POLICE CORRUPTION CONTROL IN HONG KONG AND NEW YORK CITY:A Dilemma of Checks and Balances in Combating Corruption

jinhua cheng, Yale University


Police Corruption is a universal problem and one of the most notorious obstacles staying in the way toward good governance. This paper discusses the following questions: Why have some city governments effectively changed the equilibrium of corruption and built up a new equilibrium of integrity within the police force, but others failed to do so? In particular, why have some undemocratic municipal governments been more successful than democratic ones in combating police corruption? To answer these questions, we make two major arguments in this paper. First of all, in principle, an institutionalized organization independent of the police force, which assumes the responsibility of investigating into, monitoring of, and preventing police corruption, is a necessary condition for the effective control of police corruption in the long run. The police force itself is not reliable on combating police corruption because of the popularity of “the blue code of silence” within the force. Secondly, there is a dilemma with checks and balances in the process of controlling police corruption. On the one hand, the establishment of an institutionalized independent organization assuming the task of anticorruption is exactly the pursuit of checks and balances on the police force. On the other hand, however, this pursuit of checks and balances could ironically be better achieved in a regime without institutionalized checks and balances than one with them. These arguments result from a comparative case study of police corruption control in two cities, Hong Kong and New York City