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Curtailing The Code of Silence among The South African Police Sanja Kutnjak Ivković, Ph.D., S.J.D. Michigan State University Adri Sauerman, M.S. DHC Consult.

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Presentation on theme: "Curtailing The Code of Silence among The South African Police Sanja Kutnjak Ivković, Ph.D., S.J.D. Michigan State University Adri Sauerman, M.S. DHC Consult."— Presentation transcript:

1 Curtailing The Code of Silence among The South African Police Sanja Kutnjak Ivković, Ph.D., S.J.D. Michigan State University Adri Sauerman, M.S. DHC Consult

2 Talk Overview ■South Africa’s Police, Corruption, and Control ■The Code of Silence ■The Code and Fairness ■Methodology   Questionnaire   Respondents ■Results   Contours of the Code of Silence   The Code and Perceptions of Disciplinary Fairness ■Conclusion monstersandcritics.com

3 South Africa’s Police, Corruption, and Control ■ ■ 16 years of police democratization:   SAPS publically perceived as 2 nd most corrupt public service department (2003 & 2007)   media reports: the SAPS is fast becoming an “organisation of criminals” (News24, 2008)   historians consider corruption one of the blotches on the South African image, upstaged only by the escalating crime wave   researchers: “When it comes to tackling police corruption and building integrity, the SAPS has yet to develop a coherent strategy” (Newham, 2004) ■ ■ Possible reasons:   amalgamation of different police agencies   Sunset clause -14% had criminal records ( )

4 South Africa’s Police, Corruption, and Control Cont. ■ ■ Responses:   Establishment of the Anti-Corruption Unit (1996)   By 2001, ACU: - investigated 20,779 allegations of police corruption - arrested 3,045 SAPS members - led to 576 convictions   In 2001/2002: - investigation of 2,370 cases of corruption - resulted in 1,332 criminal prosecutions departmental disciplinary hearings   In 2002, inexplicably closed down dailymail.co.uk

5 South Africa’s Police, Corruption, and Control Cont. ■ ■ Responses:   Post ACU: /2004: 347 suspensions /2008: 192 suspensions   Financial impact: /2009 budget: civil claims = 20%   : - Police commissioner charged & found guilty of corruption - National Prosecuting Authority’s investigative unit disbanded mg.co.za

6 The Code of Silence ■ ■ Code of silence: Informal prohibition; part of the occupational culture of policing   existence of the code documented in American policing (e.g., Mollen Commission, 1994; Christopher Commission, 1991) and international policing (e.g., Klockars et al., 2004) alike ■ ■ Contours of the code vary across:   police agencies (e.g., Klockars et al., 2004)   units within a police agency (e.g., Mollen Commission, 1994)   forms and severity of misconduct (e.g., Stoddard, 1974; Klockars et al., 2004)   familiarity of the persons involved   time & place (e.g., Knapp Commission, 1972 v. Mollen Commission, 1994)

7 The Code of Silence Cont. ■ ■ The importance of the code:   determines the boundaries of informally tolerated behavior   affects the socialization of recruits   limits police officers’ willingness to report misconduct ■ ■ Supervisors and the code:   supervisors have a crucial role in curtailing the code of silence among line officers and controlling police misconduct   could participate in the code themselves ■ ■ The code and the rank:   compared to line officers’ code, supervisors’ code seems to be narrower (e.g., Kutnjak Ivkovich & Klockars, 2000; Kutnjak Ivkovich and Shelley, 2008)

8 The Code of Silence Cont. ■ ■ The code and the SAPS:   not studied extensively (e.g., Newham, 2004) ■ ■ Newham’s study (2004):   measured the code in one inner-city police station in Johannesburg (N=104 police officers)   in 6 out of 11 scenarios describing cases of police misconduct, the majority of officers would adhere to the code   the code seems to be the least protective of a bribe from a speeding motorist, bribe from a late bar close, and a crime scene theft   in only 1 out of 11 scenarios the respondents indicated that their fellow officers would report; the code covered all other scenarios ■ ■ Our study:   country-wide exploration of the code and the relation between the code and perceptions of disciplinary fairness

9 Models of the Code & Fairness ■ ■ Theoretical approach by Kutnjak Ivković & Klockars (2000) ■ ■ Model 1: simplified deterrence model   the more severe discipline, the narrower the code ■ ■ Model 2: discipline indifference model   no relation between the code and disciplinary fairness ■ ■ Model 3: simple justice model   the fairer the discipline, the narrower the code

10 Methodology: The Questionnaire ■ ■ Klockars and Kutnjak Ivković (1995) develop a way to measure:   the contours of the code of silence   views about the appropriate and expected discipline ■ ■ Questionnaire asks non-threatening questions of fact and opinion   11 hypothetical scenarios - 10 scenarios with corruption - 1 scenario with excessive force ■ ■ Police officer in the questionnaire:   5 years of experience   good work record   no discipline nairaland.com

11 The Questionnaire Cont. ■ ■ Each scenario followed by questions about:   misconduct seriousness   violation of official rules   appropriate discipline   expected discipline   willingness to report misconduct ■ ■ This paper focuses on the code of silence and the relation between the evaluations of discipline fairness and the code of silence

12 Methodology: Respondents ■ ■ Data collection:   in the summer of 2005, questionnaires administered at the SAPS training centers in 7 provinces   all supervisors participating in the training were surveyed & a few declined to participate (response rate 85%+)   the corruption-related scandal of Jacob Zuma (deputy president) created the climate of fear  data collection ended abruptly with 379 completed questionnaires

13 Methodology: Respondents Cont. ■ ■ Sample characteristics:   assignment: - detective/investigative units (37.2%) - special operations (21.9%) - patrol (19.3%)   agency size: - mostly working in medium-sized or large police agencies   rank: - 21% Sergeants, 25% Inspectors, 48% Captains, & 6% Superintendents   length of service: - 2 years of below: 8% - 3 to 10 years: 42% - over 10 years: 50% Info.gov.za

14 Methodology: Respondents Cont. ■ ■ Sample characteristics:   positive relation between rank and length of service   in prior work, we regressed both rank and length of service on the evaluations of scenario seriousness, violation of official rules, appropriate discipline, and willingness to report  length of service is relevant, but rank is not Figure 1: Percent of Respondents by Rank and Length of Service

15 Measuring the Code of Silence

16 Measuring the Code of Silence Cont.

17 The Code of Silence and Experience % not reporting

18 Perceptions of Disciplinary Fairness ■ ■ Perceptions of appropriate and expected discipline:   the respondents had six disciplinary options to choose from: - no discipline - suspension without pay - verbal reprimand- demotion in rank - written reprimand- dismissal   for most scenarios, officers leaned toward no discipline or mild discipline ■ ■ Determining disciplinary fairness:   disciplinary fairness= appropriate discipline – expected discipline - if the result = 0, discipline is viewed as “fair” - if the result = -1 to -5, discipline is viewed as “too harsh” - if the result = 1 to 5, discipline is viewed as “too lenient”

19 Perceptions of Discipline Fairness

20 Perceptions of Disciplinary Fairness Cont. ■ ■ Views on appropriate and expected discipline:   in only 3 out of 11 scenarios, the majority of supervisors evaluated discipline as “fair” (Scenarios 4, 5, and 6)   thus, there is a substantial minority in 3 scenarios and the majority in 8 scenarios who evaluated discipline severity as unfair ■ ■ Perceptions of unfairness (substantial minority or majority):   in many scenarios perceptions of discipline as being both “too harsh” and “too lenient”   however, in such cases, “too harsh” is more dominant (higher % of respondents opting for “too harsh” than “too lenient”) m/thumb_48/ rYI g5J.jpg

21 Perceptions of Disciplinary Fairness and Experience

22 The Code and Disciplinary Fairness ■ ■ Theoretical approach by Kutnjak Ivković & Klockars (2000) ■ ■ Model 1: simplified deterrence model   the more severe discipline, the narrower the code ■ ■ Model 2: discipline indifference model   no relation between the code and disciplinary fairness ■ ■ Model 3: simple justice model   the fairer the discipline, the narrower the code

23 The Code and Fairness Cont. Too Harsh v. Fair ■ ■ ■ 4 scenarios (Scenario 3, 5, 6, & 11) ■ 7 scenarios   scenarios most likely to be  adherence to the code and viewed as rule violating, most perceptions of disciplinary serious, and resulting in fairness not related discipline more serious than written reprimand

24 The Code and Fairness Cont. Fair v. Too Lenient ■ ■ ■ 1 scenario (Scenario 3) ■ 10 scenarios   scenario the most likely to be  adherence to the code and viewed as rule violating, most perceptions of disciplinary serious, and resulting in fairness not related harshest discipline

25 Conclusion ■ ■ Contours of the code among the SAPS supervisors:   the existence of the strong code of silence   the code varies across forms/severity of misconduct   code directly related to the perceptions of seriousness ■ ■ The code and the length of service:   apartheid hires expressed attitudes associated with a lower adherence to the code, regardless of their rank, whereas the most recently hired supervisors were much more inclined to protect nearly all forms of misconduct   Q: To what degree are these experienced supervisors telling the truth? - we tried to maximize this (e.g., anonymous questionnaire, dem. questions limited, ask them whether they lied)

26 Conclusion Cont. ■ ■ The code and the length of service:   Q: How successful were the reforms and training of new supervisors? - research indicates that they are not as equipped as they should be to handle integrity-related challenges experienced on the job ■ ■ The code and the perceptions of disciplinary fairness:   substantial proportion views official discipline as unfair   with a few exceptions, no relation between the code and perceptions of disciplinary fairness   when fairness matters, it is in the scenarios in which the code of silence is narrower (the most serious scenarios)  in other scenarios, the push to adhere to the code might be so strong to overpower perceptions of disciplinary fairness

27 Conclusion Cont. ■ ■ In summary:   the results of our study show that the code of silence is strong among SAPS supervisors  this seriously challenges the notion that the transformation was successful with respect to police tolerance of corruption   at best, selective adherence to the code results in sporadic accountability and results in biased enforcement of laws and differential treatment of citizens  under such conditions, democratic policing has not been achieved


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