Who is affected by unethical police officers and how?

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Just about everyone is adversely affected by the behavior of unethical police officers, not least of all other police officers. The actions of a small minority can easily undermine the confidence of the general public in the forces of law and order, making people think that unethical behavior among the police is the norm, rather than the exception.

In turn, this makes it more difficult for honest cops to do their duty and protect the public. The effectiveness of modern-day policing depends—to a large extent—on a high degree of cooperation between the police and the general public. However, such cooperation is less forthcoming where there's a general perception with the unethical behavior within the police force. Such chronic distrust results in a lower rate of effectiveness (in all aspects of policing and therefore law), which has a damaging impact on both the police and the public they're meant to serve.

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Many people are affected by unethical police officers. The effects of their unethical behavior can differ depending on how exactly they are unethical. Let us look at some of the groups that are affected and the ways in which they are.

When officers’ unethical behavior consists of police violence or excessive force, the first group affected is the group of people against whom this violence is carried out.  These people are physically affected by the unethical behavior.  A second group affected by this type of behavior is the larger communities whose members are most likely to be treated in an unethical manner.  The clearest example of this today is the way in which African American communities have been affected by excessive violence against black youths by police officers.

Police officers in general are also affected by unethical officers.  They are affected regardless of whether the unethical behavior has to do with excessive force, corruption, or anything else.  When a few police officers act in unethical ways, it makes the entire community of police officers look bad.  All of the police officers who act in ethical ways at all (or practically all) times are tarred with the same brush as the officers who are more chronically unethical.

Thus, we can see that at least three groups of people can be significantly affected by unethical police behavior.

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