riot police
AP Photo / Matt Rourke

New Database Tracks How Much Crime Cops Commit in America

When a police officer is caught doing something they are not supposed to, one of the usual responses from police unions and public relations staffers is that not all cops are bad and this was just “one bad apple.” While that concept is definitely up for debate, new figures show that there’s an awful lot of bad apples out there wearing badges, breaking laws and being thug-ass criminals.

Philip Stinson, a former cop and attorney, just released some of the most comprehensive data about cop crimes available and the numbers are alarming.

The Henry A. Wallace Police Crime Database collects information from all 50 states (plus Washington, D.C.) and examines more than 8,000 incidents of arrests, which led to 13,623 charges of 6,596 officers. The time period studied lasts from 2005 to 2012.

What’s scary about those numbers is that they are from only from a small percentage of police departments in the United States. The data looked at 2,830 police agencies, but there are almost 18,000 in the country. Using just those numbers, researchers were able to determine that nearly 1,000 officers were arrested every year.

Because the bulk of police departments were not studied, the total numbers are substantially higher. “It’s not as rare as you might think,” Stinson said of police crime to VICE News. “It happens at all stages of officers’ careers, and at all ranks,”

The bulk of the charges were for misdemeanor assault and driving under the influence. Although more shockingly, rape made the list of top ten charges officers are hit with. From 2005 to 2012, according to data, the cops examined were charged with sex-related crimes 1,219 times, and most of the victims were 17 or under.  There were also over 1000 charges for “official misconduct,” AKA being corrupt as fuck.

“There’s a tendency on the part of too many officers to abuse their authority,” former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper told VICE. “Too many officers whose first impulse is to cover their asses and try to cover up the misconduct or the crime. Too many supervisors who look the other way.”

Not surprising.

Also not surprising is the amount of officers who are charged with crimes who are not convicted and who end up remaining cops. “I always assumed that if an officer gets arrested, their career was over,” Stinson said. “What we’re seeing is that this is not the case. Many of these officers don’t get convicted, and many of them who actually leave their job, lose it, or quit, end up working as police officers elsewhere. So there’s a sort of officer shuffle that goes on.”

So the next time your grandmother or weird uncle is like, “Not all cops are bad,” you can respond, “Maybe not, but there sure are a lot who are!”


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