Noble-Cause Corruption in Florida

1183 words | 4 page(s)

Instances of Noble-Cause corruption raise many ethical and philosophical dilemmas which typically discussed in terms of whether ‘the ends justified the means’. As a working definition, noble-cause corruption can be described as cases where police corruption is used to gain a common good, justifying some noble sense of justice rather than corruption for personal benefit. Indeed, Professor Martinelli has described this phenomenon as “corruption committed in the name of good ends, corruption that happens when police officers care too much about their work. It is corruption committed in order to get the bad guys off the streets” (Martinelli). The following paper will examine two cases of noble-cause corruption that occurred in Florida in order to reflect on the ethical questions that are raised in such cases. The first instance of noble-cause corruption comes from a reported story on a number of Boynton Beach police officers arrested in 2011 in what was described as being noble-cause corruption cases. The second incident of noble-cause corruption that this paper focuses on is how legislation can often be the precursor to infringement and the idea of the noble cause, specifically in reference to the guidance given by Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for spotting potential drug users (Crank, 2010).

In 2011 there was a spat of arrests of police officers from the Boynton Beach Police department for alleged corruption. It was reported in the Sun Sentinel and involved the allegations of corruption against a police officer (Officer Alex Lindsey), who was charged with official misconduct. The specific circumstances occurred after the arrest of Jeffrey Pugh made by Lindsey who after reporting he found the firearm at the crime scene, later admitted he lied and had discovered it while at the police station with the suspect. This can be seen as a classic case of noble cause syndrome insofar as Lindsey’s breach of duty can be seen as upholding the common good (Burdi et al). Despite the location of the discovery of the firearm being lied about, it still belonged to the suspect Jeffrey Pugh, who also had previous cocaine convictions and was found with a selection of illicit drugs. Thus, under the circumstances the actual ‘facts’ concerning the criminal liability of the suspect remained the same regardless of the Lindsey’s transgression. This raises the question of whether the ends in this case, if Lindsey had ‘got away with it’ justify the means. The argument that is usually used is that the situation would not be any different whether or not the police over stepped their authority. However, by turning a blind eye and exceeding the mandate that is given by citizen to law enforcement officers calls the whole system into disrepute. Corruption in the police force not only creates a level of mistrust and separation from the community they serve, but risks undermining the premise behind why they wield the power they wield.

puzzles puzzles
Your 20% discount here.

Use your promo and get a custom paper on
"Noble-Cause Corruption in Florida".

Order Now
Promocode: custom20

Furthermore the case of Officer Lindsey had followed two other instances of police misconduct for a noble-cause perpetrated by Michael Mulcahy and Michael Arco. Indeed, instances of noble-cause corruption still represent a large problem for police forces both nationally and internationally. As is mentioned in the article, a classic example of noble-cause corruption may be when: “Police might falsify reports or information when arresting someone because they want to make sure a criminal stays behind bars, said Jeanne Stinchcomb, a Florida Atlantic University criminology professor.” (Burdi et al).

The second noble-cause case in Florida that this paper focuses on is how certain mandates can lead to warping police ethics, specifically the guidelines Crank refers to in his book on police ethics and the noble cause (Crank). The example used by Crank is the guidelines set out by “the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for identifying motorists carrying drugs [which] included motorists who were member of ethnic groups tied to drug trafficking” (Crank, 2010, 215). The point Crank makes in citing this example is the fact that a policy such as this that actively encourages racial stereotyping in relation to the idea of the noble-cause is that even if such a technique worked (and this is by no means saying it does) then although police officers are working for a noble cause, getting criminals off the street, they are “letting race in the backdoor” (Crank, 2010, 220). Indeed, even if a certain situation is ‘more efficient’, it does not mean it is the right thing to do; principles of justice need to override the benefits from bending the law for a noble-cause. What this example shows quite well is that in society catching criminals, getting convictions and the ‘bad men off the street’ is not the only ideal that society is concerned with. Principles of freedom, a free trail, and equity in the law are arguably more important for the stability of the country and the judicial system as a whole.

This situation raises the question that if you accept some forms of noble-cause cases are permitted, on an ethical level at least, then the natural question is who decides what is noble or not. If the police can determine when it is permitted to break the law, any potential convict could also argue that they committed a crime for a noble cause. At the end of the day law enforcement officers are the first point of contact for the criminal judicial system as a whole. The evidence they collect and the procedures they carry out are necessary for the entire judicial system to function smoothly. Any disruption to this system will only hamper police officers efforts and the general respect for the law in the future.

In conclusion, it seems clear that noble cause corruption will remain to be a difficult problem to argue and justify. As this paper has implicitly suggested throughout, it seems impossible to find a perfect line between small infringements of procedure (such as forgetting to sign a document or other administrative problems) with planting evidence on an all be it known criminal. There will be a difficult line to ethical judge the merits of any police officer who extends their mandate beyond the limit that is allowed. However, by allowing any infringements no matter how great the need or injustice will be, always works to undermine the core values held by law enforcement officers. The rules surrounding the practices of law enforcement officers must always operate within the legal parameters that they are given. Any infringement of the rules, any illicit extension of the powers conferred to law enforcement officers will always be seen as a greater infringement then the perpetrator who may avoid conviction on a technicality. When police officers act criminally, albeit for good means, they will always be transgressing the fundamental principles they stand up for.

  • Burdi J., Rousta, W. and Campbell, A. “A third Boynton Beach police officer arrested this week” Sun Sentinel. http://articles.sun-sentinel.com
  • Martinelli. TJ. ‘Unconstitutional Policing: The Ethical Challenges in Dealing with Noble Cause Corruption’ Police Chef Magazine. http://www.policechiefmagazine. org
  • Crank, J. P., & Caldero, M. A. (2010). Police Ethics (Revised Printing): The Corruption of Noble Cause. Elsevier.

puzzles puzzles
Attract Only the Top Grades

Have a team of vetted experts take you to the top, with professionally written papers in every area of study.

Order Now