Sunday, February 17, 2008

Not Just Bad Apples

Today's Hartford Courant has a story about the corruption rampant in the Madison Police Department.

The biggest problem facing the Madison Police Department isn't the dizzying list of brazen, on-duty crimes by officers, from burglaries to the electronic stalking of women to receiving oral sex from prostitutes to ripping off taxpayers through workers' compensation fraud.

The thorniest consequence, the one facing most crippled police departments, is this: The climate of corruption is so deeply seated that just removing the bad cops -- the painful process going on now with no clear end in sight -- may not by itself bring radical, permanent change.

"The 'rotten apple theory' is a farce,'' said Neal Trautman, who's been teaching police officers about moral dilemmas for 20 years through the National Institute of Ethics, which is based in Mississippi. "These problems are cultural, and they're created over a period of years. Just removing the bad apples is a way of the dodging the truth.''

It's nice to see the "rotten apple theory" tossed out the window in a major local media account.


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