15 Great Movies About Police Corruption That Are Worth Watching (2022)

The thin blue line has been featured time and time again throughout cinema history. From hardboiled detective thrillers to intense character studies, corrupt police officers have been a fixture in movies. Sometimes we may root for the hero, the Boy Scout, the white knight who swoops in to clean up the crooked police department but there are those rare instances where we find ourselves on the other side of the line wanting the bad cop to get away.

There is something to be said about being bound by an oath or code that cements the ties between individuals. They are sworn to protect civilians but also adhere to an unspoken bond to protect each other, even when they’re on the take. Films about police work show us the behind the scene footage we may not get to see in real life. It’s even more fascinating to see the inner workings of a cop operating outside the law.

There are always means to an end, however, and sometimes these films feature cops who may have been pushed into these circumstances. Other times, the corrupt cop is an absolute monster who loves nothing more than to hurt innocent people. From corrupt lone wolves to systemic level corruption, crooked cop thrillers/dramas have set the scene for some intense films.

15. Cop Land (1997)

Released in 1997, this film is Sylvester Stallone’s return to true form. Twenty years prior, we were able to witness what greatness Stallone was capable of and this role allowed him to flex his skills once more. Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, and Michael Rappaport all give excellent performances as part of the supporting cast. The subplots in the film all come together in the end to tell a riveting story of both bravery and corruption

(Video) Officer fired after ‘taking things too far’ while arresting man in wheelchair

Cop Land is the name given to Garrison, New Jersey, a small town that is home to several corrupt policemen. There is a residency requirement for police working in New York City. The officers take on part-time jobs as transit police in order to get around this requirement.

Stallone stars as Sheriff Freddy Heflin. He lost hearing in one ear after trying to save a woman from drowning as a teenager. He is not a “real cop” according to Keitel, who plays Uncle Ray, a connected, corrupt cop who secures mortgages for other police through a mob run bank. Figgis (Liotta) is a coked up time bomb with has his own personal grudge against Uncle Ray. Things run smoothly until an officer involved shooting set in motion a chain of events that threaten to expose Garrison’s finest.

There are many veteran actors in this film, some of whom starred in police corruption films before so they have the repertoire down cold. Stallone is perfectly cast in this role as he plays the honorable, yet damaged, moral figure against the rankled, corrupt Uncle Ray. His scenes with Annabella Sciorra were quite precious in the midst of all of the corruption surrounding them. This is a solid film that fans of Stallone need to watch.

14. Night Falls on Manhattan (1996)

New York is home for many police dramas and this film is no different. What does make it different is the stunning performances and tight script. It goes beyond detailing police corruption and shows the compromises that are often made as part of the criminal justice system. Sidney Lumet really out did himself with this one.

Andy Garcia is Attorney Sean Casey, who has been selected by the New York’s DA office to try a big time drug dealer. During a stakeout on the dealer’s apartment, a shootout ensues resulting in the death of two policemen, and injuring Sean’s father.

When they call for back up, police from three different precincts show up and more confusion sets in. This case should be a huge career boost for the hotshot attorney, until police corruption accusations arise from the drug dealer’s lawyer. As the layers are peeled back, Sean’s father is implicated in the accusations.

This film is criminally underrated. Nothing is cut and dry in this movie and Lumet clearly wants his audience to struggle with issues of morality and integrity. The characters are complex and the plot moves at the perfect pace. The DA’s office, the police, and the criminals all have something to gain and lose here. This quintessential police corruption film offers a keen look at the decisions we make for family and ambition.

(Video) Good Cop Gets Bad Cop Fired and Arrested

13. A Hard Day (2014)

Kim Seong-hoon directs this fast paced crime thriller about a policeman who is arguably having a much worse day than you. This movie contains as many laughs as it does thrills though, so it’s not as intense as some others on this list but a great movie nonetheless. All of the events take place within 24 hours so it’s jam packed with action, as well.

Go Geon-soo is a police detective who is on his way to his mother’s funeral. His wife wants a divorce and his police department is being investigated for embezzlement. As he drives distracted on the phone and speeding down the road, he hits and kills a man. He covers up this accident in one of the most ludicrous ways imaginable. Things seem to be calming down later as the detective starts to receive mysterious phone calls indicating that someone was watching him the night he committed the hit and run.

The movie is fun to watch with all the plot twists and hilarious moments. The scene where Go Geon-soo is trying to cover up the hit and run honestly has you hoping that he gets away with it. There really is no hero per se in this film. Everyone has dirty hands in this movie but Kim does a great job directing this nonstop thrill ride.

12. Bad Lieutenant (1992)

Harvey Keitel is a man not to be trifled with. At least he has made a career out of portraying characters that are not to be trifled with (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Pulp Fiction). His performance is raw, brave, and unnerving in this film. His character is also mired in corruption and self-loathing.

The Lieutenant has both gambling and drug addiction issues. He is so emotionally isolated and devastatingly lonely, he seeks prostitutes just to know what it feels like to have human contact. He guzzles alcohol to take the edge off of the other drugs. He abuses his authority by making deals with drug dealers in order to get drugs and money for gambling on baseball games.

(Video) North Texas man files lawsuit against 2 Keller police officers after August arrest

The Lieutenant eventually ends up over his head. After a nun is raped, he investigates her case and is prompted to do some major soul searching.

This is one of Harvey Keitel’s best performances. It’s daring in its scope, as many actors would not want to take on a role this controversial at the time. The corruption is an outgrowth of The Lieutenant’s own personal demons more so than the job’s influence on him as a person. Abel Ferrara follows the Scorsese blueprint of sin, guilt, and redemption in this remarkable piece of filmmaking.

11. Prince of the City (1981)

Based on Robert Daley’s book, Prince of the City looks at police corruption in the drug trade in New York City (check out the recent documentary The Seven Five for a more in depth look) Treat Williams is Detective Daniel Ciello. He is not willing to rat on his partners but reluctantly wears a wire to get information on other corrupt cops. Sidney Lumet once again pulls together a harrowing tale of police corruption in this epic.

Ciello is part of an elite unit that happens to be filled with dirty cops. He doesn’t have the cleanest hands but he believes he’s doing the right thing. This unit has special privileges within the city since they are the ones who are putting themselves on the front lines in the drug war. They do as they please even if it means keeping informants strung out on drugs or keeping the money in the drug busts for themselves. Ciello tries to play both sides as the hero and the villain with disastrous consequences.

What really makes this film intriguing is looking at the way relationships work between informants, witnesses, and prosecutors. There are major moral and ethical issues presented in this film. It’s never easy being an honest detective when everyone surrounding you is corrupt. This movie is dark, gritty, and captures this period of New York perfectly. Scorsese fans will appreciate this one.

10. Serpico (1973)

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Peter Maas’ biography about Frank Serpico spawned this next police corruption film. Frank Serpico was a whistleblower on police corruption in the NYPD during the 1960s-1970s. His actions led the Knapp Commission to further investigate the department. Al Pacino, who plays the titular character, had just wrapped up The Godfather at the time so he is really in his element here.

Serpico is an honest cop in a squad full of corruption. He refuses to take his cut of the money that police extort from neighborhood criminals. He is a simple, yet forthright individual. His heroism is not well appreciated by his fellow officers however, as no one wants to work with him because they believe he can’t be trusted. The harder they press, the harder he presses back and soon he is in for the fight of his life.

Pacino’s performance is amazing in this film. Slight of build and covered in shaggy hair, he is a firecracker and the intensity of his performance is nothing shy of brilliant. Pacino cemented his place in history as one of the finest actors of his generation in this film. This character really took Pacino to places beyond his role as Michael Corleone in The Godfather.

9. Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)

Otto Preminger had a great deal of success in his storied career (Laura, Anatomy of a Murder). Ben Hecht wrote the screenplay, as the dialogue is rhythmic and snappy in this movie. The plot of this film is not as dense as so many other film noire but the story is intriguing and the acting is superb.

This hard-boiled detective thriller stars Dana Andrews as Detective Sergeant Mark Dixon who wants to avoid walking in his father’s footsteps and obey the law. The problem is he’s got a hair trigger temper and has been the subject of multiple complaints by citizens for his rough treatment. His superior has made it clear that he won’t continue to tolerate his belligerent actions.

In the meantime, a gangster running an illegal gambling operation runs into trouble when one of his patrons ends up dead. After this incident, Mark Dixon goes to interrogate one of the suspects and his temper gets the best of him once more. He has to try to keep up appearances, but sometimes the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

This is a very compelling story as we watch a man struggle against what might be in his very nature. He wants to be the good, heroic cop and on some level, that’s what he is. His unconventional interrogation techniques and temper push him against the border of being exactly what he despises: a criminal. You’ll have to decide if he really redeems himself in the end.

(Video) Deputy accused of using excessive force, caught on camera in Fort Myers

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What is the most serious type of police corruption? ›

Corruption is most serious when the climate in a police department permits the existence of corruption of all kinds. The most common type of police corruption is the acceptance of bribes from those who deal in the vices of gambling, prostitution, illegal drinking, and the illegal use of drugs.

What movie do they pretend to be cops? ›

Let's Be Cops

Which country has the least police corruption? ›

Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Singapore, and Sweden are perceived as the least corrupt nations in the world, ranking consistently high among international financial transparency, while the most apparently corrupt are Syria, Somalia (both scoring 13), and South Sudan (11).

What are 2 examples of corruption? ›

  • Bribery.
  • Trading in influence.
  • Patronage.
  • Nepotism and cronyism.
  • Gombeenism and parochialism.
  • Electoral fraud.
  • Embezzlement.
  • Kickbacks.

What are 2 ways police corruption could be controlled? ›

This involves increased supervision of line officers, giving supervisors increased responsibility for combating corruption, and eliminating dept practices that encourage corruption (e.g., arrest quotas). In addition, opportunities for corruption must be reduced.

Is Let's be cops on Netflix? ›

Rent Let's Be Cops (2014) on DVD and Blu-ray - DVD Netflix.

What is the movie let's be cops about? ›

Is Let's be cops inappropriate? ›

Let's Be Cops is rated R by the MPAA for language including sexual references, some graphic nudity, violence and drug use.

Which country has best police? ›

1. Police Force of England: Metropolitan (Scotland Yard Police) is the first on our top ten list, they truly exceeded the call of duty when they launched a campaign raising awareness of the police awareness number. They have successfully achieved police protection in the nooks and crannies of the UK.

Which is the most honest country in the world? ›

  • Denmark. #1 in Transparency Rankings. #3 out of 73 in 2020. ...
  • Canada. #2 in Transparency Rankings. ...
  • Germany. #3 in Transparency Rankings. ...
  • Netherlands. #4 in Transparency Rankings. ...
  • New Zealand. #5 in Transparency Rankings. ...
  • Australia. #6 in Transparency Rankings. ...
  • Sweden. #7 in Transparency Rankings. ...
  • Norway. #8 in Transparency Rankings.

How corrupt is the UK? ›

Public sector corruption in the United Kingdom is perceived to be mostly rare; on Transparency International's 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), the United Kingdom scored 78 on a scale from 0 ("highly corrupt") to 100 ("highly clean").

What are 4 types of corruption? ›

The most common types or categories of corruption are supply versus demand corruption, grand versus petty corruption, conventional versus unconventional corruption and public versus private corruption.

What are the 10 causes of corruption? ›

Main Causes of Corruption
  • Low Pay scales and Wages. ...
  • Low Job opportunities. ...
  • Lack of Strict and fast punishments. ...
  • Lack of fear of a bad reputation. ...
  • Lack of Public Unity. ...
  • Lack of transparency in affairs and deals. ...
  • Lack of Independent detective agency. ...
  • Lack of state funding for elections.
Jul 13, 2022

What is an example of public corruption? ›

Examples of Public Corruption Cases

FBI agents put false trials on the dockets and staged meetings in which judges were bribed to suspend evidence, release information, reduce bail, and appoint lawyers to cases.

What are the four main theories of police corruption? ›

Police corruption carries high costs. First, a corrupt act is a crime. Second, police corruption detracts from the integrity of the police and tarnishes the public image of law enforcement. Third, corruption protects other criminal activity such as drug dealing and prostitution.

How can we stop corruption? ›

Preventing public sector corruption
  1. Codes of conduct. ...
  2. Systems of rewards and incentives. ...
  3. Accessibility. ...
  4. Human resources management. ...
  5. Citizen and stakeholder participation. ...
  6. Open government and e-government. ...
  7. Managing conflicts of interest. ...
  8. Compliance-friendly environment.

What is the most common type of corruption? ›

Bribes, large or small, are the most well-recognised type of corruption, but other forms also exist. Consider nepotism or cronyism, practices where officials extend preferential treatment – such as access to jobs, or other resources and services – to their family members, or friends and associates.

Is there let's be cops 2? ›

The movie grossed more than $80 million in the box office and talk of a Lets Be Cops 2 has begun, but Wayans says he'll have no part until something is done about police brutality in America.

Is Let's be cops funny? ›

A funny movie and also amazing how Damon Wayans, Jr. looks and acts like his daddy. Funny and a good story, Let's be Cops is a peek inside the police world.

Is Let's be cops on Disney? ›

Watch Let's Be Cops | Full movie | Disney+

Where can u watch Let's be cops? ›

Watch Let's Be Cops | Full movie | Disney+

Where can I watch we are cops? ›

You are able to stream Let's Be Cops by renting or purchasing on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, and Vudu.

Where can I find Let's be cops? ›

Let's Be Cops, an action movie starring Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans, and Rob Riggle is available to stream now. Watch it on Prime Video, VUDU, Vudu Movie & TV Store or Redbox.

Why is TAG R? ›

Why is Tag rated R? Tag is rated R by the MPAA for language throughout, crude sexual content, drug use and brief nudity. Violence: - Portrayals of non-graphic violence.

Why is why him rated R? ›

Why Him? is rated R by the MPAA for strong language and sexual material throughout. Violence: - Brief non-graphic violence. - Infrequent portrayals of hand-to-hand violence in a comic context.

Which country has no police system? ›

Vatican City

The smallest country in the world, Vatican City used to have many armed forces to protect the pope and the country but Pope Paul VI abolished all the forces in 1970. However, since the little country is located in Rome, Italy protects the Vatican City.

What do cops call their cars? ›

A police car (also called a police cruiser, police interceptor, patrol car, cop car, prowl car, squad car, radio car, or radio motor patrol (RMP)) is a ground vehicle used by the police for transportation during patrols and to enable them to respond to incidents and chases.

What is the biggest police force in the world? ›

China. China has the highest number of police officers in the world, standing at about 1.6 million officers in the country's police force.

Which country is most trusted? ›

These countries are viewed as the most trustworthy in the world.
  • Switzerland. #1 in Trustworthy. ...
  • Sweden. #2 in Trustworthy. ...
  • Canada. #3 in Trustworthy. ...
  • Denmark. #4 in Trustworthy. ...
  • Norway. #5 in Trustworthy. ...
  • Finland. ...
  • Australia. ...
  • Netherlands.

What countries have no government? ›

  • Canada. Northwest Territories. Nunavut. ...
  • United Kingdom. Falkland Islands. Guernsey - Political parties exist and contest elections, however, none have ever won over an independent candidate. ...
  • Australia. Christmas Island. ...
  • New Zealand. Niue. ...
  • United States. Nebraska - The Nebraska Legislature is non-partisan.

Which country has best economy? ›

GDP by Country
#CountryGDP (abbrev.)
1United States$19.485 trillion
2China$12.238 trillion
3Japan$4.872 trillion
4Germany$3.693 trillion
56 more rows

How corrupt is Canada? ›

On Transparency International's 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, Canada scored 74 on a scale from 0 ("highly corrupt") to 100 ("highly clean"). This score continues a slow decline from Canada's 2012 score of 84. For comparison, the global average score in 2021 was 43.

Is Ireland a corrupt country? ›

Transparency International's 2017 Corruption Perception Index ranks the country 19th place out of 180 countries.

How corrupt is Australia? ›

Australia's score of 73 in the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index remains well above the global average score of 43 and ranks the country at 18th of the 180 countries in that year's Index. Australia's nearest neighbour New Zealand scored 88 and was ranked 1st in the 2021 Index.

What are 3 types of police corruption? ›

Eight types of police corruption are delineated: (l) Corruption of Authority, (2) Kickbacks, (3) Op- portunistic Theft, (4) Shakedowns, (5) Protection of Illegal Activities, (6) The Fix, (7) Direct Criminal Activities, and (8) Internal Payoffs.

What are the three main theories of police corruption? ›

First, a corrupt act is a crime. Second, police corruption detracts from the integrity of the police and tarnishes the public image of law enforcement. Third, corruption protects other criminal activity such as drug dealing and prostitution.

What are the different types of police corruption quizlet? ›

Terms in this set (12)
  • Grass Eaters. Occasionally engage in illegal activities -- small favors, gifts, money.
  • Meat Eaters. Officers who actively seek illegal activity while on duty.
  • Bribery. Accepting cash or gifts.
  • Chiseling. Demanding discounts or free food/admission.
  • Extortion. ...
  • Favoritism. ...
  • Mooching. ...
  • Perjury.

What are the types of police corruption listed in your text? ›

The most common forms of corruption were making false reports and committing perjury, protecting illegal gambling, theft of drugs on the street, theft of seized property, receiving discounts on purchases, and selling informa- tion about police operations.

What is police corruption called? ›

Police corruption is a form of police misconduct in which law enforcement officers end up breaking their political contract and abuse their power for personal gain. This type of corruption may involve one or a group of officers.

What are some examples of police corruption? ›

Examples of police misconduct include police brutality, dishonesty, fraud, coercion, torture to force confessions, abuse of authority, and sexual assault, including the demand for sexual favors in exchange for leniency. Any of these actions can increase the likelihood of a wrongful conviction.

Which would be an example of police corruption? ›

Police misconduct may involve witness tampering, police brutality, or malicious prosecution. Other examples of police misconduct include false arrest, assault, tampering with evidence, theft, coerced confessions, and many other actions.

What are the main causes of police corruption? ›

What are the Main Causes of Police Corruption?
  • Inadequate Training.
  • Lack of Prosecution and Accountability.
  • The Stress of the Job and Entitlement.
  • Individuals Do Not Have the Right to Bring a Lawsuit.
  • Private Litigation Against Corrupt Police Officers is Challenging.
  • Have You Been the Victim of Police Corruption?
Nov 16, 2021

What are the types of corruption? ›

  • Bribery.
  • Embezzlement, theft and fraud.
  • Graft.
  • Extortion and blackmail.
  • Influence peddling.
  • Networking.
  • Abuse of discretion.
  • Favoritism, nepotism and clientelism.

Which theory of police corruption is the most popular explanation of police corruption? ›

The most popular explanation of police corruption is the so-called “rotten apple” theory. This is appealing because it: emphasizes the failings of individuals, provides convenient scapegoats, and avoids dealing with difficult issues.

What are the social structural explanations of police corruption? ›

The social structural explanations theories analyze how criminal law, cultural conflict, and political culture influence police officers' decisions to enforce certain laws and engage in corruption.

Which type of police misconduct would a meat eater engage in? ›

Meat eater: A police officer who engages in serious corruption (e.g., protect- ing drug dealers or smugglers, armed robbery) that is planned or proactive.

What is the most common type of corruption? ›

Bribes, large or small, are the most well-recognised type of corruption, but other forms also exist. Consider nepotism or cronyism, practices where officials extend preferential treatment – such as access to jobs, or other resources and services – to their family members, or friends and associates.

How many elements are used to define police corruption? ›

21) classified diverse types of police corruption according to five dimensions: act and actors involved, nature of norms violated, degree of peer group support, required degree of deviant organiza- tion, and departmental reaction.

What is the difference between police corruption and police misconduct? ›

Common forms of misconduct are excessive use of physical or Deadly Force, discriminatory arrest, physical or verbal harassment, and selective enforcement of the law. Police corruption is the abuse of police authority for personal gain.


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