As a rookie, my dad was a beat cop in NYC in the 1970’s. He said corruption was so engrained that you couldn’t avoid it. If you walked into a business they’d start handing you goods, like it’s a protection racket, and if you didn’t take it they’d get nervous and think you were bargaining for more.
He couldn’t take it, so he transferred to the Emergency Service Unit (SWAT team), which gets called into special situations and didn’t have that dynamic.
Ten years in corrections so this may not be the angle you want, but it has some similar truths. Law enforcement is generally going to attract a lot of alpha personalities and also a lot of people who were pushed around and want to empower themselves. You then get the rest sprinkled in.
The alphas who want to solve everything with brute force and subvert their agency’s policies and the law do so by…being alphas and getting other Officers who otherwise would not behave this way on their own to lie on their behalf.
You now have one or two A types with a gang of admirers running things, because combined they out number the guy who is just doing his job. You have leadership who isn’t interested as long as the paperwork lines up to protect from lawsuits and is probably an A type themselves.
The honest answer to how I dealt with this? I compromised my integrity for years. Years of complicity that still bother me even after I’ve left the job. Then I got trainer certification, seniority and supervisor roles and I started teaching every new body coming through the door that if they came here to bounce someone’s face off a wall they needed to find a new job.
That middle personality doesn’t seem to need to find a group. I don’t think we naturally gravitate towards one extreme or another, so I created an “us vs them” mentality from day one for new Officers. The bogeyman for them wasn’t the inmate, it was the big dude wearing the same uniform as you that was going to make you stress out every night.
And it’s true. I don’t know who else can relate but 99.9% of what made my life miserable at work were coworkers. I actually liked inmates and hated Officers by the time I was done.
Not proud of my answer but it’s probably pretty common. You just have to wait it out if you want to keep your job.