A new study published by the Justice Department found that roughly 1,100 officers are arrested each year—or roughly 3 per day. The study, from researchers at Bowling Green State University, is thought to be the first to quantify how often police commit crimes across the country, as well as how various departments discipline their own.
The research showed that 6,724 officers were arrested between 2005 and 2011. Some 41.5 percent were on duty at the time of the offense. The most serious offenses were driving under the influence, aggravated assault, forcible fondling, and forcible rape. Over 12 percent of officers had more than one case in the count, either because their crimes had more than one victim or because they were arrested more than once in the six-year span.
Roughly 42 percent of these cases resulted in a known criminal conviction. Over half of the officers were suspended (33.1 percent) or resigned (25.4 percent). In only 28 percent of the cases were officers actually fired; in 13 percent of the cases, no action was taken at all. The highest rates of arrest came from the New Orleans Police Department, the Milwaukee Police Department, the Memphis Police Department, the New Mexico State Police, and the Pittsburgh Police Department.
"Our data directly contradicts some of the prevailing assumptions and the proposition that only a small group of rotten apples perpetrate the vast majority of police crime," the authors concluded.