Police corruption is a significant indicator for corruption of public officials that citizens directly experience because the police serve citizens every day at close quarters. The problem is that both objective data of police corruption incidents an ...
Police corruption is a significant indicator for corruption of public officials that citizens directly experience because the police serve citizens every day at close quarters. The problem is that both objective data of police corruption incidents and subjective public perceptions of police corruption show adverse results. If this situation continues, the police will face more serious corruption problems. Thus, the police should accurately perceive the problem and prepare policies and strategies to prevent police corruption.
This study aims to suggest plans for vitalizing whistle-blowing in the police as a way of preventing and responding to incidents of police corruptions. Whistle-blowing indicates an action of a member of an organization, publicizing illegal behaviors or corruptions of the organization. The term “whistle blowing” is originated from a practice of United Kingdom police officers that they blew the whistle to warn misconducts of citizens and fellow officers.
Whistle-blowing has effectively worked as a social control mechanism. For instance, among 1,271 incidents between 2002 and 2014 in which the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC) referred to investigative authorities (the prosecution, police, the Board of Audit and Inspection, etc.), 647 (50.1%) cases were recognized by ACRC through whistle-blowing. In fact, whistle-blowing has provided critical evidence for many high-profile incidents of corruptions in the defense industry, private schools, and governments.
The police have made an effort to supplement weaknesses of the current system of police whistle-blowing. To enhance the confidentiality of whistleblowers, the system has been operated through contracting with outside organizations. Also, whistleblowers are monetarily compensated, and they are promoted through a special promotion process.
Despite these efforts of the police, whistle-blowing is not considered optimal options to solve problems. In fact, in 2014, a whistleblower who reported medical malpractice by the National Police Hospital received a disadvantageous personnel decision. This is not an isolated case, and police officers hesitate to report misconduct of police and fellow officers. Consequently, in each year, only about 22 whistle-blowing cases are reported.
This study approaches the problem in two ways: protection and rewarding. Thus, this study surveyed professors and policy aides who have a specialty in policing in order to identify the significance of related policies and practices. Results show that, to vitalize whistle-blowing, protection policies are more significant than rewarding policies. Given the current under-protection of whistleblowers, this result implies that protection of whistleblowers should be prioritized.
Results of additional analyses on sub-factors show that, among protection policies, confidentiality is found to be the most important, followed by identity security, physical protection, exemption from liability, prevention, legal support, and medical support. That is, to properly protect whistleblowers, the police should completely protect whistle blower’s identity and should prevent discriminations in personnel or discipline decisions.
Regarding policies on rewarding, a status reward is found to be most significant, followed by a monetary reward and symbolic reward. That is, promotion or advantageous assignment is important to vitalize whistle-blowing.
In sum, in order to vitalize whistle-blowing, the police should completely protect the identity of whistleblowers. Thus, in addition to the current outside contract system, the police should require investigators to keep complete confidentiality in the investigation processes and during the examination of genuineness. It involves disciplinary actions against individuals who leak the identity of whistleblowers. In addition, the police also need to prepare a whistle-blower rewarding system that protects identity and confidentiality of whistleblowers.
This study provides experts’ insight for vitalizing whistle-blowing under the present situation that whistle-blowing in the police has not closely examined in South Korea. Adopting the suggestions of the current study should enhance the current whistle-blowing system. A lack of rank-and-file officers’ opinions, however, is an important limitation of this study.