Another excellent piece from journalist Radley Balko at Reason.com– American’s Most Successful Stop Snitchin’ Campaign. This piece elaborates on the subject of Eric Miller’s last post, chronicling the retaliation and punishment openly inflicted on police officers who have broken the code of silence and reported official wrongdoing in cities such as Kansas City, New York, and Albuquerque. From the article:
In his book Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing, former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper explains the implicit threats that make the Blue Wall so successful:
“You have to rely on your fellow officers to back you. A cop with a reputation as a snitch is one vulnerable police officer, likely to find his peers slow to respond to requests for backup-if they show up at all. A snitch is subject to social snubbing. Or malicious mischief, or sabotage…The peer pressure is childish and churlish, but it’s real. Few cops can stand up to it.”
Which makes it all the more important that police administrators and political leaders support and protect the cops who do. The most disturbing aspect of these stories is not that there are bad cops in Kansas City, New York, and Albuquerque. It’s not even that other cops covered for them, or that police unions have institutionalized the protection of bad cops. The most disturbing part of these cases is that the cover-up and retaliation extend all the way to the top of the chain of command–and that so far there has been no action, or even condemnation, from the elected officials who are supposed to hold police leaders accountable.