Minimizing Risk by Defining Off-Duty Police Misconduct

When a professional sports team fails to make the playoffs year in and year out, sports pundits talk about their losing “locker room culture.” Generally, in the sports environment this losing culture reflects a mindset of players in pursuit of individual statistics, a lack of coaching leadership, and an absence of organization-wide personal accountability requirements. A new coach must root out this culture in order to turn things around. But changing a culture that has been in place for years takes time and planning if subordinates are to buy into it. From a risk management perspective in police administration, a positive cultural change is worth the effort.

Instilling a culture of integrity in policing demands that an agency strive for a level of professionalism that demonstrates department-wide accountability through a written, comprehensive plan. This comprehensive plan must incorporate clearly written rules and regulations; a zealous implementation of these rules; and strict, swift, and uniform sanctions for any violations. At the very least, policy makers must draft a unique template of accountability for their own agencies, in order to avoid the costs of extended litigation, either from citizens or subordinates.