In a new book, Jammed Up, Robert Kane of Drexel University and Michael White of Arizona State University study police misconduct in New York City. Examining confidential files on 1,543 New York Police Department officers who lost their jobs for misconduct over a 22-year period, the authors explore factors that predict officer misconduct as well as the police department’s responses.
They found common characteristics in cops who went bad, such as working in a high crime area or being hired with a questionable background. Black officers were 3 times more likely to be fired than white officers, in part, due to the high crime in which they work.
Officers who were older when they were hired, had a college degree, or experienced success or promotions stayed out of trouble.
Prof. Candace McCoy of the City University of New York Graduate Center and John Jay College of Criminal Justice says in a review on the book’s website that Kane and White “deeply examine the conditions under which cops become criminals or at least get ‘jammed up’.” McCoy says the authors conclude that “organizational policy and practices, not simply individual ‘bad apples,’ can be a source of bad policing through no fault of individuals. In other words, sometimes the barrel itself is rotten and induces good apples to do bad things.”