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Study gives police high marks for integrity

A police officer investigating a burglary takes a watch from a smashed display case. At the station, he reports it as stolen during the crime.

That would not happen in the St. Petersburg Police Department, according to results of a survey by a team of criminologists at the University of Delaware.

And if it did, officers would report the misconduct.

"Not only do officers say they believe misconduct is wrong, but they're willing to report they endorse severe discipline," said Carl B. Klockars, the professor who coordinated the survey answered by 3,235 police officers from 30 departments around the country.

The survey asked officers to answer questions in 11 scenarios describing police misconduct. The goal was to measure integrity. The survey, which cost about $50,000, was financed by the National Institute of Justice, an arm of the Department of Justice.

Because of its high marks, the St. Petersburg department, which Klockars described as "an agency of exemplary integrity," was selected as one of three departments for a $800,000 study to be conducted over the next two years. The results of the upcoming study, Klockars said, will teach other departments how to achieve high standards of integrity.

Klockars declined to identify the other cities that participated in the survey. He also declined to detail why St. Petersburg may have ranked the way it did.

He said other cities had alarming results, showing that the "code of silence" may be out of control.

"You could shoot somebody in the police department in broad daylight, and no one would say a word," Klockars said.