a teacher. So stuff happens. I'm sure you're familiar with that, uh, process. See, you know, stuff that has been waiting all year to get done. It's start getting done, going through a lot of [00:08:00] stuff, goodwill visits, you know, those things, kinds of things.

Going through some old paperwork, throwing out old receipts and all kinds of stuff. And I came across a letter that a guy wrote me from my time on patrol. It's one of the few things I kept from my law enforcement career. And I didn't remember it. Really, when I got the letter, I had to think about it a little while and read his letter to remember the incident.

But in his letter, he credits me with saving his life. And, and I remember what happened after I read it. And I just basically talked to the guy. He got stabbed in the heart and I talked to him and rode with him to the hospital in case he died on the way to the hospital because he was a victim. And. Talk to him and kind of, you know, try to be positive and everything.

And he survived and he credited me being there with saving his life. Now, did I save his life? No, the doctor did, or he wasn't going to die anyway, but I made that impact. And, and, and the reason that impact happened was because I was trying. Um, and, and, you know, the guy was in all honesty, the guy was kind of a criminal.

It wasn't a bad criminal, but he was, you know. A mediocre crew and I [00:09:00] ran his record up and I was like, oh, guy's kind of a durang, but he's just a guy, right? He's a person and, and, and so you know that person to person connection matters. And so I think your view of it, Chris, is actually really bang on Steve here again, we are a member of the Parthenon podcast network, featuring great shows like Josh Cohen's, eyewitness History, and many other great shows.

Go to Parthenon podcast to learn more. And now here is a quick word from our sponsors.

In all your time, did you see that there's been a change in police or maybe even geographically, that sort of the, the, the. The thin blue line, like we're on this side and you're on that side. And, uh, could that be a factor of that? A lot of departments are cutting back. So cops are seeing a lot more of the really bad stuff.

They're not getting to [00:10:00] do some, some more of the soft scale stuff. They're doing a lot more of the hard stuff. So they're, they're building up a barrier between them and the public. You know, that's always been a factor. Um, One of the things about policing is, and I mean, really teaching is the same way. If you think about it, Steve, um, you know, people think they know your job because they've interacted with you or they seen cop shows or in your case, they went to school.

Yeah, so they think they know what teaching is. They think they know what policing is. They know you're there to serve them in some capacity. They pay your salary. And they're more than happy to remind you of that. Um, and they have certain expectations, not all of which are realistic. They underestimate the amount of work teachers do, for example, the end, they overestimate the amount of authority that officers have sometimes underestimated other times.

And so. When you're dealing with the public, sometimes it can, you know, it can be frustrating. These kinds of things can be frustrating. And then it's an understanding factor. Um, I won't equate [00:11:00] policing and what police go through with what soldiers go through in war in terms of intensity and frequency, because I think they're different.

Scenarios, I think one is far more, uh, is far bigger than the other, I guess, for lack of a better term, but I do think they're on the same frequency to a degree. You see some terrible things. You deal with some terrible things. You have to put up a bit of a shell in order to avoid cracking under the emotional onslaught of those things, both the.

Immediacy of the event and the cumulative effect of it over years. And then again, you throw into that the public's response and they're, you know, all the stuff I just talked about the public and it all starts to grind on you and who understands that, you know, well, other cops understand that there are other people who do too, but that's, that's an easy one, right?

Other cops understand. And so. You know, there's an old, I can't remember the guy that did the course, but he [00:12:00] talks about emotional, like saving yourself emotionally as a cop. And he talks about how, when you come on the job, you've got all these friends, you know, your high school friends, your college friends, your sports friends, your drinking friends, your whatever hobby friends, your family or whatever.

And little by little, you kind of start carving them out because, you know, they don't want to hear about the dead baby at the barbecue, you know, and. And more to the point, you can't talk about it. It's not even that that you do and they go, what the hell are you talking about? It's more often that you don't talk about it.

You can't talk about it. So as slowly your circle kind of tightens and and your trust circle tightens right along with it. You end up being surrounded by nothing but other cops. And so in what attitudes. are normalized is all cop attitudes, right? And so, uh, do you become tribal? Do you become clannish?

Does the thin blue line become a factor? It does. And I think that's a natural human behavior given what's going on. No, it's like, I'll use an example. I'm trying to [00:13:00] think, uh, on this couple of years now, but you guys remember the, the guy in Florida that was on bath salts and, uh, he was, uh, I think it was eating that guy's face underneath the bridge.

Like, can you imagine being the police officer that showed up to that situation? They ended up, I think they ended up having to shoot the guy. Um, uh, and they killed him there. Just go like, Oh yeah, I'm just going to go. You know, talk to my high school friends about what I just saw and just experience like, no, you're going to be talking to like, well, they're talking about the lawnmower that they just bought.

And I could speak from personal experience, like, not to get whatever. I don't mind talking about it. Like, I lost my dad when I was quite young and I was the 1 that, uh, found them and. You know, 15 year old, uh, me, who am I going to go talk to? Who could understand that amongst your peers? And like, I'm going to talk to a bunch of other kids that are, you know, they're more concerned about like what video game they're going to buy.

Well, at least at the, at the [00:14:00] time that's, or, you know, what girl they're going to pick up or what have you. And I'm sitting there and I'm just like, I just saw this and like. There's no one for me to really talk to, you know, if there were like other people at the time to talk to naturally, I, I would have just gravitated towards them because they had experienced something similar.

It's very, uh, it just, it makes a lot of sense. I think also related to that is, uh, to what you were saying, Frank, about, uh, you can be familiar with the public when you're on duty. But with teaching and a lot of where there's an authority aspect, you can't be too chummy because eventually there's going to be a, there's a line you can't cross where there is an authority and a power differential.

And then throw in the factor that as a police officer, you are correctly trained that there is potential danger everywhere. Now, that doesn't mean everybody's [00:15:00] dangerous and they're going to try to hurt you. You don't have to run around paranoid thinking. Oh, my God, Chris is going to reach to the screen right now and throttle me.

I need to get my hands up. But then again. You don't know, and the thing about police work is like, you're not in constant danger, but you're in constant danger of being in danger. If that makes any sense. It's not 1 of the 10 most dangerous jobs by by statistics, you know, most years, but it's that latent.

Very real threat that something could happen at any moment. My help could be needed. Somebody could be placed in danger. I could be placed in danger. I may need to act in a way that's going to change my life and everybody else's life that's involved. And I'm going to have about 1. 3 seconds to decide exactly how I'm going to resolve that situation.

And people are going to spend months and maybe years pouring over that decision and second guessing it. And that's what you're up against. And so, I mean. For cops to be clannish, for cops to be standoffish, for cops to be suspicious. This is why. Um, I'm not excusing it like [00:16:00] it's a good thing. I'm just explaining why it, why it does occur and why it doesn't make, it's not because they're being evil, you know, they're not being, you know, it's not like they have character flaws.

It's a natural response to the stimula that they're faced with. And not just, and again, over a period of time, decades in some instances, and it's institutionalized. Like I was only on for 20 years, but in year one, I was feeling the impact of the previous 20 years. I mean, when did Rodney King happen? 1988, something like that.

It might've even been later, a little later than that too. I was, I know I was over in Germany at the time in the military. So it had to happen between 88 and 91. Either way. It happened in LA in the late eighties. Let's say I'm in a, in Spokane in 93, I'm a police officer and I'm getting told, don't Rodney King, me, you know, by people.

So it's not just the weight of your own experience that you feel in that profession, but it's the weight of, of the [00:17:00] collective cultural experience and the collective experience of the profession. Um, and again, I, I know we're getting a little far field from the. The, the, the topic of, of corruption, but I think it's related because certainly if corruption is part of that culture, you feel it, right?

You're faced with, uh, so it's, it, it is a difficult job and, and we were talking to Steve in the, in the pre funk, uh, a few weeks ago about how, how a similar teaching is in many ways, uh, uh, and my wife's a teacher. So we've had this conversation. And so if anybody wants to see it on, on display, Okay. Then done with expert writing and directing and acting season four, the wire is perfect, near perfect explanation of how the two professions, uh, have a lot of similarities.

You mentioned that like the, the, uh, the dangerous aspect of being a police officer and I find it's, uh, being a police, it's unique in the sense of how unpredictable could be like, you could be pulling a guy [00:18:00] over for running red light and he's got a dead body in the trunk. Potentially, he pulls out a gun or a dead body in the trunk.

Uh, or like, if you're like a firefighter. You know, going into that fire every time you go, like, it's in a sense, it's predictable. And like, it's dangerous, you know, exactly what's going to happen. Like, maybe the house collapses or what have you. Or if you're even like a soldier, I know there's unpredictable things that happen essentially.

Oh, you drove down this road a 1000 times and, you know, there's an RPG could come and hit your truck or what have you, but you're driving and. Yeah. A war zone. So you kind of know to a degree that you have to constantly be on your feet where like a police officer, you have to constantly be on your feet, obviously, right?

But I can see how it would be easy to kind of let your guard down. It's like, Oh, I'm just pulling over an SUV or something like that. And like a Toyota RAV4 and. Somebody pulls a, pulls out a knife or a gun and starts shooting for any reason, who knows, you know, they, maybe they have drugs in the [00:19:00] car or something like you, like, uh, something of that nature.

I could see where, uh, with the, the way a lot of the wars were going, like in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Vietnam to a certain degree, that it is very similar in that The soldiers didn't know necessarily they could be walking through a town or a village that they thought was safe. And then they do get hit with a R.

  1. G. or an I. E. D. or something like that, like not knowing what the danger is. It's I'm in a. It's very similar in a way in that, that that's where the PTSD and those things start to kick in is when you're getting hit with that stress, that it's constant, but it's fluctuating and you don't know whether you're safe or whether you're completely unsafe.

That probably is. There is gotta be some overlap it's one to one because I wouldn't want to insult people who have been in a war zone. Um, and maybe like a Venn diagram type. [00:20:00] Yeah, yeah, I think you're right. I think there's a, there's a, there's crossover for sure. And, and, and the constant threat of there being a threat is it's draining.

It definitely is draining and it causes you to always keep a part of yourself in reserve. And it causes yourself causes you to always be on guard. And this is easily and not unreasonably by the, by the public. Interpreted as being aloof, suspicious, arrogant, uh, you know, paranoid, you know, a number of different adjectives can be applied to it.

And you understand why the public might think that, but that's what's going on there. You know, the thing about policing that you have to remember, of course, is an incredible amount of responsibility is given to police and therefore an incredible amount of power. To accomplish what they're responsible for is given to them.

And you know what they say about power, right? That comes right back to our original topic of corruption is, is it can it can [00:21:00] happen. I think that in these environments, maybe where there's a good community. Police relationship, and there's a lot of trust there. You know, that's another obstacle to any corruption taking place because I mean, we're basic.

We're pretty basic creatures when you break it down to our core behaviors and and, you know, we don't want to disappoint people we care about. Like, I don't want, I don't want my wife to be disappointed. Me, her opinion matters. And, and, and, you know, you may have a boss or a parent, a good friend that you feel that same way.

And I think if police departments and police members have that kind of a relationship with the community, they don't want to let the community down. So they're going to be on guard against that. Now, if you're in a community. That is itself corrupt that takes on a completely different dynamic, right? And that's, that's a different conversation.

Trust is such a fragile thing. You could be doing the best you can and you're, you're doing a great job, a great job. And then 1 [00:22:00] major mistake can completely shatter that trust. And it's a, it's a, it is a very. All these different, the, the grid work, really the lattice of power and corruption and good and not so good and all that.

It really is a very complicated situation. And that's why I'm so glad we had you on to really discuss this. Well, and I think I would leave you with the idea, uh, that one element that matters a lot in addressing this is always going to be leadership. And I remember when I was a patrol officer or detective, I was like, I don't care about my leaders.

They don't do my job. They don't know my job. I know my job. I do my job. All they do is occasionally get in the way. And I'll bet if you pulled any. Profession anyway, I bet teachers feel the same way about principles half the time. You know, I mean, I bet I bet that's how you feel [00:23:00] about some of your bosses.

It's your job to Chris and you don't have to say. So, because it's not a big business, you don't hang yourself, but don't get it. But my point is that, uh. That we're all wrong, right? We do take our cues from leadership. It's human nature and not necessarily a 1 to 1. I see my boss, Steve, do this or my boss, Chris do that.

And so I'm going to do the same thing, but they set the tone. They set what's acceptable. I mean, imagine a situation if if you have a difficult. Difficult case happening where maybe there's somebody in danger and you're trying to get a suspect to confess to some information, um, about where maybe a missing child is.

I mean, something dire. How far would you go to get that information as an individual, right? You're the cop looking at that tree. The tree that you're dealing with today is this guy who knows where this kid is and won't tell you. How far would you go to get that information? That could be an individual question.

Now, [00:24:00] and you might have a different answer than the guy next to you and the gal next to him. But now a sergeant is in the room or a lieutenant or another leader is in the room and that leader says, wow, we really need this information. Huh? I'm going to go grab some coffee. Let me know how your conversation goes and walks out of the room and knowing full well that your next thing you're going to do is smack this guy at the phone book or whatever, you know, some kind of corrupt behavior, probably noble in your own mind in the scenario I drew out here.

Correct. And he walks away and and, you know, that's what happens. That is an unofficial almost official, but it's an unofficial legitimacy, right? It legitimize that legitimizes that behavior in an unofficial capacity. And if that happens repeatedly, it becomes embedded in the culture that that leader doesn't have to be in the room.

And turn a blind eye and go get coffee for you to know it's okay to smack this guy around. You can just smack him around, maybe even if he's in the room, because it's part of our culture. Now, [00:25:00] if that leader goes a different direction and doesn't permit that behavior, you get a different sort of action.

You end up with a different cultural anchor into how we handle these scenarios. Now, nobody likes that scenario, uh, or nobody likes that response in the scenario I've given because we have a child in peril in us and a, you know, dirtbag who's not given up where this kid is. I mean, you know, I bet you 90 percent of people out there and say, smack the guy and get the information.

There's a kid in danger and that's noble cause corruption, right? Cause you smack that guy to find the kid. The next day you're smacking him to find the dope. The next day you're smacking him to give him his. You know, I mean, I'm exaggerating the pace at which this occurs and the frequency, but you see the problem, um, in, in these scenario, this scenario that I've drawn out, the leadership matters, not because of what leadership tells you to do, not because of what leadership itself even does per se, but because of the tone that is set.

And this, you know, starts at the very top. It starts at the top of an organization. [00:26:00] Um, I said it that way for you, Chris, uh, starts at the top of the organization. But I mean, even at the top of the country, you know, I mean, who the president is affects the national discourse to a degree, you know, and, and, and so leadership matters.

So, where corruption is concerned, I think, I think it's a huge factor in either keeping it from taking root, minimizing it where it may crop up. Occasionally, or trying to beat it back and change culture where, where it's a systemic, which unfortunately does exist in some places, but not nearly as frequently as, as I think some of the public.

Yeah, you just, you mentioned leadership and we, we, on previous episodes, we had talked about in terms of just organized crime families and how important of like, in terms of how the family actually ran and the way it ran was largely dependent on who was in charge. Really like the Colombo family, we ran like a basket case because no one was really in charge and the people that were in charge weren't very [00:27:00] effective at what they were doing.

And then you contrast it to the Genovese family, which had solid leadership throughout most of its most of its tenure. And they also had like, solid, like, organizational structures in place where they did get a bad leader or something did bad did happen. They were able to like, you know, Adjust course, but it really boils down to who was in charge, really, and actually making the decisions and just how important steady leadership is.

You don't even have to be a remarkable leader, but if you're steady and you're providing, like, as you, uh, pointed out a tone, and I'm talking about, you know, crime family, not, uh, the police, but the principle still stands, right? Like, the guy at the top really is the most. The people leading it are really the most important because they're the ones that set the tone.

Steve here again with a quick word from our [00:28:00] sponsors. Yeah, I, I think, I think I'd interject there. Yeah, no, I just would interject just Chris because I, I don't, I don't like to say they're the most important person because I think the people doing the work where the rubber meets the road are the most important people.

But you're right. They had the biggest impact in terms of setting the tone. I think you're absolutely correct. And, and you, you mentioned real life crime families. I think it's on display, even in a fictional crime family. If you look at the movie, the Godfather, which I have a sneaking suspicion, you're both familiar with.

Um, you know, I mean, if you look at Vito Corleone, you know, won't get involved with heroin, you know, I mean, he has a moral code that his family. Adheres to he sets the tone and that's the culture of that family. Now they got, you know, gambling prostitution. They're doing all kinds of things, but they're hearing to this code.

Why? Because the leadership set the tone and people will adjust their behavior. Based on that [00:29:00] tone, both positively and negatively, the tone changes and they'll change their behaviors. And so I think you make a stellar point. We're not talking about police behavior here. We're talking about human behavior, and it doesn't matter the organization or the purpose of the organization, what their goals are, what their activities are.

Leadership sets the tone. Yeah, that's such a huge part of it is the leadership setting the tone. You could have a leader that. I'm going to this is my overall guiding principle. I trust you. If you make a mistake, I'm going to call you out on it. I'm going to correct you. But if you're doing a good job, I'm going to trust you to do a good job.

But you can have a leader who goes in the other direction and I'm going to nitpick every single thing you do. Then you have the person who's doing the job. I'm sure it goes this way with policing. Oh, well, Jim, you're not quite pulling over enough. People are. Hmm. You didn't seem to be doing very much your last shift.

Well, man, I better go, [00:30:00] you know, shake some trees and, you know, get some things moving. And that might go against what he knows is the correct, or she knows what's the correct thing to do, and that's really a tone set by, by leadership. If you go, uh, back to one of my favorite programs of all time, The Wire, uh, there's a scene in which one of the senior leaders, uh, uh, Daniel, says his name, talks to a new lieutenant.

Carver, and he tells them flat out, you're going to go into your district. Some people there, some of the cops there are going to be good cops. Some of them are terrible people. Some of them, but most of them are just going to be people and they're going to be looking to you to take their cues. You show them loyalty, there'll be loyalty.

You show them work ethic, they'll work hard. You should, you know, whatever you show them, they're going to reflect back to you. I, I'm not doing the speech justice here. It's, it's probably worth looking up on YouTube real quick. But it's, it's pretty powerful. So I probably want to like [00:31:00] top five or the top 10 speeches from that show.

It's a pretty stellar show. It's worth your time. Um, but it absolutely, you're absolutely correct. That's that's, and, and it, it, it goes towards our main subject, which is corruption, if you have a, you know, police chief, who's loosey goosey with the rules. That's what he's showing his people or her people and that's what they're going to be if they're on the other hand extremely, you know, tight to the rules, but not to the point of subverting common sense, which some policy and procedure nerds can do, then that's how people are going to handle things.

You, you show your people like how, how you want them to solve problems by the cues that you give them. Do you just open the policy book and that's the end of it, or do you apply common sense as well, you know, or you just don't worry about it, you know, as a leader, you show your people how you want them to handle that kind of scenario.

This might sound familiar to you, but, uh, I was reading your book. I, I don't know if it's your first book. It was the one about, um, it was a special forces [00:32:00] guy who came back and he was robbing. Gas stations and, uh, the field training officer wanted to fire the his recruit because he was just messing up everything.

And then the lieutenant comes in and he's basically forcing the field training officer to push this guy through. And I think that that thing where you're your leadership is Not trusting in the, in the person who has the most intimate information. And I think that that's something that can get bread into leadership.

Well, now I'm a Lieutenant or now I'm a supervisor. I'm sure you see that in your job, Chris, where as soon as somebody gets that, that bit of authority, well, now I know everything about everything that that can really sneak in and make big problems. Yeah, I like, I kind of laugh at those situations. I [00:33:00] guess I'm like, I've worked at the particular, like, I don't know, I've done this type of work for quite some time now.

And it's, I guess I'm like the 20 year old vet on the police force. And that's like somebody becomes like a supervisor or something like that and be like, yeah, you'll be relying on me in a couple of months. And you'll see. So you'll see, you'll see why I look at things in a particular way. If they were smart, they'd be relying on you from day one.

I mean, that that's the that's the 1 thing that, you know, I will never sit here and and make a claim of having been a great leader. But I did do 1 thing that I feel. Particularly proud of, or that I think was smart. And that was, I recognized my own limitations and, and so like, we all have our strengths and we all have our areas of expertise, but those don't necessarily mean we're experts at everything else.

And so for instance, when I took over the canine unit as a lieutenant. I'm not going to go in there and pretend I know more about dogs than these guys. I mean, one of our lead [00:34:00] handlers was regionally recognized as the guy. If you had a question, you ask Kevin King, and he had the answer. And if he didn't have any can send you to the sources to get deeper answers.

And I mean, I'm not going to try to act like I know more than that guy. I am going to learn from that guy and figure out what he needs for me as the leader to make sure he can keep being that guy. That's my job. And, and you're right. There's an arrogance that can come up with leadership. And there's a, uh, uh, uh, Not just leadership sometimes, but expertise.

Somebody's a real strong expert in one particular field. And they think somehow that, you know, just because they're smart and really good at 1 thing, that means it's going to transfer to another thing. And that's that's a dangerous supposition to make. I think, um, as a leader, you, you, I think 1 of the things you have to be You have command presence.

You have to be willing to lead. You have to have, be able to act with authority. All of that's true. But humility is one of the traits that I don't think often gets [00:35:00] enough emphasis when we're training our leaders to be, to be humble enough to, to say, I don't know everything. I want to learn more and, you know, figure out how to do my job better.

And the people I am leading. Who essentially I'm serving, even though they're called followers, and I'm called a leader, I'm serving them. They can help me in that journey. They can help me in that process, um, or process, sorry. And they can help me become a better leader, right? I, to me personally, I've always found that to be.

A real, the true sign of intelligence is somebody who's humble enough to fully admit when they don't know something. I, just speaking from personal experience, like I, I go, like, I work out at the gym and stuff like that, a fair, like a, uh, fairly often I like consider myself maybe slightly like an amateur bodybuilder.

I, I cannot believe the amount of people that will argue with me about basic stuff about in terms of. Terms of bodybuilding and like, uh, [00:36:00] rep ranges, types of exercises and what have you. And I'm like looking at them and then I'm looking not to sound arrogant. Then I see myself and I go, really? Are you arguing with me?

It's like, it'd be like me arguing with the car mechanic about what's wrong with my car. Well, but it, it, it, it it? I mean, you, you have to be willing to admit that. We're all human and therefore susceptible to those failures that humans are susceptible to, therefore, could I have made a mistake that could be viewed as corruption could lead to corruption if I continue to do it or did it in a slightly greater, you know, go down that road a little bit further.

Is it going to hit a point where the community around me would say that is corruption because that might be a good. Good litmus test, because every community is different, right? I mean, what's okay in Cleveland and what's okay in Albuquerque and what's okay here in Redmond, Oregon might be 3 different [00:37:00] things where on that spectrum is whatever I'm doing considered corruption being willing to be humble enough to.

I mean, let's face it. I mean, humility isn't necessarily a trait that most people attribute to cops. You know, arrogance is one that gets trotted out a lot. And there's some validity to it at times. We can appear arrogant. Um, you know, uh, uh, we don't listen, you know, we're bossy. We're taking control. We're telling people what to do.

Now, there's legitimate reasons why all these things are. Or being done and why in most cases, they're probably proper, uh, and effective, but they don't always come across great. Right? Um, and so that's how people see us, but I think, and I say us, I've been retired now for 10 years. So I should probably my speech patterns.

But the point being is if, if, if you're in a profession where you got to be type a, for the most part, because you could be in a survival situation at some point, um, Okay. You have to take control of the situation. You have to tell [00:38:00] people what to do in a way that they're willing to do it, whether they're a suspect, a victim or a witness or a bystander.

Um, and, and so that requires a particular persona and that persona doesn't always. You know, lend itself to a great deal of humility. Um, and so it could be a difficult thing, maybe. And I do think that if we are humble enough, if we do take that step back and say, okay, you know, I am in perfect. So was this something that could be construed as corruption?

Was this a mistake? I think it's a good 1st step. I think it, I think it does tie in just like leadership ties in. It is, as Steve said at the very beginning of our discussion. I It's a very convoluted and very multifaceted and difficult conversation because there's so many intersecting threads, uh, that are part of it.

We've just really scratched the surface here. And I think what we're going to really try and do is take some different situations. [00:39:00] Look at some cop movies because who doesn't love cop movies and we're going to explore a lot of these different issues of corruption and police, what they do really well, what maybe they had, they haven't done so well as exemplified in his.

And using different case studies and especially movies to talk more about these issues. So, uh, speaking from me and I, I know Chris as well. Thank you so much, Frank, for coming on and we definitely look forward to continuing to talk with you. Well, thanks so much for having me. I've really enjoyed this guys.

Well, Frank is now a friend of ours and we, uh, really the best way for everybody to support the podcast is to tell your friends about the show so that they can become friends of ours. Forget about it guys.

You've been listening to Organized Crime and Punishment, a history [00:40:00] and crime podcast. To learn more about what you heard today, find links to social media and how to support the show. Go to our website, A to z history page.com. Become a friend of ours by sending us an email to crime at a to z history page dot com.

All of this and more can be found in the show notes. We'll see you next time on Organized Crime and Punishment. Forget about it.

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