Police officers are legally permitted to use force. and their superiors and the public expect them to do so, when appropriate. This power when used in dealing largely with disorderly elements of the society corrupts some people working in law enforcement.

They may gradually develop an attitude or sense of authority over society, particularly under traditional reaction-based policing models; in some cases the police believe that they are above the law.

However, this bad apple paradigm is considered by some to be an easy way out. Generally, reports on the causes of misconduct in policing calls it

a simplistic explanation that permits the organization and senior management to blame corruption on individuals and individual faults - behavioural, psychological, background factors, and so on

rather than addressing systemic factors.

Systemic factors include

Pressures to conform to certain aspects of police culture, such as

  • the Blue Code of Silence , which can sustain an oppositional criminal subculture protecting the interests of police who violate the law.

  • the we-they perspective in which outsiders are viewed with suspicion or distrust.

  • the command and control structures with a rigid hierarchical foundation. As a general rule, the more rigid the hierarchy, the lower the scores on a measure of ethical decision-makings. This factor more than anything else causes the Lucifer Effect. , and

  • the deficiencies in internal accountability mechanisms (including internal investigation processes). Quis custodiet ipsos custode?. Who shall guard the guardians?

The Lucifer Effect does away with the bad apple syndrone and introduces the concept of you cannot find a sweet cucumber in a vinegar barrel syndrone.

Police use of force is kept in check in many jurisdictions by the issuance of a use of force continuum. A use of force continuum sets levels of force considered appropriate in direct response to a subject's behavior. This power is granted by the civil government, with limits set out in statutory law as well as common law.

Some members of the public may in fact perceive the use of force by police as excessive even when the force used is lawful.

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