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Noble Cause Corruption: Police Corruption for All the Best Reasons?

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Title: Noble Cause Corruption: Police Corruption for All the Best Reasons?

Original Publication Date: 11/1/2023

Transcript URL: https://share.descript.com/view/YErXOzeB214

Description: In today’s episode of Organized Crime and Punishment, we explore the intricate relationship between law enforcement and crime. We look into the complexities, ethical dilemmas, and consequences that arise when these two worlds collide. Join us as we unravel the hidden aspects of this captivating intersection. This episode features 20 year police captain and true crime author Frank Scalise. https://www.frankzafiro.com/

#PoliceCorruption #OrganizedCrimePodcast #CriminalUnderworld #CrimeAndJustice #CorruptCops #UnveilingTheTruth

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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.

Thanks for joining us again on Organized Crime and Punishment. I'm your host, Steve, and I am joined as usual by our own Mustache Chris. Today, we have a very special guest, our first guest, guest, uh, as it were. Frank Scalise. Frank is a retired Spokane, Washington police officer. Is it Spokane, Spokane, Spokane?

It's definitely, it is definitely Spokane, not Spokane, not Spokant, but Spokane.

[00:01:00] Frank served at every level from patrolman to captain in his 20 year career. Look for Frank to be a fixture on the podcast to provide the law enforcement aspect of crime and punishment. In this first episode of a, of a series where we're going to begin to discuss law enforcement, we will discuss a serious topic in policing that of corruption.

Police corruption is a really complicated topic and a really a fascinating one. And I'm really excited to have Frank here to lead us through this, uh, in some ways, difficult conversation. Thank you so much for joining us today, Frank. Well, thanks for having me. I'm excited to talk about this too. And I think it's, uh, going to lend itself to an interesting discussion, given that, you know, I'm up in the Pacific Northwest.

Uh, you're down in Texas, I think, by way of the Northeast. Yeah. And, and, and Chris is up in Toronto area there in Ontario, um, in Canada. So, I mean, [00:02:00] there, there's that. Cultural divides there, and I think that comes into play when we're talking about this topic. So it'll be interesting to hear the different viewpoints.

And now, Frank, can you, we'll get into a lot of details of your biography, but can you maybe give us a 10, 000 foot view about yourself and your police career and then your post police career? Uh, sure. The, uh, thumbnail sketch is I came on the job in Spokane, Washington in 1993. For people who don't know anything about Spokane, it's in Eastern Washington.

Um, I think it's about 250, 000 people. Now it was closer to 200, uh, even to 10, maybe when I came on, uh, in my career, I was kind of fortunate. Uh, not kind of. I was very fortunate. And then I spent the first half of my career doing the job where the, where the rubber meets the road. I was patrol officer training officer.

I was a detective. I was a corporal. Um, and, and I, so I did the work that that police are there to [00:03:00] do about halfway through my career. I kind of fell backwards into a leadership. Position, uh, as a sergeant and, and had to reassess my career a bit in terms of what I wanted to accomplish and, and, and what leadership meant and, and I embrace that.

So, uh, I spent the 2nd, half of my career in leadership roles and I retired as a captain. The good thing about that was. I did some different things in patrol and in investigations, but I got to see an even greater breadth of the department in my leadership roles. And so. Like, I got to command, for instance, the canine unit.

Um, now, I learned a lot about canines. I mean, I couldn't have jumped in the car and taken a shift for one of the guys if they were sick. Uh, not even close. I didn't know a hundredth of what they knew. But I knew enough, uh, I knew a hundred times more than the public did though. So, I mean, it was a good education.

And, and that happened in every unit that I was fortunate enough to, to command during my career. And, and so this gave me [00:04:00] a little bit of a different view than say, someone who spent their entire career as a detective or as patrol officer. Retire as a captain, as I mentioned, post career, I spent about 4 years teaching a course for the International Association of chiefs of police.

And this is a, it's either nonprofit or not for profit. I forget the difference in which it is. But it has a mission to assist police agencies in a variety of ways. And one of those ways is training. And the course that I was teaching at a national level is called leadership and policing, pretty intensive three week course, where we'd go in for a week and do the first week and then come back a month later, do week two, and then finish with week three a month after that, very heavy into behavioral science.

And, and, and created with a very, uh, with an eye towards application in the policing world. Um, this was pretty cool too, because, you know, I spent my whole career in Spokane and then I went to a few different training [00:05:00] conferences and other things and interacted with other agencies, but I was pretty Spokane centric for that 20 years.

Um, and in fact, the biggest stretch I probably had was working with other municipal. Entities, you know, the mayor's office and the water department and the fire department and things like this. Now, suddenly, I get to travel all over the US and Canada and see all these different agencies and all these different parts of North America and that really opened my eyes and really taught me a valuable lessons that probably conversation.

3, 3 thumbnails of sketching there. Sorry about that. But now, you know. In a department of that size, it's not a huge city, but it's not a small city. I guess you could call it a medium sized city. As a captain, you would have some different roles as a captain. You're not just focused. It's not a big enough department that you're just the captain over patrol, or just the captain over the [00:06:00] canine unit, or that sort of thing.

Would that be accurate to say? Yeah, I mean, every department is different. Um, I think Spokane's up to around 300 sworn officers now. It was closer to 270 during my career. Um, and, and yeah, as the K 9 unit, I commanded that as a lieutenant, the SWAT unit. As a lieutenant, as captain, I had roles like the entire patrol division or the entire investigative, um, or all of support services.

And so you, you become a, uh, you have a much larger purview, uh, rather than a more. Uh, you know, precise 1, uh, narrow, um, and, uh, you know, they, they had the rank of major for a while. And I, I was a major when they had that rank, they ended up getting rid of that rank and restructure. And that became a very outward facing job or as like, as captain of patrol, you're.

Focused on running the patrol division and helping solve the problems associated with that when you're the major of operations, you're, you know, [00:07:00] dealing with city council and you're dealing with, it's a very outward sort of facing position and that's, that's a, that's a gear shift that shifts your gears into mode.

So it was a valuable experience. I can't say I enjoyed it as much as focused, but it was what it was. You had, when we were having our pre conversations about what we would like to talk about focusing on law enforcement, you brought up the aspect of police corruption and it really, just in our brief conversation, it really opened my mind to it that it's a lot more complicated than what I would have ever thought police corruption is and it's one of your specialities and so maybe, uh, you could just kick us off and What has, what got you thinking about police corruption?

Well, I, I should be clear. Um, Steve, just to say that I'm not purporting to be an expert on this subject. I haven't written a book or a doctoral thesis or anything like that. There are people [00:08:00] far more knowledgeable than I am. Um, so I think I would say rather that it has been a. A personal focus of mine, especially post career, I've really paid attention because I, it fascinates me, um, you know, I, I first came across the idea of corruption, um, you know, as a young patrol officer and, and I was very dismissive of the idea.

Um, because I didn't see any around me and I felt like it was a bunch of old ninnies worrying about something that wasn't there. You know, ghosts and goblins under the bed. Let's focus on something real. Like, let's, you know, take care of this domestic violence problem. Let's take care of this drug house over here.

Um, and, and, you know, that was Hmm. That was my perception. It probably wasn't correct entirely, but it was, you know, born of my experience. And just to give you an idea, kind of where Spokane was at the time, we had a, uh, uh, convenience store [00:09:00] located, uh, uh, it's changed hand multiple times. So I guess it's fair to Bring up where it was, uh, located at Francis and wall in Spokane.

There was a Chevron station at the time. It was clean, had like a couple of booths on each side that were, you know, weren't broken down and it was clean. You could go in there. You could write reports and they gave. Cops, taxi drivers, ambulance drivers, and the bread guy, uh, 0. 25 coffee. You know, they want you to stay awake while you're on the road, and they wanted cops to come in at night because they were less likely to get robbed if there was a guy in a uniform sitting there writing a report.

So that became a destination for us when we, oh, hey, I got to write a report. I'll meet you up at Francis and Wall. Let's knock this out. That 0. 25 coffee was viewed by our administration at the time as a gratuity and therefore corruption. So that was the kind of stuff that I was hearing when corruption came up in my early patrol years.

And so you can imagine why I kind of dismissed it. Um, and of course, I revisited it later on because it's an [00:10:00] interesting discussion, but, you know, I don't think when I say the word police corruption, people probably picture, you know, a cop getting a 25 cent cup of coffee along with the bread guy and the tack, you know, the cab driver at night.

Right? So that's where that's where it started. Um, yeah. You know, later on, I kind of had to look at it from a leadership standpoint and recognize where where the pitfalls lay and I was fortunate to be from what I would term a clean department. Now, I think that's probably my own bias kicking in there. So feel free if you've read up on Spokane and want to call me on on it, because there have certainly been scandalous behaviors that have occurred.

But when I say clean department, I guess I mean, institutionally. Thank you. Uh, even though there have been some bad actors like the department of any size, um, and, and I was always proud of that fact that, that I, you know, came to partner, but I recognized, you know, the danger exists, the danger exists. And then when I got out into the even bigger world after, after, uh, retiring [00:11:00] and got into some cultures where it was a little more prevalent.

Um, I just kind of reinforced my, my book that I came from a pretty good in, in this respect. Steve here. We are a member of the Parthenon Podcast Network featuring great shows like Richard Lim's This American President and other great shows. Go to parthenon podcast.com to learn more, and here is a quick word from our sponsors and I can see where you, that idea that, oh yeah, it's just a 25 cent co coffee, but you almost had, there was a quid pro quo of some sort.

They wanted. Cops to hang out there too, but and I can see where that snowballs and even in my own profession as a teacher, you get gifts all the time from students and 99. 99999 percent of the time it's completely completely nonstop. Honest and it's just they want to give you a gift. They're appreciative of it.

And I'm sure as a [00:12:00] cop, people would love to give you a bottle of scotch or something because you help them out. But then you almost do feel like there is some sort of expectation that when a bump in the road comes along that you're in some compromised position of some degree. You know, it's definitely a spectrum.

Up here in Canada, there was a burger joint that used to give cops, I think it was like half price lunches, I don't know, like you brought up the 25 cent coffee and like the vast majority of the public is just going to look at that and go like, this is ridiculous. Like, what are you guys even talking about?

They just want some cops around in the, in the coffee shop late at night, right? And then, but it does be, it can become a slippery slope, like, uh, Like, I've read a fair amount about Whitey Bulger, and, um, back in the day, like, the, the, uh, detectives that were his handlers, I'm trying to remember their names right now, it's escaping me, you know, Bulger would give them gifts, and at first, it kind of started off like, oh, it was, you know, it was like [00:13:00] a, I don't know, it was like a Like a ring or something like that, or maybe a couple hundred bucks.

And then increasingly the gifts got more and more extravagant to the point where like, like you guys can't be doing this. Like this is, this is illegal. It's against the rules. But I don't know. It's crazy how people make like a big. Deal with something like 0. 25 coffee and then immediately it almost makes people want to just kind of dismiss the whole idea that there's police corruption because it's ridiculous, right?

It's a, it's much of what goes on in terms of just debate in general that goes on in society now, where it's just like, really, we're getting upset about this. And then nobody wants to take anything else, but take the, uh, the rest of the stuff really seriously, if that makes sense. It does. And, and you brought up a, a, a several good points.

I mean, one good point is that for most cops, and I mean that 99 percentile, like you, you mentioned the closest thing they're ever going to get to corruption is, Oh, 25 cent coffee at Francis and wall. That sounds cool. [00:14:00] You know, and they're not going to, uh, uh, amend how they do their job. They're not going to extend particular, uh, or favored treatment.

Uh, it's, it's, it's a big nothing. Yeah. And that's what it was for me. I wasn't going to, you know, if I went to that, the owner of Francis walls house on a domestic, he wasn't going to not go to jail for hitting his wife because I got 25 cent coffee. You might make a stink about it afterwards, but he's not getting out of getting arrested.

Right? And that's kind of what it is for, for, like I said, the vast majority of officers, but it does become kind of tricky. You talk about that half off burger thing is the other point you brought up that that I think is kind of funny is. Somebody always has to ruin it for everybody. Right? Um, and, and they're everywhere I went.

It didn't matter where I went, whether it was up in the Northeast, Southwest, up in Canada, Canada, East Coast, Canada, out West and in the prairies. It was always the same. If something like this existed, you know, if a, if a dinner place [00:15:00] said, we're going to adopt a cop. And when that cops on shift, he gets half off his meals because maybe we don't pay our cops a lot around here, or it's an appreciation thing or whatever.

And everybody seems okay with it. Eventually, some cop is going to decide on his day off. He's going to take his whole extended family there and expect the discount and make a fuss when he doesn't get, you know, he's going to come through the pizza place that gives half off an order. 25 pies. You know, I mean, they just, there's always an idiot that screws it up for everybody and calls attention to it in a negative way.

Um, but maybe it needs to have attention, right? Because it can be a slippery slope. Like you mentioned. You said that Spokane was overall a good department. How do you define a good department? And then maybe, how do you define a bad department? Yeah, that's a tough one, because defining what's a good department, what's a bad department.

First off, I think is it's not an objective of an objective thing. It doesn't exist in a vacuum. The [00:16:00] culture of the place where that department exists, um, and the system it resides within plays a part. Um, you know, I think you're going to bring up At some point in the conversation, the idea of a corruption spectrum, a spectrum of corruption and, you know, where that, you know, how that spectrum looks and what's on the light end and the dark end of that spectrum is impacted by where, where you live.

I mean, I had a buddy of mine who. Was, uh, served as the IA sergeant for a little while, and he went to school and he's sitting there in the IA school. I don't remember where it was and they're talking about things that happened within a department and how to approach them. And he's just kind of flabbergasted by how terrible some of the stories that they're being presented are and.

And he kind of got up to a couple of guys from Boston. I think it was actually, um, if you're from Boston and I'm, and this sounds bad, don't hate me. Cause I could be wrong, but he asked these guys from Boston. Is that, is that real? You know, because like, [00:17:00] you know, we, we in Spokane, we take anonymous demeanor complaints.

That means Chris, you can get on the phone and call my police department and say, Frank's Glees was a jerk to me. At this time and place, well, what's your name? And you can hang up and they'll still investigate that. Right? And so my, my, my friend, Dave, that, you know, that was the policy, right? Investigate everything.

And so my friend, Dave tells this to the Boston cops, and they just look at them and, and they'd been in for a little while at that point, of course, was required, but they didn't have to take it right away. Anyway, he guy says to him, uh, We don't even bother with if it's not a felony now, 1 caveat, my buddy Dave is a storyteller.

So whether they said felony or not, they might have said crime. They could have, it could, he could have been exaggerating a little bit. He's prone to doing that, but that's still a long ways from an anonymous demeanor complaint. And so I was, I mean, this was shocking to him. It was shocking to me. And so, uh, but [00:18:00] culture has to do with that, right?

The guys told him if you're not, if you're not making 50%, 70 percent more. Right. In street money, then you're not working and Dave was like, what's street money, you know, so, so there's a difference. Right. Um, but I would say a good department is a department that provides necessary law enforcement service.

To to the constituency to the people and has the trust of the people that they serve and, and, you know, it's, it's easy to say it's kind of hard to define, but I mean, that that is 1 definition of a good place to. I think you can see, though, that that different idea of trend. It's almost a transparency.

Yeah, it can be a little Nick nitpicky. Bill working the south side today was a little bit of a jerk, but you could honestly see that maybe there was a pattern that Bill was being a jerk every day. That's something that if you cared, you could take corrective measures were in that other department, uh, not to pick on Boston, but let's say Boston and you have Bill in [00:19:00] Boston and he's just allowed to be a jerk all the time.

And then that does corrode the trust. Yeah, I have a theory that has absolutely zero academic support. I haven't checked it out. It's good. I could be totally blowing smoke here. Um, and, and you gentlemen feel free to poke holes in it. Um, but I think that in, in your Eastern U. S. police departments that were founded.

Centuries ago, when policing was a very different animal and when the expectations on the police and who ran the police and what their purpose was, was very different. I think that they are because those things become part of the culture, even if the original behaviors go away, the, the, it's still part of the culture as it changes.

I think they're more susceptible to, to that kind of, uh, of, Of corruption, particularly if there's an organized crime element that's prevalent, [00:20:00] that's, that's very, you know, very much a part of the fabric of the culture as well. Whereas, you know, I mean, Spokane was founded in 1884. I have to go check and see when the police department was founded, but obviously sometime after that.

Um, and, and so what a police department supposed to do, while it's very different than what it is today, it was also very different than what it was in 1780 in New York. Yeah. You know, or, or Boston, since we're picking on Boston, because, you know, they think they have to win every championship that's out there.

So screw them. Um, you know, I mean, it's just it's and so culture matters and where we come from and how we develop through the years matters. And, and I'm not saying better or worse East versus West. I'm just saying that, that they develop different and, and maybe Chris, you could touch on it too. That, you know, things in Canada is a different culture.

It's similar to the US, but there are some. Yeah. Pronounce differences as well. And so maybe, you know, the way that Canadian law enforcement developed was different than the way it developed into us. [00:21:00] Well, I know we were speaking for, like, Quebec, because we, we talked a lot about, um, I haven't released the episode yet, but we've talked a lot about, like, Vito Rizzuto and the Rizzuto crime family in Quebec.

And there's a long history of corruption that went. On in Quebec, like, to the point where, with the Hells Angels, like, there were members of the Quebec government, like, asking the, the federal government, like, can you, like, do something about this? And at that time, I don't know what the laws are right now, but the federal government really didn't really want to get involved.

It's like, this is a provincial matter. You guys kind of have to figure this out. But, like, Quebec, And I don't know, people will probably get angry at me, but there's like a long, long history of like deep corruption and the Quebec police force and the Quebec law system. I mean, um, you know, it goes back to like, like, the Controni and like before that.

And I mean, kind of, I guess it's similar to how the Italians, uh, saw like law enforcement in the government period. [00:22:00] Like they brought that kind of mentality from Sicily and they brought it over. Okay. Into the United States and even the Irish to write, uh, with, you know, whenever the English showed up, nothing good happens.

And they kind of associated like the angle, upper crust and the United States with the English really. Um, and with Quebec and, you know, they were kind of isolated. They spoke a different language, different religion. So there was just like, kind of an innate. I think there was like, like an innate distrust of government period.

This is my opinion. And I don't know anything about Quebec, to be honest with you. So I wouldn't want to comment on that. But the, the dynamics that you describe are not unique to that area. If that's what's going on, it's, it's a definitely, you know, everything exists within a system, right? And you know, I had a friend, a very close friend who took on a training.

Role is the chief trainer, essentially for an Eastern agency that that I won't name, I guess, because mostly because I [00:23:00] taught there a couple of different times. So I spent like 6 weeks there at various times and there's a lot of good cops there, but but they, they live and work in a department that has some corruption issues.

And they exist within a municipality that is corrupt. I mean, their, the previous mayor went to prison for corruption. Um, you know, the current mayor, uh, mayor at the time that my friend was working there, um, wasn't any better. Um, they brought in a, a, a, a reformer chief, a colleague of mine that I also, that also taught within this program, great guy out of, out of, uh, the, uh.

What do you call it? Like Michigan, Wisconsin, that area. It's not the Midwest is upper Midwest, maybe upper Midwest. Right. So, you know, that's his background in terms of geography. He goes in and tries to reform and he was up against the culture, not just the police department culture, which is formidable enough when you're talking 800 people, a thousand [00:24:00] people that can have their own culture, but the city culture and the regional culture, all of which reinforced many of these behaviors.

I don't know that there was a big organized crime, uh, presence there. Um, I, there was on the other side of the state and another, another agency that's pretty well known for its corruption. Uh, so maybe there was, but even without that, it was difficult. It was impossible. He ended up leaving without not having accomplished his mission.

It did not change. Um, so culture is huge cultures like gravity, you know, it's, it's inexorable and, and it's extremely hard to change. And if you're trying as a police chief. Um, to change a department that has some corruption issues and some members who may be corrupt and you have a culture you're battling that with inside the department and you're having to fight an external culture that reinforces all of that and won't allow you to make the changes that you want to make, um, because they're ineffective because they don't work in a corrupt environment.

You [00:25:00] know, what do you do? I mean, you're, you're, it becomes a real, real problem, uh, and a difficult one to solve if it is solved. Yeah. That aspect of culture is another thing that I never really thought about in working in schools. I, we've talked about this before that schools and police departments have so many crossovers, but culture, you can have the top down, but it's really hard to penetrate into the bottom.

If there's a lot of veterans who have been around for a long time and they're They've been there 15, 20 years and they're the ones who are, in a lot of ways, they're the more ground level of mentorship of the new people coming in. Yeah, the, the chief or the superintendent or the principal can come in and say, Hey guys, we're doing it this way.

But it's really hard when the 15 year veterans saying we, this is how things are done around here. Yeah. And, and in any agency, police or education [00:26:00] or, or any, anything like that, it, you're talking about like your sergeants, basically you and your veteran teachers and these folks, they're doing what they're doing the way they're doing it because it's working, even if it's broken, it's working in some fashion.

And if you're going to come in and try to change that, what you're, Yeah. Trying to change it to better work as well, or show promise of working. Otherwise, they're not going to change. And, you know, there's an old saying that that I encountered pretty early in my career that I found out pretty much every cop gets told this at some point in their career, and it's always when they're a rookie or young cop, and it's always by an old salt.

I mean, it's, it's almost a cliche at this point, but it goes like this, uh, The brass comes down, they come to roll call, lieutenant comes to roll call, captain comes to roll call, whatever, Hey, this is the new program. This is what we're doing now. And they give you the buzzword. You know, I can't tell you how many buzzwords I heard in a 20 year career.

I mean, I know you have to in education, you know, [00:27:00] no child left behind, you know, uh, you know, we're doing, you know, whatever student led teaching, whatever. It's the same thing. We're community oriented policing, neighborhood oriented policing, you know, uh, Uh, intelligence led policing, all of these different buzzwords and some of them, and they weren't just buzzwords.

Some of them were fantastic ideas that if implemented or when implemented are effective, but one of the mistakes leadership often makes is they change course so often that nobody really gets a chance to get grounded with the direction that we were going. And then people. Are like, Hey, we're just going to change course in six months.

Why am I going to engage? And that's what the old assault tells the young rookie when they come into roll call spouting about this new buzzword. And, and the rookie's like, well, how am I supposed to do this? And how am I supposed to do that? And the old guy just told me, just put your head down, take your calls, do your job in six months.

They'll be back with some other shiny toy to talk about. And, and so that's the cynical. And not entirely incorrect at times viewpoint that can exist at the ground level at [00:28:00] the, you know, the mid level for your, your veterans and your mentors. And so you have to overcome that and people talk about, like, uh, with both your professions, you guys are like, have to deal with unions and stuff like that.

So you can't even. Even if you catch a dirty cop, it's like a huge process to even get rid of them. Like the union's in place to make sure he doesn't get fired. And I, I don't know, I think people have this like false impression of just how you can change like a big organization, say, I don't know, we'll just use the Boston police force or the New York police force.

Like it takes. A long, long time to do it and it takes a long time and it takes a lot of people to actually be committed to wanting to make that change. And like you brought up, like, you know, we're talking about guys have been on the force for like 20 years. Sometimes like you're trying to get them to change their ways and.

It's, it's a huge process to be able to deal with a lot of these problems. Like, I know everyone thinks that you can just fix a problem with these large bureaucracies, like, oh, you can just do it [00:29:00] overnight. I mean, like, you can to a degree, like, you can just blow it all up and then just start from scratch.

But you can't, but you can't, can you? Yeah, exactly. That's why you can't you can't just fire all the cops and have them reapply for their job. And what contract with another police department to for your police services while that's happening. I don't that I guess you could try it. It'd be it'd be a mess.

You're going to fire all the teachers and bring in subs while you reinterview them. I guess you could, but what's the impact going to be? On the people you're trying to give service delivery to to those kids in the classroom or those citizens on the street. I think you make a great point there, Chris.

It's not a speedboat. It's an aircraft carrier. You know, it doesn't turn around as quickly as as people want it to and and so people get a little bit. Maybe inpatient leadership changes and changes the course. And so they shift course again. So now it feels like you haven't made any progress or, or even leadership just changes their minds because it's not happening [00:30:00] fast enough, or they get pressure.

I mean, all kinds of things can happen. So culture is a huge thing. Culture is a huge thing. And, and how corruption is viewed, what, what constitutes corruption, how corruption is dealt with, um, All of these things I think are heavily influenced by culture. I mean, if a cop murders somebody, I mean, that's going to be the same everywhere.

You know, if a cop is kicking in doors with his buddies and, and, and robbing drug dealers or dealing drugs, I mean, that's going to be dealt the same. Across the boards. There's no agency out there is going to say, well, you know, that's, you know, they, they, they, they, they put in a card and took some time off before they went and did that.

So, I mean, you're not going to get that. But on the other end of the spectrum, the 0. 25 coffee and up, you get different responses and what, what corruption is. From personally, like, I work in like a non union environment, right? Like, I work at a scrapyard and just even there with relatively, I don't know, it's not large staff, but like, it's, [00:31:00] it's not small either.

And it just to change something, even something, even personally, like, I've had a couple of freak outs where I'm just like, Why do we insist on doing something stupid? Do you know what I mean? But it's just, it's just, it's just the nature of how, like we pointed out, like how just bureaucracy works, like it's just this, it's this slow moving behemoth that takes forever to make a right turn.

That's the nature of bureaucracy, right? It's intended to work that way. The purpose of bureaucracy is to confer stability. And, and yet there, and therefore, because it's so stable, it's difficult and time consuming to make changes. So I think, I think you nailed it. Now you laid out, uh, at least 1 part of this conversation of, okay, the 25 cent coffee is a way to show appreciation.

I appreciate you. And here's a new Tesla. That's there's a spectrum of corruption there, but there was something else that you had talked about [00:32:00] when we were planning. This out is corruption that starts from the best of intentions kind of. Good, good intentions that lead to corruption. And I'd love for them to hear a little bit more about that, really a lot of it more, to be honest.

Yeah. The term that I hear that's been used most commonly in the profession is noble cause corruption. And, um, I, I, I don't know who coined the phrase. I know that somebody wrote a book about it that was on every promotional exam I ever took. And the first couple of times I. I read it just so that I could answer the questions and I, I, I, I even thought it was BS.

I didn't think it was, it was legit. But the idea of noble cause corruption is that you take a good person in a, in a role of responsibility. In this case, a police officer. And imagine you go and you arrest a child molesting murderer. And guilt is, [00:33:00] I mean, you catch him in the act. I mean, whatever. Guilt is not in question in this scenario.

Um, but you, you make a small clerical mistake that would become a procedural error that actually could put things into jeopardy. Maybe you, Asked him a couple of questions. He made a guilt, a guilty statement. And then you remembered you hadn't read him as Moran writes yet. This is actually a pretty big violation, but it works for our example.

So then you read him the rights, you read the guy's rights and, and go from there. And, and he doesn't make that same confession again. That confession is going to ultimately be inadmissible and maybe it's enough to keep them from getting convicted. And so you decide, you know, I read him his rights. He's guilty as hell.

He admitted it. It's a procedural harmless error on my part that's going to have this major issue come of it. I'm just going to write in my report that I read him his rights and then I started asking him questions. It's just a [00:34:00] small little white lie. And in doing that, I am going to ensure that this Pedophile murderer doesn't get acquitted on a procedural error that I made that is essentially harmless.

So are you going to find anybody in the world except a lawyer that's going to argue that you did something wrong there? I mean, most cops are going to, would consider that at least. Um, if they were faced with that situation, that's still corruption, right? Isn't it? It's a lie. It's not your job to make sure somebody gets convicted.

It's your job to enforce the law and to write reports truthfully and to administer the procedures. But if you do it incorrectly to document that you made that mistake and let the courts figure out how to deal. That's technically your role. So it's a form of corruption, but it's a, it was done for noble purposes and.

This can be the start and you know, could be something that occurs once and never again. You could have cops that never do anything like that. You could have cops that that's the they do one small thing like that in [00:35:00] their entire 25 year career and that's it. But from a. Psychological standpoint from a behavioral standpoint, it can lead to well, this time I, you know, he didn't exactly say he did it, but he kind of gave me a, he raised his eyebrows like at me, but he didn't say yes, but he meant yes.

And he was being a smart ass, but I'm going to put yes, because I know we did it. And then you're planting evidence at this point on a guilt. You know, I mean, I'm trying to remember what movie it is where the guy says, uh, Oh, uh, LA Confidential. When the, um, the Irish captain asks, um, the Guy Pearce character, Bagley, Bagley, Ed, whatever his last name is, asks, asks him, you know, would you plant evidence on a suspect you know to be guilty?

And Ed says no, and he's like, this job's not for me. Well, you know, planting evidence on somebody, you know, to be guilty, that infers again, a noble purpose, but you're doing something wrong, very wrong. It [00:36:00] can round a bend at some point. I mean, most people argue that's already around the bend, but your purpose is still, I'm trying to make the world a better place.

I'm trying to put bad guys that I know are bad guys in jail. No question. It can round the bend into, uh, self. Aggrandizement self, uh, bettering your own circumstances on, you know, keeping money, stealing money, starting money and things of this nature. And that's where the slippery slope idea comes in. Um, there's fascinating, uh, case study in Chicago, um, back 2000s.

I think it happened 2008. Maybe I could be wrong early 2000s. It's a Chicago S. O. S. group. Um. Yeah. In which a guy, you know, he, he was a idealistic cop and he started doing exactly the kind of things I'm talking about. And in this scenario, there was a mentor. There was a guy he looked up to even before he came on the department that kind of showed him the way and let him down the garden path.

And what started [00:37:00] as a guy's running from me and he ditches the gun and when I catch him, I decide the gun I picked up in the bush that he threw there never left his hand because I want to make this an airtight case. And this guy, you know, you know, killed 3 people and he's a drug dealer and, you know, piece of garbage.

He went from that kind of behavior, which is bad enough, most people would argue, to they're kicking in doors and stealing 30, 000 from, from the safe of drug dealers. And then after they got caught putting out hits on some of the other cops in their group, I mean, it's a terrible story. It's a horrible story.

And if you're a police officer, you listen to it in horror because it's such a. You know, 0. 0001 percent sort of thing, but it happened rampart happened. You know, it does happen. Um, but it doesn't start with, uh, you know, what, what do they do in New York where they, I think they, you know, they sodomize somebody with a flashlight or screwdriver or something.

That's a big story around the same time. And I mean. That's not day 1 [00:38:00] of, of, of noble cause corruption, you know, day 1 is a free pizza or whatever, you know, and, and so the idea is that that's why that 25 cent coffee is something you have to take a look at. That's why. Uh, no, no zero tolerance rule or a very tight grip on what you expect from your officers and what is allowed in terms of, of appreciation and so forth is so important because it's almost like a disease.

You can't get a little bit pregnant. You just, you get pregnant and it grows. That's kind of the idea. So I know that was a long and rambling explanation, but there's a lot of. Academia out there about noble cause corruption. If people are interested, there's, like I said, there's textbooks and plenty of papers on the topic.

It's pretty well known. And then you can check it out.

Steve here again with a quick word from our sponsors. I got understand like, I [00:39:00] totally get this slipper. So I mean, Steve have gone back and forth about this a couple of times. It's like cop walks into a house and it's some guy that's, I don't know, pimping out his daughter and You know, there's drugs all over the place and, you know, he decides, you know, I'm just going to change the report a little bit different to get this guy off the street.

There's a part of me that's just like, you know what, just go ahead and do it, man. You know, like this guy deserves to be behind bars. It's like this, this person's scum of the earth. It's not like this person's going to turn around and all of a sudden change his life. How often does that happen? Let's be honest here.

And then, but then. It becomes a silver so play you pointed out like it starts off with something like that. And it's like, oh, I got away with it the 1st time. And then, you know, like, you plan a good result came of it, right? That's how you're seeing it. Well, yeah, you know, like, you got a scumbag off the streets, like, not like, not like, just like a guy who stole a good.

You know, some candy bars at a store. We're talking like the worst of the worst people [00:40:00] that I think for the vast majority of the human population really has a difficult time, maybe even comprehending some of the people that police officers have to deal with, like, have seen and have had to deal with.

Like, you just you see the. Absolute utter worst of humanity and, you know, maybe you change the report just a little bit or, you know, you change something just once just to be able to get this one disgusting scumbag off the streets and maybe save that little girl's life. Or give her a fighting chance, right?

You know, yeah, give her a fighting chance. I think the whole idea of you sleepwalking into that level of corruption, that it just starts off as just that tiniest thing. I'm going to put this guy away, uh, because I, I know they're, they're dead to rights. They've done that. And then it just. It can start getting a little bit grayer, a little bit grayer, a little bit grayer, and then it just makes it so much easier to get into the really bad corruption of, I don't make that much [00:41:00] money as a cop and I gotta, you know, put my kids through college and it's not fair.

So, and they have all this money from drugs. So, you know, if a couple of packets fall into my Bag on the way out, then, you know, that's not a big deal. Once you start making those little bad decisions, it just key. It's like an escalator. You just can't get off of it. Yeah. And so two quick points there. One, I want to be really clear.

The overwhelming majority of police officers that I have come in contact with don't do this kind of stuff. Not even close. They're very conscientious that is preached from the academy onward. And a lot of people, even though they might look at a book like noble cause corruption and had the same reaction I did when I first came across it and be like, I don't need to read that.

I'm not, I'm not dirty. I don't take. I'm not on the dole or whatever they still intuitively understand the concept. They understand I have to be true and remain true to do this job. And so they just do if they ever do anything [00:42:00] like that. It's extremely minor and probably a once in a career event. That probably no one would have a problem with, but it's still wrong, right?

So that's one point. I just, I want to be really clear on, I don't want to sit here and sound like, you know, uh, I'm saying that, uh, that the cops do this willy nilly because it's not even close to the truth. Um, but to your point, Steve, you know, it's, it's not that it is a slippery slope, but it's not that far to jump from.

I know for an absolute fact, because it happened in front of me, this guy did it to Chris saw him do it. And I trust Chris to. Objectively speaking, the facts point to the fact that he probably almost certainly did it too. I'm pretty sure he did it too. He might have done it and he's probably done some other stuff too.

And if you're doing the same action to make sure that person goes to jail, you know, over a period of time, it can, you know, it can morph to that, the, the lower the threshold is going to lower, I guess, if you start to make that a practice. Um, and so that's why, you know, yeah. Better, better to not [00:43:00] start in the first point, you know, and void it entirely.

And I think you make a good point that it's. Most cops, the vast, vast majority and want to do the best, they punch in the clock every day to do their best and, but they're trained from the beginning to check these things that you do things by the, the book. And is that as a leader, was that something when you moved from the, from the patrol side and from the, uh, I guess the, the ground level, and as you started to move up into leadership, Were those some of the things that you were looking for and putting in systems and thinking about systems of how, you know, the best cop on your department, making sure that he stayed on the course?

Um, I'll answer that. I did want to give you a quick analogy. I think that brings that last portion of our conversation really into a tighter focus. Um, I think for the individual officer, the issue of potentially falling prey to a [00:44:00] form of corruption, however slight without really being aware of it. You said sleepwalking into it.

I think that that's a good way to put it. But I think it's a combination of kind of a forest and trees problem. When you're a police officer, you're focused on the trees. In fact, maybe just this 1 tree in this particular moment and much like a lumberjack, it's a good thing because that tree might kill you.

So pay attention to that trade. Um, but it does mean you don't necessarily see the forest and so the things that you're doing, you could sleepwalk a little if you weren't paying attention. And then also, as I think I kind of mentioned before, as it becomes that frog and boiling water problem to, you know, you can get progressively lower that threshold to your leadership question.

I was fortunate. I think. In that I didn't have to develop these systems. They were already in place. Um, you know, we had a chief who was chief when I came on who, who took this very seriously and his successors did as well. And so, you know, I mean, I was. Still in a department where the 25 cent [00:45:00] cup of coffee was something that we took a look at.

So the systems were in place. Um, the concerns were always there. And, you know, you're never going to completely be able to stop individual bad actors. It doesn't matter how much you screen people and believe me, if I told you, we can spend 20 minutes about the, on the screening process to become a police officer, at least in most of the agencies I'm familiar with.

And I think you'd be surprised. How difficult it is, uh, to get past that screening process. But even so, you're still going to have bad actors that get past and they do it. And there's always, uh, you know, uh, people do things. There are people doing things that are bad across every walk of life. And policing is no different.

The big difference is the impact. You know, teaching is similar in this regard. If you have a teacher who does something that's scandalous. It has an outsized impact. I mean, you know, Chris, if you're working, if somebody in the scrapyard does something in their job, that's not great, it's going to [00:46:00] have an impact, but it might not have a city wide impact or a state or province wide impact, but in teaching or policing, I think, you know, it's because of the responsibility that's given to the people.

And the authority to exercise and deal with that responsibility when bad things happen, they are outsized and how much attention is given to them. And I think rightfully so I'm not decrying that that scenario, but I was fortunate. We already had things in place. And so all I had to do is unfortunately deal with the individuals who.

Who failed and address that I didn't have systemic issues to do. Yeah, you brought up the, uh, like the spotlight the police have on them and it's. It's perfectly like, it's 100 percent true, right? Like, it's easy for. The spotlight go like, to go on, like, the corrupt police officers or what have you, because I don't mean, let's be honest.

I don't know what everybody else's opinion is. Like, nobody likes being pulled over by the police, right? Like, there's almost like an inherent, like, I don't like these type of guys. Like, straight off the bat, when you talk to the [00:47:00] vast majority of people, right? So when there's any type of corruption, there's a huge, like, magnifying glass on it, right?

Like, where, um, just people love to talk about it and people like to focus on it. And rightfully so, right? Because police officers, as you pointed out, have an opportunity to do some really, really, really, really, really bad things if there's not there's not enough oversight. But I think it's just 1 of those.

Right. Professions were when somebody screws up, everyone loves the dog pile on it. And I cannot understand, like, the police officers, like, getting really defensive when, uh, situations like that happen, where, as you pointed out, like, the 99 percent of the police officers that you met in your, uh, tenure for working, you know, through, uh, uh, various police forces.

They're 100 percent like, legit, they're squeaky clean, right? And, you know, one, a few bad apples, uh, make everybody else look bad. But then, it's the entire media apparatus. It's Twitter, it's [00:48:00] social media, it's everything. Everyone's jumping on it. It's because of the nature of how policing has changed. You don't really have police officers.

I don't know how it works in Spokane. Or, you know, where I grew up in Toronto, there's no police officers walking the beat. You know, I couldn't, I didn't know any police officers by their first name or, or anything like that, whether they had family or, you know, like, uh, back in the day, police officers used to like, kind of walk the, the beat in the neighborhoods and people used to kind of know, like there was a fixture in the neighborhood.

Um, so almost every interaction you end up having with police officers nowadays, uh, is typically negative. I mean, uh, uh, I mean, just real quickly, I'll say people don't like the cops, but they sure do like us when somebody's breaking down their door. You like us then , how do you like me now? Right? I've taken that guy to jail.

Um, but, uh, uh, but you're right. Um, and, and, and lately of course, there's been even more negative press in the last few years. It's gotten, uh, [00:49:00] amplified. Um, as the world gets smaller, every bad act that happens anywhere gets broadcast to the, to the entire. You know, country or entire, uh, continent. And so it feels like it's happening more often when in reality, I just think it's being reported more widely to more people because that's the nature of the world that we live.

But you're right. Um, you know, I, another one of my pet theories and I don't think it's that crazy is that when we took the officer off the beat and put them in a car, we, we, we lost something. Now we gained something too. We gained, you know, you know, strategic ability to deploy rapidly to crimes in progress.

And that's a big thing. And that was a great development. And, and, and there are advantages to that, that I don't think we can go back from that. We would not want to go back, but we did lose something. Um, and, you know, ideas like neighborhood oriented policing, community oriented policing, these programs.

You know, are, are geared towards trying to [00:50:00] put that back into, uh, some form of that back into play so that, uh, the relationships between communities and their police departments are more organic and more pronounced and more person to person rather than entity to entity. But ironically, when you had that.

Cop walking the beat. It was during a time when cops didn't make a whole lot. So that's why people, you know, took terms given the cop free meal while he was on duty. Right? Because they knew he probably couldn't afford lunch. So this, you know, he's come to my diner today. He's coming to yours tomorrow.

He'll eat with Steve on Wednesday. And, you know, it's not a big deal. We're taking care of our neighborhood cop. And just like the noble cause corruption kind of slide that we talked about, you know, that. Yeah. That becomes an entitlement rather than an assistance, and that entitlement then becomes a demand and then it escalates.

And now we've got situations in the 70s. and so, [00:51:00] um, no, no system is perfect, but I think you're onto something. Chris. I think I think that, uh. Effective policing really does start with community engagement and, and of course you have to have a ready reaction group as well for crisis sorts of events, but that's become our focus.

And in some instances, if you're understaffed to a particular degree, that might be all you can do is respond to those sort of events. And that's an unhealthy department when you get to that point, because you're not engaging the community. You can't, um, and. Thank you. If you're disassociated from the community, that's another opportunity I think, for corruption to work its way in one fashion.

You've been listening to Organized Crime and Punishment, a History 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 [00:52:00] friend of ours by sending us an email to crime at A to Z history page dot com.

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Title: Noble Cause Corruption: Police Corruption for All the Best Reasons?

Original Publication Date: 11/1/2023

Transcript URL: https://share.descript.com/view/YErXOzeB214

Description: In today’s episode of Organized Crime and Punishment, we explore the intricate relationship between law enforcement and crime. We look into the complexities, ethical dilemmas, and consequences that arise when these two worlds collide. Join us as we unravel the hidden aspects of this captivating intersection. This episode features 20 year police captain and true crime author Frank Scalise. https://www.frankzafiro.com/

#PoliceCorruption #OrganizedCrimePodcast #CriminalUnderworld #CrimeAndJustice #CorruptCops #UnveilingTheTruth

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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.

Thanks for joining us again on Organized Crime and Punishment. I'm your host, Steve, and I am joined as usual by our own Mustache Chris. Today, we have a very special guest, our first guest, guest, uh, as it were. Frank Scalise. Frank is a retired Spokane, Washington police officer. Is it Spokane, Spokane, Spokane?

It's definitely, it is definitely Spokane, not Spokane, not Spokant, but Spokane.

[00:01:00] Frank served at every level from patrolman to captain in his 20 year career. Look for Frank to be a fixture on the podcast to provide the law enforcement aspect of crime and punishment. In this first episode of a, of a series where we're going to begin to discuss law enforcement, we will discuss a serious topic in policing that of corruption.

Police corruption is a really complicated topic and a really a fascinating one. And I'm really excited to have Frank here to lead us through this, uh, in some ways, difficult conversation. Thank you so much for joining us today, Frank. Well, thanks for having me. I'm excited to talk about this too. And I think it's, uh, going to lend itself to an interesting discussion, given that, you know, I'm up in the Pacific Northwest.

Uh, you're down in Texas, I think, by way of the Northeast. Yeah. And, and, and Chris is up in Toronto area there in Ontario, um, in Canada. So, I mean, [00:02:00] there, there's that. Cultural divides there, and I think that comes into play when we're talking about this topic. So it'll be interesting to hear the different viewpoints.

And now, Frank, can you, we'll get into a lot of details of your biography, but can you maybe give us a 10, 000 foot view about yourself and your police career and then your post police career? Uh, sure. The, uh, thumbnail sketch is I came on the job in Spokane, Washington in 1993. For people who don't know anything about Spokane, it's in Eastern Washington.

Um, I think it's about 250, 000 people. Now it was closer to 200, uh, even to 10, maybe when I came on, uh, in my career, I was kind of fortunate. Uh, not kind of. I was very fortunate. And then I spent the first half of my career doing the job where the, where the rubber meets the road. I was patrol officer training officer.

I was a detective. I was a corporal. Um, and, and I, so I did the work that that police are there to [00:03:00] do about halfway through my career. I kind of fell backwards into a leadership. Position, uh, as a sergeant and, and had to reassess my career a bit in terms of what I wanted to accomplish and, and, and what leadership meant and, and I embrace that.

So, uh, I spent the 2nd, half of my career in leadership roles and I retired as a captain. The good thing about that was. I did some different things in patrol and in investigations, but I got to see an even greater breadth of the department in my leadership roles. And so. Like, I got to command, for instance, the canine unit.

Um, now, I learned a lot about canines. I mean, I couldn't have jumped in the car and taken a shift for one of the guys if they were sick. Uh, not even close. I didn't know a hundredth of what they knew. But I knew enough, uh, I knew a hundred times more than the public did though. So, I mean, it was a good education.

And, and that happened in every unit that I was fortunate enough to, to command during my career. And, and so this gave me [00:04:00] a little bit of a different view than say, someone who spent their entire career as a detective or as patrol officer. Retire as a captain, as I mentioned, post career, I spent about 4 years teaching a course for the International Association of chiefs of police.

And this is a, it's either nonprofit or not for profit. I forget the difference in which it is. But it has a mission to assist police agencies in a variety of ways. And one of those ways is training. And the course that I was teaching at a national level is called leadership and policing, pretty intensive three week course, where we'd go in for a week and do the first week and then come back a month later, do week two, and then finish with week three a month after that, very heavy into behavioral science.

And, and, and created with a very, uh, with an eye towards application in the policing world. Um, this was pretty cool too, because, you know, I spent my whole career in Spokane and then I went to a few different training [00:05:00] conferences and other things and interacted with other agencies, but I was pretty Spokane centric for that 20 years.

Um, and in fact, the biggest stretch I probably had was working with other municipal. Entities, you know, the mayor's office and the water department and the fire department and things like this. Now, suddenly, I get to travel all over the US and Canada and see all these different agencies and all these different parts of North America and that really opened my eyes and really taught me a valuable lessons that probably conversation.

3, 3 thumbnails of sketching there. Sorry about that. But now, you know. In a department of that size, it's not a huge city, but it's not a small city. I guess you could call it a medium sized city. As a captain, you would have some different roles as a captain. You're not just focused. It's not a big enough department that you're just the captain over patrol, or just the captain over the [00:06:00] canine unit, or that sort of thing.

Would that be accurate to say? Yeah, I mean, every department is different. Um, I think Spokane's up to around 300 sworn officers now. It was closer to 270 during my career. Um, and, and yeah, as the K 9 unit, I commanded that as a lieutenant, the SWAT unit. As a lieutenant, as captain, I had roles like the entire patrol division or the entire investigative, um, or all of support services.

And so you, you become a, uh, you have a much larger purview, uh, rather than a more. Uh, you know, precise 1, uh, narrow, um, and, uh, you know, they, they had the rank of major for a while. And I, I was a major when they had that rank, they ended up getting rid of that rank and restructure. And that became a very outward facing job or as like, as captain of patrol, you're.

Focused on running the patrol division and helping solve the problems associated with that when you're the major of operations, you're, you know, [00:07:00] dealing with city council and you're dealing with, it's a very outward sort of facing position and that's, that's a, that's a gear shift that shifts your gears into mode.

So it was a valuable experience. I can't say I enjoyed it as much as focused, but it was what it was. You had, when we were having our pre conversations about what we would like to talk about focusing on law enforcement, you brought up the aspect of police corruption and it really, just in our brief conversation, it really opened my mind to it that it's a lot more complicated than what I would have ever thought police corruption is and it's one of your specialities and so maybe, uh, you could just kick us off and What has, what got you thinking about police corruption?

Well, I, I should be clear. Um, Steve, just to say that I'm not purporting to be an expert on this subject. I haven't written a book or a doctoral thesis or anything like that. There are people [00:08:00] far more knowledgeable than I am. Um, so I think I would say rather that it has been a. A personal focus of mine, especially post career, I've really paid attention because I, it fascinates me, um, you know, I, I first came across the idea of corruption, um, you know, as a young patrol officer and, and I was very dismissive of the idea.

Um, because I didn't see any around me and I felt like it was a bunch of old ninnies worrying about something that wasn't there. You know, ghosts and goblins under the bed. Let's focus on something real. Like, let's, you know, take care of this domestic violence problem. Let's take care of this drug house over here.

Um, and, and, you know, that was Hmm. That was my perception. It probably wasn't correct entirely, but it was, you know, born of my experience. And just to give you an idea, kind of where Spokane was at the time, we had a, uh, uh, convenience store [00:09:00] located, uh, uh, it's changed hand multiple times. So I guess it's fair to Bring up where it was, uh, located at Francis and wall in Spokane.

There was a Chevron station at the time. It was clean, had like a couple of booths on each side that were, you know, weren't broken down and it was clean. You could go in there. You could write reports and they gave. Cops, taxi drivers, ambulance drivers, and the bread guy, uh, 0. 25 coffee. You know, they want you to stay awake while you're on the road, and they wanted cops to come in at night because they were less likely to get robbed if there was a guy in a uniform sitting there writing a report.

So that became a destination for us when we, oh, hey, I got to write a report. I'll meet you up at Francis and Wall. Let's knock this out. That 0. 25 coffee was viewed by our administration at the time as a gratuity and therefore corruption. So that was the kind of stuff that I was hearing when corruption came up in my early patrol years.

And so you can imagine why I kind of dismissed it. Um, and of course, I revisited it later on because it's an [00:10:00] interesting discussion, but, you know, I don't think when I say the word police corruption, people probably picture, you know, a cop getting a 25 cent cup of coffee along with the bread guy and the tack, you know, the cab driver at night.

Right? So that's where that's where it started. Um, yeah. You know, later on, I kind of had to look at it from a leadership standpoint and recognize where where the pitfalls lay and I was fortunate to be from what I would term a clean department. Now, I think that's probably my own bias kicking in there. So feel free if you've read up on Spokane and want to call me on on it, because there have certainly been scandalous behaviors that have occurred.

But when I say clean department, I guess I mean, institutionally. Thank you. Uh, even though there have been some bad actors like the department of any size, um, and, and I was always proud of that fact that, that I, you know, came to partner, but I recognized, you know, the danger exists, the danger exists. And then when I got out into the even bigger world after, after, uh, retiring [00:11:00] and got into some cultures where it was a little more prevalent.

Um, I just kind of reinforced my, my book that I came from a pretty good in, in this respect. Steve here. We are a member of the Parthenon Podcast Network featuring great shows like Richard Lim's This American President and other great shows. Go to parthenon podcast.com to learn more, and here is a quick word from our sponsors and I can see where you, that idea that, oh yeah, it's just a 25 cent co coffee, but you almost had, there was a quid pro quo of some sort.

They wanted. Cops to hang out there too, but and I can see where that snowballs and even in my own profession as a teacher, you get gifts all the time from students and 99. 99999 percent of the time it's completely completely nonstop. Honest and it's just they want to give you a gift. They're appreciative of it.

And I'm sure as a [00:12:00] cop, people would love to give you a bottle of scotch or something because you help them out. But then you almost do feel like there is some sort of expectation that when a bump in the road comes along that you're in some compromised position of some degree. You know, it's definitely a spectrum.

Up here in Canada, there was a burger joint that used to give cops, I think it was like half price lunches, I don't know, like you brought up the 25 cent coffee and like the vast majority of the public is just going to look at that and go like, this is ridiculous. Like, what are you guys even talking about?

They just want some cops around in the, in the coffee shop late at night, right? And then, but it does be, it can become a slippery slope, like, uh, Like, I've read a fair amount about Whitey Bulger, and, um, back in the day, like, the, the, uh, detectives that were his handlers, I'm trying to remember their names right now, it's escaping me, you know, Bulger would give them gifts, and at first, it kind of started off like, oh, it was, you know, it was like [00:13:00] a, I don't know, it was like a Like a ring or something like that, or maybe a couple hundred bucks.

And then increasingly the gifts got more and more extravagant to the point where like, like you guys can't be doing this. Like this is, this is illegal. It's against the rules. But I don't know. It's crazy how people make like a big. Deal with something like 0. 25 coffee and then immediately it almost makes people want to just kind of dismiss the whole idea that there's police corruption because it's ridiculous, right?

It's a, it's much of what goes on in terms of just debate in general that goes on in society now, where it's just like, really, we're getting upset about this. And then nobody wants to take anything else, but take the, uh, the rest of the stuff really seriously, if that makes sense. It does. And, and you brought up a, a, a several good points.

I mean, one good point is that for most cops, and I mean that 99 percentile, like you, you mentioned the closest thing they're ever going to get to corruption is, Oh, 25 cent coffee at Francis and wall. That sounds cool. [00:14:00] You know, and they're not going to, uh, uh, amend how they do their job. They're not going to extend particular, uh, or favored treatment.

Uh, it's, it's, it's a big nothing. Yeah. And that's what it was for me. I wasn't going to, you know, if I went to that, the owner of Francis walls house on a domestic, he wasn't going to not go to jail for hitting his wife because I got 25 cent coffee. You might make a stink about it afterwards, but he's not getting out of getting arrested.

Right? And that's kind of what it is for, for, like I said, the vast majority of officers, but it does become kind of tricky. You talk about that half off burger thing is the other point you brought up that that I think is kind of funny is. Somebody always has to ruin it for everybody. Right? Um, and, and they're everywhere I went.

It didn't matter where I went, whether it was up in the Northeast, Southwest, up in Canada, Canada, East Coast, Canada, out West and in the prairies. It was always the same. If something like this existed, you know, if a, if a dinner place [00:15:00] said, we're going to adopt a cop. And when that cops on shift, he gets half off his meals because maybe we don't pay our cops a lot around here, or it's an appreciation thing or whatever.

And everybody seems okay with it. Eventually, some cop is going to decide on his day off. He's going to take his whole extended family there and expect the discount and make a fuss when he doesn't get, you know, he's going to come through the pizza place that gives half off an order. 25 pies. You know, I mean, they just, there's always an idiot that screws it up for everybody and calls attention to it in a negative way.

Um, but maybe it needs to have attention, right? Because it can be a slippery slope. Like you mentioned. You said that Spokane was overall a good department. How do you define a good department? And then maybe, how do you define a bad department? Yeah, that's a tough one, because defining what's a good department, what's a bad department.

First off, I think is it's not an objective of an objective thing. It doesn't exist in a vacuum. The [00:16:00] culture of the place where that department exists, um, and the system it resides within plays a part. Um, you know, I think you're going to bring up At some point in the conversation, the idea of a corruption spectrum, a spectrum of corruption and, you know, where that, you know, how that spectrum looks and what's on the light end and the dark end of that spectrum is impacted by where, where you live.

I mean, I had a buddy of mine who. Was, uh, served as the IA sergeant for a little while, and he went to school and he's sitting there in the IA school. I don't remember where it was and they're talking about things that happened within a department and how to approach them. And he's just kind of flabbergasted by how terrible some of the stories that they're being presented are and.

And he kind of got up to a couple of guys from Boston. I think it was actually, um, if you're from Boston and I'm, and this sounds bad, don't hate me. Cause I could be wrong, but he asked these guys from Boston. Is that, is that real? You know, because like, [00:17:00] you know, we, we in Spokane, we take anonymous demeanor complaints.

That means Chris, you can get on the phone and call my police department and say, Frank's Glees was a jerk to me. At this time and place, well, what's your name? And you can hang up and they'll still investigate that. Right? And so my, my, my friend, Dave, that, you know, that was the policy, right? Investigate everything.

And so my friend, Dave tells this to the Boston cops, and they just look at them and, and they'd been in for a little while at that point, of course, was required, but they didn't have to take it right away. Anyway, he guy says to him, uh, We don't even bother with if it's not a felony now, 1 caveat, my buddy Dave is a storyteller.

So whether they said felony or not, they might have said crime. They could have, it could, he could have been exaggerating a little bit. He's prone to doing that, but that's still a long ways from an anonymous demeanor complaint. And so I was, I mean, this was shocking to him. It was shocking to me. And so, uh, but [00:18:00] culture has to do with that, right?

The guys told him if you're not, if you're not making 50%, 70 percent more. Right. In street money, then you're not working and Dave was like, what's street money, you know, so, so there's a difference. Right. Um, but I would say a good department is a department that provides necessary law enforcement service.

To to the constituency to the people and has the trust of the people that they serve and, and, you know, it's, it's easy to say it's kind of hard to define, but I mean, that that is 1 definition of a good place to. I think you can see, though, that that different idea of trend. It's almost a transparency.

Yeah, it can be a little Nick nitpicky. Bill working the south side today was a little bit of a jerk, but you could honestly see that maybe there was a pattern that Bill was being a jerk every day. That's something that if you cared, you could take corrective measures were in that other department, uh, not to pick on Boston, but let's say Boston and you have Bill in [00:19:00] Boston and he's just allowed to be a jerk all the time.

And then that does corrode the trust. Yeah, I have a theory that has absolutely zero academic support. I haven't checked it out. It's good. I could be totally blowing smoke here. Um, and, and you gentlemen feel free to poke holes in it. Um, but I think that in, in your Eastern U. S. police departments that were founded.

Centuries ago, when policing was a very different animal and when the expectations on the police and who ran the police and what their purpose was, was very different. I think that they are because those things become part of the culture, even if the original behaviors go away, the, the, it's still part of the culture as it changes.

I think they're more susceptible to, to that kind of, uh, of, Of corruption, particularly if there's an organized crime element that's prevalent, [00:20:00] that's, that's very, you know, very much a part of the fabric of the culture as well. Whereas, you know, I mean, Spokane was founded in 1884. I have to go check and see when the police department was founded, but obviously sometime after that.

Um, and, and so what a police department supposed to do, while it's very different than what it is today, it was also very different than what it was in 1780 in New York. Yeah. You know, or, or Boston, since we're picking on Boston, because, you know, they think they have to win every championship that's out there.

So screw them. Um, you know, I mean, it's just it's and so culture matters and where we come from and how we develop through the years matters. And, and I'm not saying better or worse East versus West. I'm just saying that, that they develop different and, and maybe Chris, you could touch on it too. That, you know, things in Canada is a different culture.

It's similar to the US, but there are some. Yeah. Pronounce differences as well. And so maybe, you know, the way that Canadian law enforcement developed was different than the way it developed into us. [00:21:00] Well, I know we were speaking for, like, Quebec, because we, we talked a lot about, um, I haven't released the episode yet, but we've talked a lot about, like, Vito Rizzuto and the Rizzuto crime family in Quebec.

And there's a long history of corruption that went. On in Quebec, like, to the point where, with the Hells Angels, like, there were members of the Quebec government, like, asking the, the federal government, like, can you, like, do something about this? And at that time, I don't know what the laws are right now, but the federal government really didn't really want to get involved.

It's like, this is a provincial matter. You guys kind of have to figure this out. But, like, Quebec, And I don't know, people will probably get angry at me, but there's like a long, long history of like deep corruption and the Quebec police force and the Quebec law system. I mean, um, you know, it goes back to like, like, the Controni and like before that.

And I mean, kind of, I guess it's similar to how the Italians, uh, saw like law enforcement in the government period. [00:22:00] Like they brought that kind of mentality from Sicily and they brought it over. Okay. Into the United States and even the Irish to write, uh, with, you know, whenever the English showed up, nothing good happens.

And they kind of associated like the angle, upper crust and the United States with the English really. Um, and with Quebec and, you know, they were kind of isolated. They spoke a different language, different religion. So there was just like, kind of an innate. I think there was like, like an innate distrust of government period.

This is my opinion. And I don't know anything about Quebec, to be honest with you. So I wouldn't want to comment on that. But the, the dynamics that you describe are not unique to that area. If that's what's going on, it's, it's a definitely, you know, everything exists within a system, right? And you know, I had a friend, a very close friend who took on a training.

Role is the chief trainer, essentially for an Eastern agency that that I won't name, I guess, because mostly because I [00:23:00] taught there a couple of different times. So I spent like 6 weeks there at various times and there's a lot of good cops there, but but they, they live and work in a department that has some corruption issues.

And they exist within a municipality that is corrupt. I mean, their, the previous mayor went to prison for corruption. Um, you know, the current mayor, uh, mayor at the time that my friend was working there, um, wasn't any better. Um, they brought in a, a, a, a reformer chief, a colleague of mine that I also, that also taught within this program, great guy out of, out of, uh, the, uh.

What do you call it? Like Michigan, Wisconsin, that area. It's not the Midwest is upper Midwest, maybe upper Midwest. Right. So, you know, that's his background in terms of geography. He goes in and tries to reform and he was up against the culture, not just the police department culture, which is formidable enough when you're talking 800 people, a thousand [00:24:00] people that can have their own culture, but the city culture and the regional culture, all of which reinforced many of these behaviors.

I don't know that there was a big organized crime, uh, presence there. Um, I, there was on the other side of the state and another, another agency that's pretty well known for its corruption. Uh, so maybe there was, but even without that, it was difficult. It was impossible. He ended up leaving without not having accomplished his mission.

It did not change. Um, so culture is huge cultures like gravity, you know, it's, it's inexorable and, and it's extremely hard to change. And if you're trying as a police chief. Um, to change a department that has some corruption issues and some members who may be corrupt and you have a culture you're battling that with inside the department and you're having to fight an external culture that reinforces all of that and won't allow you to make the changes that you want to make, um, because they're ineffective because they don't work in a corrupt environment.

You [00:25:00] know, what do you do? I mean, you're, you're, it becomes a real, real problem, uh, and a difficult one to solve if it is solved. Yeah. That aspect of culture is another thing that I never really thought about in working in schools. I, we've talked about this before that schools and police departments have so many crossovers, but culture, you can have the top down, but it's really hard to penetrate into the bottom.

If there's a lot of veterans who have been around for a long time and they're They've been there 15, 20 years and they're the ones who are, in a lot of ways, they're the more ground level of mentorship of the new people coming in. Yeah, the, the chief or the superintendent or the principal can come in and say, Hey guys, we're doing it this way.

But it's really hard when the 15 year veterans saying we, this is how things are done around here. Yeah. And, and in any agency, police or education [00:26:00] or, or any, anything like that, it, you're talking about like your sergeants, basically you and your veteran teachers and these folks, they're doing what they're doing the way they're doing it because it's working, even if it's broken, it's working in some fashion.

And if you're going to come in and try to change that, what you're, Yeah. Trying to change it to better work as well, or show promise of working. Otherwise, they're not going to change. And, you know, there's an old saying that that I encountered pretty early in my career that I found out pretty much every cop gets told this at some point in their career, and it's always when they're a rookie or young cop, and it's always by an old salt.

I mean, it's, it's almost a cliche at this point, but it goes like this, uh, The brass comes down, they come to roll call, lieutenant comes to roll call, captain comes to roll call, whatever, Hey, this is the new program. This is what we're doing now. And they give you the buzzword. You know, I can't tell you how many buzzwords I heard in a 20 year career.

I mean, I know you have to in education, you know, [00:27:00] no child left behind, you know, uh, you know, we're doing, you know, whatever student led teaching, whatever. It's the same thing. We're community oriented policing, neighborhood oriented policing, you know, uh, Uh, intelligence led policing, all of these different buzzwords and some of them, and they weren't just buzzwords.

Some of them were fantastic ideas that if implemented or when implemented are effective, but one of the mistakes leadership often makes is they change course so often that nobody really gets a chance to get grounded with the direction that we were going. And then people. Are like, Hey, we're just going to change course in six months.

Why am I going to engage? And that's what the old assault tells the young rookie when they come into roll call spouting about this new buzzword. And, and the rookie's like, well, how am I supposed to do this? And how am I supposed to do that? And the old guy just told me, just put your head down, take your calls, do your job in six months.

They'll be back with some other shiny toy to talk about. And, and so that's the cynical. And not entirely incorrect at times viewpoint that can exist at the ground level at [00:28:00] the, you know, the mid level for your, your veterans and your mentors. And so you have to overcome that and people talk about, like, uh, with both your professions, you guys are like, have to deal with unions and stuff like that.

So you can't even. Even if you catch a dirty cop, it's like a huge process to even get rid of them. Like the union's in place to make sure he doesn't get fired. And I, I don't know, I think people have this like false impression of just how you can change like a big organization, say, I don't know, we'll just use the Boston police force or the New York police force.

Like it takes. A long, long time to do it and it takes a long time and it takes a lot of people to actually be committed to wanting to make that change. And like you brought up, like, you know, we're talking about guys have been on the force for like 20 years. Sometimes like you're trying to get them to change their ways and.

It's, it's a huge process to be able to deal with a lot of these problems. Like, I know everyone thinks that you can just fix a problem with these large bureaucracies, like, oh, you can just do it [00:29:00] overnight. I mean, like, you can to a degree, like, you can just blow it all up and then just start from scratch.

But you can't, but you can't, can you? Yeah, exactly. That's why you can't you can't just fire all the cops and have them reapply for their job. And what contract with another police department to for your police services while that's happening. I don't that I guess you could try it. It'd be it'd be a mess.

You're going to fire all the teachers and bring in subs while you reinterview them. I guess you could, but what's the impact going to be? On the people you're trying to give service delivery to to those kids in the classroom or those citizens on the street. I think you make a great point there, Chris.

It's not a speedboat. It's an aircraft carrier. You know, it doesn't turn around as quickly as as people want it to and and so people get a little bit. Maybe inpatient leadership changes and changes the course. And so they shift course again. So now it feels like you haven't made any progress or, or even leadership just changes their minds because it's not happening [00:30:00] fast enough, or they get pressure.

I mean, all kinds of things can happen. So culture is a huge thing. Culture is a huge thing. And, and how corruption is viewed, what, what constitutes corruption, how corruption is dealt with, um, All of these things I think are heavily influenced by culture. I mean, if a cop murders somebody, I mean, that's going to be the same everywhere.

You know, if a cop is kicking in doors with his buddies and, and, and robbing drug dealers or dealing drugs, I mean, that's going to be dealt the same. Across the boards. There's no agency out there is going to say, well, you know, that's, you know, they, they, they, they, they put in a card and took some time off before they went and did that.

So, I mean, you're not going to get that. But on the other end of the spectrum, the 0. 25 coffee and up, you get different responses and what, what corruption is. From personally, like, I work in like a non union environment, right? Like, I work at a scrapyard and just even there with relatively, I don't know, it's not large staff, but like, it's, [00:31:00] it's not small either.

And it just to change something, even something, even personally, like, I've had a couple of freak outs where I'm just like, Why do we insist on doing something stupid? Do you know what I mean? But it's just, it's just, it's just the nature of how, like we pointed out, like how just bureaucracy works, like it's just this, it's this slow moving behemoth that takes forever to make a right turn.

That's the nature of bureaucracy, right? It's intended to work that way. The purpose of bureaucracy is to confer stability. And, and yet there, and therefore, because it's so stable, it's difficult and time consuming to make changes. So I think, I think you nailed it. Now you laid out, uh, at least 1 part of this conversation of, okay, the 25 cent coffee is a way to show appreciation.

I appreciate you. And here's a new Tesla. That's there's a spectrum of corruption there, but there was something else that you had talked about [00:32:00] when we were planning. This out is corruption that starts from the best of intentions kind of. Good, good intentions that lead to corruption. And I'd love for them to hear a little bit more about that, really a lot of it more, to be honest.

Yeah. The term that I hear that's been used most commonly in the profession is noble cause corruption. And, um, I, I, I don't know who coined the phrase. I know that somebody wrote a book about it that was on every promotional exam I ever took. And the first couple of times I. I read it just so that I could answer the questions and I, I, I, I even thought it was BS.

I didn't think it was, it was legit. But the idea of noble cause corruption is that you take a good person in a, in a role of responsibility. In this case, a police officer. And imagine you go and you arrest a child molesting murderer. And guilt is, [00:33:00] I mean, you catch him in the act. I mean, whatever. Guilt is not in question in this scenario.

Um, but you, you make a small clerical mistake that would become a procedural error that actually could put things into jeopardy. Maybe you, Asked him a couple of questions. He made a guilt, a guilty statement. And then you remembered you hadn't read him as Moran writes yet. This is actually a pretty big violation, but it works for our example.

So then you read him the rights, you read the guy's rights and, and go from there. And, and he doesn't make that same confession again. That confession is going to ultimately be inadmissible and maybe it's enough to keep them from getting convicted. And so you decide, you know, I read him his rights. He's guilty as hell.

He admitted it. It's a procedural harmless error on my part that's going to have this major issue come of it. I'm just going to write in my report that I read him his rights and then I started asking him questions. It's just a [00:34:00] small little white lie. And in doing that, I am going to ensure that this Pedophile murderer doesn't get acquitted on a procedural error that I made that is essentially harmless.

So are you going to find anybody in the world except a lawyer that's going to argue that you did something wrong there? I mean, most cops are going to, would consider that at least. Um, if they were faced with that situation, that's still corruption, right? Isn't it? It's a lie. It's not your job to make sure somebody gets convicted.

It's your job to enforce the law and to write reports truthfully and to administer the procedures. But if you do it incorrectly to document that you made that mistake and let the courts figure out how to deal. That's technically your role. So it's a form of corruption, but it's a, it was done for noble purposes and.

This can be the start and you know, could be something that occurs once and never again. You could have cops that never do anything like that. You could have cops that that's the they do one small thing like that in [00:35:00] their entire 25 year career and that's it. But from a. Psychological standpoint from a behavioral standpoint, it can lead to well, this time I, you know, he didn't exactly say he did it, but he kind of gave me a, he raised his eyebrows like at me, but he didn't say yes, but he meant yes.

And he was being a smart ass, but I'm going to put yes, because I know we did it. And then you're planting evidence at this point on a guilt. You know, I mean, I'm trying to remember what movie it is where the guy says, uh, Oh, uh, LA Confidential. When the, um, the Irish captain asks, um, the Guy Pearce character, Bagley, Bagley, Ed, whatever his last name is, asks, asks him, you know, would you plant evidence on a suspect you know to be guilty?

And Ed says no, and he's like, this job's not for me. Well, you know, planting evidence on somebody, you know, to be guilty, that infers again, a noble purpose, but you're doing something wrong, very wrong. It [00:36:00] can round a bend at some point. I mean, most people argue that's already around the bend, but your purpose is still, I'm trying to make the world a better place.

I'm trying to put bad guys that I know are bad guys in jail. No question. It can round the bend into, uh, self. Aggrandizement self, uh, bettering your own circumstances on, you know, keeping money, stealing money, starting money and things of this nature. And that's where the slippery slope idea comes in. Um, there's fascinating, uh, case study in Chicago, um, back 2000s.

I think it happened 2008. Maybe I could be wrong early 2000s. It's a Chicago S. O. S. group. Um. Yeah. In which a guy, you know, he, he was a idealistic cop and he started doing exactly the kind of things I'm talking about. And in this scenario, there was a mentor. There was a guy he looked up to even before he came on the department that kind of showed him the way and let him down the garden path.

And what started [00:37:00] as a guy's running from me and he ditches the gun and when I catch him, I decide the gun I picked up in the bush that he threw there never left his hand because I want to make this an airtight case. And this guy, you know, you know, killed 3 people and he's a drug dealer and, you know, piece of garbage.

He went from that kind of behavior, which is bad enough, most people would argue, to they're kicking in doors and stealing 30, 000 from, from the safe of drug dealers. And then after they got caught putting out hits on some of the other cops in their group, I mean, it's a terrible story. It's a horrible story.

And if you're a police officer, you listen to it in horror because it's such a. You know, 0. 0001 percent sort of thing, but it happened rampart happened. You know, it does happen. Um, but it doesn't start with, uh, you know, what, what do they do in New York where they, I think they, you know, they sodomize somebody with a flashlight or screwdriver or something.

That's a big story around the same time. And I mean. That's not day 1 [00:38:00] of, of, of noble cause corruption, you know, day 1 is a free pizza or whatever, you know, and, and so the idea is that that's why that 25 cent coffee is something you have to take a look at. That's why. Uh, no, no zero tolerance rule or a very tight grip on what you expect from your officers and what is allowed in terms of, of appreciation and so forth is so important because it's almost like a disease.

You can't get a little bit pregnant. You just, you get pregnant and it grows. That's kind of the idea. So I know that was a long and rambling explanation, but there's a lot of. Academia out there about noble cause corruption. If people are interested, there's, like I said, there's textbooks and plenty of papers on the topic.

It's pretty well known. And then you can check it out.

Steve here again with a quick word from our sponsors. I got understand like, I [00:39:00] totally get this slipper. So I mean, Steve have gone back and forth about this a couple of times. It's like cop walks into a house and it's some guy that's, I don't know, pimping out his daughter and You know, there's drugs all over the place and, you know, he decides, you know, I'm just going to change the report a little bit different to get this guy off the street.

There's a part of me that's just like, you know what, just go ahead and do it, man. You know, like this guy deserves to be behind bars. It's like this, this person's scum of the earth. It's not like this person's going to turn around and all of a sudden change his life. How often does that happen? Let's be honest here.

And then, but then. It becomes a silver so play you pointed out like it starts off with something like that. And it's like, oh, I got away with it the 1st time. And then, you know, like, you plan a good result came of it, right? That's how you're seeing it. Well, yeah, you know, like, you got a scumbag off the streets, like, not like, not like, just like a guy who stole a good.

You know, some candy bars at a store. We're talking like the worst of the worst people [00:40:00] that I think for the vast majority of the human population really has a difficult time, maybe even comprehending some of the people that police officers have to deal with, like, have seen and have had to deal with.

Like, you just you see the. Absolute utter worst of humanity and, you know, maybe you change the report just a little bit or, you know, you change something just once just to be able to get this one disgusting scumbag off the streets and maybe save that little girl's life. Or give her a fighting chance, right?

You know, yeah, give her a fighting chance. I think the whole idea of you sleepwalking into that level of corruption, that it just starts off as just that tiniest thing. I'm going to put this guy away, uh, because I, I know they're, they're dead to rights. They've done that. And then it just. It can start getting a little bit grayer, a little bit grayer, a little bit grayer, and then it just makes it so much easier to get into the really bad corruption of, I don't make that much [00:41:00] money as a cop and I gotta, you know, put my kids through college and it's not fair.

So, and they have all this money from drugs. So, you know, if a couple of packets fall into my Bag on the way out, then, you know, that's not a big deal. Once you start making those little bad decisions, it just key. It's like an escalator. You just can't get off of it. Yeah. And so two quick points there. One, I want to be really clear.

The overwhelming majority of police officers that I have come in contact with don't do this kind of stuff. Not even close. They're very conscientious that is preached from the academy onward. And a lot of people, even though they might look at a book like noble cause corruption and had the same reaction I did when I first came across it and be like, I don't need to read that.

I'm not, I'm not dirty. I don't take. I'm not on the dole or whatever they still intuitively understand the concept. They understand I have to be true and remain true to do this job. And so they just do if they ever do anything [00:42:00] like that. It's extremely minor and probably a once in a career event. That probably no one would have a problem with, but it's still wrong, right?

So that's one point. I just, I want to be really clear on, I don't want to sit here and sound like, you know, uh, I'm saying that, uh, that the cops do this willy nilly because it's not even close to the truth. Um, but to your point, Steve, you know, it's, it's not that it is a slippery slope, but it's not that far to jump from.

I know for an absolute fact, because it happened in front of me, this guy did it to Chris saw him do it. And I trust Chris to. Objectively speaking, the facts point to the fact that he probably almost certainly did it too. I'm pretty sure he did it too. He might have done it and he's probably done some other stuff too.

And if you're doing the same action to make sure that person goes to jail, you know, over a period of time, it can, you know, it can morph to that, the, the lower the threshold is going to lower, I guess, if you start to make that a practice. Um, and so that's why, you know, yeah. Better, better to not [00:43:00] start in the first point, you know, and void it entirely.

And I think you make a good point that it's. Most cops, the vast, vast majority and want to do the best, they punch in the clock every day to do their best and, but they're trained from the beginning to check these things that you do things by the, the book. And is that as a leader, was that something when you moved from the, from the patrol side and from the, uh, I guess the, the ground level, and as you started to move up into leadership, Were those some of the things that you were looking for and putting in systems and thinking about systems of how, you know, the best cop on your department, making sure that he stayed on the course?

Um, I'll answer that. I did want to give you a quick analogy. I think that brings that last portion of our conversation really into a tighter focus. Um, I think for the individual officer, the issue of potentially falling prey to a [00:44:00] form of corruption, however slight without really being aware of it. You said sleepwalking into it.

I think that that's a good way to put it. But I think it's a combination of kind of a forest and trees problem. When you're a police officer, you're focused on the trees. In fact, maybe just this 1 tree in this particular moment and much like a lumberjack, it's a good thing because that tree might kill you.

So pay attention to that trade. Um, but it does mean you don't necessarily see the forest and so the things that you're doing, you could sleepwalk a little if you weren't paying attention. And then also, as I think I kind of mentioned before, as it becomes that frog and boiling water problem to, you know, you can get progressively lower that threshold to your leadership question.

I was fortunate. I think. In that I didn't have to develop these systems. They were already in place. Um, you know, we had a chief who was chief when I came on who, who took this very seriously and his successors did as well. And so, you know, I mean, I was. Still in a department where the 25 cent [00:45:00] cup of coffee was something that we took a look at.

So the systems were in place. Um, the concerns were always there. And, you know, you're never going to completely be able to stop individual bad actors. It doesn't matter how much you screen people and believe me, if I told you, we can spend 20 minutes about the, on the screening process to become a police officer, at least in most of the agencies I'm familiar with.

And I think you'd be surprised. How difficult it is, uh, to get past that screening process. But even so, you're still going to have bad actors that get past and they do it. And there's always, uh, you know, uh, people do things. There are people doing things that are bad across every walk of life. And policing is no different.

The big difference is the impact. You know, teaching is similar in this regard. If you have a teacher who does something that's scandalous. It has an outsized impact. I mean, you know, Chris, if you're working, if somebody in the scrapyard does something in their job, that's not great, it's going to [00:46:00] have an impact, but it might not have a city wide impact or a state or province wide impact, but in teaching or policing, I think, you know, it's because of the responsibility that's given to the people.

And the authority to exercise and deal with that responsibility when bad things happen, they are outsized and how much attention is given to them. And I think rightfully so I'm not decrying that that scenario, but I was fortunate. We already had things in place. And so all I had to do is unfortunately deal with the individuals who.

Who failed and address that I didn't have systemic issues to do. Yeah, you brought up the, uh, like the spotlight the police have on them and it's. It's perfectly like, it's 100 percent true, right? Like, it's easy for. The spotlight go like, to go on, like, the corrupt police officers or what have you, because I don't mean, let's be honest.

I don't know what everybody else's opinion is. Like, nobody likes being pulled over by the police, right? Like, there's almost like an inherent, like, I don't like these type of guys. Like, straight off the bat, when you talk to the [00:47:00] vast majority of people, right? So when there's any type of corruption, there's a huge, like, magnifying glass on it, right?

Like, where, um, just people love to talk about it and people like to focus on it. And rightfully so, right? Because police officers, as you pointed out, have an opportunity to do some really, really, really, really, really bad things if there's not there's not enough oversight. But I think it's just 1 of those.

Right. Professions were when somebody screws up, everyone loves the dog pile on it. And I cannot understand, like, the police officers, like, getting really defensive when, uh, situations like that happen, where, as you pointed out, like, the 99 percent of the police officers that you met in your, uh, tenure for working, you know, through, uh, uh, various police forces.

They're 100 percent like, legit, they're squeaky clean, right? And, you know, one, a few bad apples, uh, make everybody else look bad. But then, it's the entire media apparatus. It's Twitter, it's [00:48:00] social media, it's everything. Everyone's jumping on it. It's because of the nature of how policing has changed. You don't really have police officers.

I don't know how it works in Spokane. Or, you know, where I grew up in Toronto, there's no police officers walking the beat. You know, I couldn't, I didn't know any police officers by their first name or, or anything like that, whether they had family or, you know, like, uh, back in the day, police officers used to like, kind of walk the, the beat in the neighborhoods and people used to kind of know, like there was a fixture in the neighborhood.

Um, so almost every interaction you end up having with police officers nowadays, uh, is typically negative. I mean, uh, uh, I mean, just real quickly, I'll say people don't like the cops, but they sure do like us when somebody's breaking down their door. You like us then , how do you like me now? Right? I've taken that guy to jail.

Um, but, uh, uh, but you're right. Um, and, and, and lately of course, there's been even more negative press in the last few years. It's gotten, uh, [00:49:00] amplified. Um, as the world gets smaller, every bad act that happens anywhere gets broadcast to the, to the entire. You know, country or entire, uh, continent. And so it feels like it's happening more often when in reality, I just think it's being reported more widely to more people because that's the nature of the world that we live.

But you're right. Um, you know, I, another one of my pet theories and I don't think it's that crazy is that when we took the officer off the beat and put them in a car, we, we, we lost something. Now we gained something too. We gained, you know, you know, strategic ability to deploy rapidly to crimes in progress.

And that's a big thing. And that was a great development. And, and, and there are advantages to that, that I don't think we can go back from that. We would not want to go back, but we did lose something. Um, and, you know, ideas like neighborhood oriented policing, community oriented policing, these programs.

You know, are, are geared towards trying to [00:50:00] put that back into, uh, some form of that back into play so that, uh, the relationships between communities and their police departments are more organic and more pronounced and more person to person rather than entity to entity. But ironically, when you had that.

Cop walking the beat. It was during a time when cops didn't make a whole lot. So that's why people, you know, took terms given the cop free meal while he was on duty. Right? Because they knew he probably couldn't afford lunch. So this, you know, he's come to my diner today. He's coming to yours tomorrow.

He'll eat with Steve on Wednesday. And, you know, it's not a big deal. We're taking care of our neighborhood cop. And just like the noble cause corruption kind of slide that we talked about, you know, that. Yeah. That becomes an entitlement rather than an assistance, and that entitlement then becomes a demand and then it escalates.

And now we've got situations in the 70s. and so, [00:51:00] um, no, no system is perfect, but I think you're onto something. Chris. I think I think that, uh. Effective policing really does start with community engagement and, and of course you have to have a ready reaction group as well for crisis sorts of events, but that's become our focus.

And in some instances, if you're understaffed to a particular degree, that might be all you can do is respond to those sort of events. And that's an unhealthy department when you get to that point, because you're not engaging the community. You can't, um, and. Thank you. If you're disassociated from the community, that's another opportunity I think, for corruption to work its way in one fashion.

You've been listening to Organized Crime and Punishment, a History 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 [00:52:00] 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 yous next time on Organized Crime and Punishment. Forget about it.

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