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It takes integrity to play by the rules

August 1, 2017

Read the transcript in Spanish, French and English.

The police officer in the video thinks accepting a “tip” from a woman running late is merely a mutually beneficial arrangement. But to Kathleen O’Toole, the police chief of Seattle, Washington, it is clearly corruption and the practice completely erodes public trust in law enforcement.

“When I hear a scenario like that, it sickens me,” she said. “Nobody despises a bad cop more than a good cop, because the good cops are out there day-in and day-out treating people with courtesy and playing by the rules. One bad actor in a scenario like that undermines all the great work that is done by the good cops.”

O’Toole said the public cannot have confidence or trust in law enforcement when they think the police are motivated by their own personal agendas instead of their duty to care for the community.

She acknowledged that in some countries “tipping,” or, more accurately, bribing a police officer is “just considered a way of doing business.” It was common in the United States as recently as the 1960s and 1970s.

“We’ve undergone an evolution here, and I think other jurisdictions around the world will undergo similar evolutions,” and likewise see the practice as a form of corruption. “Anytime the police take some sort of bribe or favor, it affects the execution of their authority. It’s corruption and it really undermines public trust and confidence,” she said. “That type of activity inevitably leads to even more serious activity.”

In addition, police who are unethical and accept bribes are “often more likely to abuse their powers” when it comes to vulnerable communities like ethnic and religious minorities or the poor. O’Toole said this is because these communities are often “afraid to come forward” to report wrongdoing or otherwise feel they don’t have the power to take on the system.

Ask yourself: Can a police officer who accepts bribes really help the community or fellow officers?

Integrity Starts With You. Join #YLAI For Integrity by taking the pledge at ylai.state.gov/integrity.


Video Transcript


I signed on to protect and serve my community. They’ve got me on traffic duty. But maybe I can serve some even better and make a little extra on the side. Take this lady who just pulled up. She’s late for work. She’s going to offer me what we call a tip. Now a tip is something I receive, when I do my job particularly well. So I’m going to let her through the roadblock and we’re both going to go about our business. She gets to work on time and I get to make a little money on the side.

Now where’s the harm in that?

[TEXT: Safe and secure communities rely on the integrity and professionalism of those in authority.]

[TEXT: Learn “What’s the harm?” at ylai.state.gov/integrity]


Je me suis engagé à protéger et à servir la communauté. Je suis à leur service dans la circulation. Alors je peux servir certains un peu mieux que d’autres pour mettre un peu d’argent de côté. Par exemple, la dame dans la prochaine voiture qui s’arrêtera. Elle est en retard pour son travail. Elle va offrir ce qu’elle appelle un pourboire. Un pourboire c’est quelque chose que je reçois lorsque je fais mon travail particulièrement bien. Je la laisserai passer par le barrage,
et nous continuerons tous les deux notre journée. Elle arrive au travail et je gagne un peu d’argent.

Où est le mal en ça ?

[TEXT: Les communautés sûres se fient à l’intégrité et au professionnalisme de ceux au pouvoir.]

[TEXT: Apprendre “Où est le mal en ça ?” à ylai.state.gov/integrity]


Yo me comprometí a proteger y servir a mi comunidad. Ellos me asignaron a controlar el tránsito. Por lo que, puedo servir un poco mejor que otros, al ganar un poco de dinero
extraoficialmente. Consideremos, por ejemplo: la señora que viene en el próximo carro que es detenido- A ella se le está haciendo tarde para llegar a su trabajo. Ella me va a ofrecer algo que nosotros llamamos una propina. Una propina es algo que obtengo por hacer mi trabajo
especialmente bien. Le voy a permitir a ella que siga y de ese modo, ambos podemos continuar con nuestros días. Ella llega a su trabajo a tiempo y yo gano algún dinero extraoficialmente.

¿Qué hay de malo en eso?

[TEXT: Las comunidades seguras confían en la integridad y profesionalismo de aquellos con autoridad.]

[TEXT: Aprenda “¿Cuál sería el daño?” En ylai.state.gov/integrity]