When good cops go bad

Like most recruits, I entered the po- lice as an impressionable young man from a provincial working- class environment with a basic education. I was nothing special; I was al- truistic but I was also easily manipulated.

The moment you become part of the police, you are immersed in a culture that sees its role as guiding society and deciding what is right and wrong. You feel you have an obligation – yes, even a duty – to guide the country towards being a decent society. Your task is honourable. What better vocation, in fact, than to rid the country of evil? Unfortunately, when you’re instrumental in preserving society from villains, it doesn’t take long to come to believe that the ends justify the means.

No recruit is ever formally taught to use violence, to lie and cover up. None of my mentors did that to me and I never did it to those I mentored. But the culture sends a very clear message: “When you witness a transgression by a colleague, keep your mouth shut; better still, provide an account which supports the miscreant and helps him/her out of a sticky situation.”