Rutgers‒Camden Center Suggests Corporate Compliance and Ethics Strategies Could Help Police Departments Prevent and Detect Misconduct

 

By Jeanne Leong

Management processes that corporations use to prevent and detect wrongdoing by employees could also be effective in police departments, according to the Rutgers Center for Government Compliance and Ethics (RCGCE), headquartered at Rutgers Law School in Camden.

By using best practices of effective corporate compliance and ethics programs, police departments can thwart and uncover wrongdoing and create lasting change, according to Emil Moschella, the center’s executive director, and Joseph Murphy, chair of the RCGCE.

Joseph Muphy

Joseph Murphy

Inspired by the global racial reckoning following George Floyd’s death and calls for police reforms, Moschella, a retired FBI agent and a compliance consultant, and Murphy, a Haddonfield lawyer with a background in corporate government compliance and ethics, wrote the article “Corporate Compliance Approach to Racism and Excessive Force Issues in Police Departments,” which appears on New York University Law School’s “Compliance & Enforcement” blog.

“In the private sector, companies and other organizations, such as universities, use compliance and ethics programs to exercise due diligence to prevent and detect violations of law and unethical conduct,” says Moschella, of Lewes, Del. “A part of that process is to identify potential risks and get them mitigated before they become actual misconduct and cause harm.”

Using a successful framework for compliance and ethics, the authors say police departments could develop plans to handle issues such as race relations in policing, the use of force, providing experts to assist police in dealing with impaired people, and preventing dismissed officers from working in another police department.

Emil Moschella, executive director of RCGEC

Emil Moschella

Moschella and Murphy offer 15 compliance and ethics management tools to detect and prevent misconduct. They suggest oversight by a high-level governing authority such as city council, the appointment of an empowered and independent chief ethics and compliance officer, and developing clear policies, codes of conduct, and internal controls. In addition, Moschella and Murphy call for prompt, thorough, and independent investigation of complaints of police misconduct, robust training and ongoing communications, auditing police actions to identify trends, and periodic evaluation of the program’s effectiveness.

“Intentionally, we didn’t give them specific instructions on day-to-day operations,” says Moschella. “We didn’t tell them any of those types of things that they may want to come up with on their own. What we did suggest is to establish a lasting framework and, through this, to put in any changes to the way they operate.”

Moschella says instituting an ongoing process that has been successful is key to making the reforms sustainable for many years.

“If you implement a policy, like ‘we are not going to do this anymore,’ sometimes those things drop off the end of the earth, unless there is an overlapping process to make sure things continue to get reviewed, analyzed, and refreshed, and training is offered,” he says.

The RCGCE was founded in 2010 through the Jay A. Sigler Fund for Corporate Compliance, established in 2008 by Murphy, a Rutgers–Camden CCAS’70 alumnus. Murphy created the fund in honor of Sigler, a distinguished Rutgers‒Camden political science professor who had long discussions with Murphy about governmental power.

Murphy approached Rayman Solomon, who then served as dean of Rutgers Law School in Camden, with his idea to create a center to promote compliance. As their conversations developed, Murphy identified the issues of compliance programs in governmental agencies as a critical issue that was going unaddressed. “The idea was that the regulators should be held to the same standards they hold the regulated to,” notes Solomon.

Rayman Solomon

Rayman Solomon

“When I went into the business world,” Murphy explains, “I observed the same phenomena where it was the use and the abuse of power, and the question was, how do you prevent those abuses in companies and in organizations?

“Rigorous compliance steps were needed to help the government, including the judiciary, address #MeToo issues and protect vulnerable employees by pushing back against discrimination and sexual harassment,” says Murphy. “On the international scene, bribery has been a global curse. Government agencies, such as those that issue licenses or purchase products, need to implement strong compliance programs to prevent solicitation of and demands for bribery.”

Murphy and Sigler are co-authors of the first book on compliance, Interactive Corporate Compliance: An Alternative to Regulatory Compulsion (Greenwood Press, 1988).

The Rutgers Center for Government Compliance and Ethics seeks to advance the application of effective ethics and compliance program principles as an element of public governance at the federal, state, and local levels in the United States and worldwide through a variety of activities including research, education, networking, and thought leadership.

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