Course description and learning goals

This course explores wrongdoing by law enforcement agencies and employees, suggests possible causes and assesses proposals for remediation and reform. We will examine how factors such as selection and training, employee socialization, law, public policy, and pressures from citizens, politicians and interest groups can lead to excesses, including corruption, misuse of force and amplifying crime.  Methods and approaches that have proven useful in countering official deviance will also be presented and analyzed.

Texts and readings

Shooting of Anthony D. Lee: District Attorneyīs report

Misconduct at SFPD: S.F. Chronicle

Rampart scandal:  Frontline   Transcripts:  Video   Perez
LAPD:  Website   BOI report  OIG homepage
Indep. Review panel report   U.S. DOJ/LAPD consent decree



Two exams, comprised of short-answer questions that test comprehension of issues discussed in class, readings and guest presentations.

Officer interviews and panel presentations

On February 13 students will break into teams.  Each team will select a chairperson and assistant.  Teams will identify three questions relating to the causes, prevention and control of police misconduct.  For example, one question might be: What is the most serious temptation that officers normally encounter?

Before April 10 students will interview a city police officer or county deputy sheriff currently performing patrol work in Southern California.  This officer must be below the rank of Sergeant and not a member of  the studentīs immediate or extended family.  During the interview the student will explore each of their panelīs questions in depth and take neat, detailed notes.

It is each studentīs responsibility to find an officer and conduct the interview.  Officers cannot count as an interview subject for more than one student.  Please be sure you ask the officer if they have already been interviewed for this course.  If so, choose another officer.

Students may not use interviews previously conducted.  Students doing interviews for other classes may use those interviews as long as they explicitly cover the necessary questions and fully comply with all other requirements of this project.

On April 10 students must bring to class a photocopy of their interview notes.  Stapled to the notes must be the officerīs business card, with the date and time of the interview written in by the student.

On this same date panels will meet to organize their presentations.  Comparing and contrasting what the officers said to material from the readings and class discussion, what are the implications for preventing and controlling police misconduct?  Immediately after this meeting students will turn in the photocopy of the interview notes, with the stapled business card, for credit.

On April 17 the interview notes and business cards will be returned, to be included with the student papers (see below).

Panels will present on designated dates (see below).  Approximately one hour will be allotted for each panel, including time for class discussion.  At the conclusion of each panel presentation, every member will turn in the following items, stapled together in this sequence, for credit:

1. Cover sheet, bearing only the studentīs social security number (student ID number)
2. A photocopy of the handwritten notes taken during the interview
3. The officerīs business card, with date and time of the interview written in by the student
4. A neatly typed three page paper summarizing the officerīs responses.  Use one page per question, with the question at the top.  Pages must be single-sided, double spaced, Times New Roman 12-point type, one inch margins all around.

Student submissions will be graded on clarity, neatness, completeness, legibility, grammar and spelling and following directions.  Students who are poorly prepared for the presentation, who do not participate in their panel or do not appear for the presentation will lose some or all participation points.


100 points can be earned:

1.  30 (max) for each exam, when taken on the scheduled date
2.  10 (max) for the interview notes with business card, if submitted on April 10.  Five point penalty each week the notes and/or business card are late.
3.  20 (max) for the papers, if submitted complete on the date of the presentation.  Five point penalty each week a paper is late or incomplete.
4.  10 (max) for participating in a panel on the scheduled date (cannot be "made up")

At the end of the semester, overall grades may be adjusted ("curved") to reflect class performance.  Absolutely no extra credit assignments will be given..

Interviews, interview notes, the term paper, participating in panels and taking both exams are required components of the course.  Students who fail to complete any of these will fail the course.  Withdrawals and incompletes will only be permitted insofar as they do not constitute an abuse of the academic process and are consistent with University regulations.

Makeup exams may be permitted under exceptional, verified circumstances.  If allowed, they must be taken during or prior to the next scheduled class date.


FOD: Forces of Deviance  PM: Police Misconduct

Date        Topics                                                                     Readings                                

1. 2/6      Police working environment, ideology and culture     FOD 3, 4; PM 20, 23

2. 2/13    Continued.  Panels organize.

3. 2/20    History and definitions of police deviance                 FOD 1, 2; PM 1, 3, 6, 7

4. 2/27    Continued                                                               Website

5. 3/6      Continued

6. 3/13    Motives and justifications                                        FOD 5; PM 15

7. 3/20    Continued

8. 3/27    EXAM 1 (weeks 1-7)

9. 4/3      Spring recess.
               Last chance to interview officers.

10. 4/10  Past examples of misconduct.                                 FOD 8, 9; PM 12, 16
Students turn in copy of interview notes.
Panels plan presentations.

11. 4/17  Contīd

12. 4/24  Legal issues                                                            website; PM 29, 30

13. 5/1    Rampart scandal                                                    New Yorker; Frontline;
Ind. Review  Panel                                                                                                               

14. 5/8    Continued.  Panels 1 and 2Papers due.            FOD 10, 11

15. 5/15  Continued.  Panels 3 and 4Papers due.            PM 24

16. 5/22  Continued.  Panels 5 and 6Papers due.            PM 31, 32

17. 5/29  7:30pm - FINAL EXAM (weeks 10-16)