Police subculture plays a critical role in influencing misconduct. The dominant behaviors present in the department’s police subculture helps to inform officers as to which behaviors are acceptable. Moore (2012) further concurs in arguing police subculture involves a group of “officers who share a perspective about life on the beat, about their roles and duties, and about police professionalism and competence” (p. 212). The role the dominant subculture ascribes to police professionalism directly influences how police officers act. In this sense, police departments with an adverse subculture may play less of an importance on professionalism, resulting in more reports or allegations of police misconduct.
The dominant police subculture present in a department can further be detrimental in influencing new officers. Often, existing officers within the department train new officers. In teaching these new recruits how to act, respond, and behave while on duty, the existing officers are promoting the dominant police subculture present within the department. From this perspective, the police subculture and training the officer receives, directly influences what actions newly trained police officers will engage in. In departments with a negative subculture that promotes misconduct, newly trained officers will carry on this subculture as they progress through their careers (Moore, 2012).
Another way that police subculture promotes misconduct is through the promotion of norms. If officers within the department believe certain behaviors are acceptable, they are less likely to report other officers for engaging in such behaviors. Yet, in some cases, misconduct claims arrise from civilians. Despite these complaints or allegations, proving them in a department with an adverse subculture can be a difficult venture. Moore (2012) further concurs in arguing “fighting such misconduct becomes extremely difficult because attempts to hold errant officers accountable are often opposed, even by those who do not participate in the misconduct” (p. 212). The conflicting accounts of what occurred make it difficult for the department to prove that misconduct has actually occurred.
There are multiple ways that leaders within the police department can reduce unethical behaviors. As addressed by Belasic (2012) police departments need to screen police officers in order to determine what they perceive as acceptable behaviors. In screening new recruits, police departments can ensure that they are hiring new officers with a high level of moral behaviors, which will inevitably affect their behaviors. Yet, Belasic further recommends police departments take the time to screen their existing officers. This is an important attribute, as the police subculture can influence how officers behave. In screening existing officers, and providing them with additional training relating to ethical behaviors, police departments will reduce the number of misconduct reports they receive.
Another way that police departments can encourage ethical behavior and reduce the number of misconduct claims against officers is to ensure that proper monitoring devises are in place. In being able to listen to or physically review the officer’s actions, the police department is protect its officers, the department, and society (Moore, 2012). Furthermore, the ability to review the call helps police departments to determine whether or not the officer acted ethically. This is an important attribute, as it allows police departments to thoroughly investigate misconduct claims. In investigating such claims, the police department may find that the police officer did act unethically. In these cases, the actions taken by the police department may help to encourage other officers to act appropriately. For example, in showing officers that the department is observing what they are doing, and how they are doing it, officers within the department will adjust their behaviors in order to ensure they reflect the department’s values.