The film Untouchables, released in 1987 epitomizes the struggle between good and evil in the city of Chicago in the 1930s. Set in a historical setting right after the infamous prohibition law the film illustrates how corruption engulfs all the parts of the government system and gangsters like Al Capone rises and thrives. Until we see the emergence of Eliot Ness, posing as a super hero with rock hard sense of honesty and attempts to cleanse the city of Capone. After much hardship and loss of lives Eliot is successful to put an end to Capone and puts him behind bars.
However throughout the film it attempts to portray the flaws within the government system itself exposing rampant corruption within the police itself as well as the other bodies of the government. What gradually emerges is the corruption within the judiciary, postal services and consequent helplessness of the general public. The film also portrays how the prohibition law itself was a poorly designed law that leads to such widespread lawlessness. We see how negative perception and motivation forces honest officer like Eliot gradually loses his sense of conscientiousness and starts to behave like a god rather than an ideal officer of law.
The reasons identified are poorly designed legislation, lack of leadership and coordination amongst the different government bodies, lack of positive motivation amongst the officials, absence of any training for special units like the untouchables. Recommendation to remedy the issues above include better process from the side of the government before enacting any legislation, measure the job satisfaction levels and design effective incentive system for the police force itself, establishing accountability for special officers like Eliot, arrange training programs for special units like the Untouchables.
I. Problem Statement (Major Issues, Symptoms and Root Causes, Short term and long term) There is a lack of a positive team spirit between the police force and the team of Untouchables, although they are working for the same common goal to decrease lawlessness and bring an end to bootlegging. The police force are neither conscientious of their own actions nor are they agreeable to the actions of a team member! This has resulted because of an inability by the force to produce valued outcomes and they consequently treat any attempt by others to reform the organization with contempt.
One of the major issues facing the ‘Untouchables’ is a gradual loss of integrity which is a result of their lack of faith in the judiciary. Eliot Ness, the protagonist of the movie and so also the veteran cop Malone have become frustrated with the inefficient and corrupt police system that is unable to bring an end to the menace of Capone. In the absence of proper organizational policies that reinforce faith in the rule of law, the team of Untouchables loses its integrity in bits and pieces to do whatever it can to meet its end goal.
Moreover, the cops have not been acting as role models for the law of prohibition that they are trying to enforce. There is a lack of a sense of moral responsibility and respect for the law amongst the enforcers of law. This has so happened out of their lack of faith in the rules of the land. Consequently, there is widespread corruption in the police department which is reflected by their indifferent attitude towards the activities of Capone. This is more out of fear of the might of Capone, the pseudo Mayor of Chicago than because of the greed for money.
It is the system of the police department that appears to make the cops corrupt than society itself. Moreover, the judiciary system is supposed to be an organization, which should strictly adhere to the law. However corruption is seen to be rampant in the judiciary under the influence of the power and money of Capone. Greed for money and a team of untrustworthy jury members resulted in the initial meltdown of the judicial system during the trial of Capone!
Corruption in the police force appears to be short term problems arising because of a lack of faith in the prohibition law and also because of the power and might of Capone. If prohibition was to be lifted and the gangster Capone put behind bars, it would result in drastic improvements and be a driver for change in the police force. However, the lack of team spirit in the police force loss of integrity of the Untouchables, and corruption in the judiciary seem to be long term problems that need to be handled with sufficient planning. II.
Causes of the Problem Analysis of Major Issues, Application of theories and models in analysis, Support analysis with references to the film) There is low cohesion amongst the officers of the police force which has resulted in poor team spirit. They are not open to joining forces with the Untouchables since they do not believe in the norms of the government. Lieutenant Alderson of the flying squad is seen mocking Ness in front of the Chief of police after the goof up in the heist. They don’t consider him to be part of the team and don’t have faith in his idea and vision.
Moreover, one of the cops pins up the newspaper headline of `Crusader cop busts out` on the door of Ness’ room. This action by the police department reflects their inherent pessimism in supporting a crusader. The lack of support to the team of Untouchables is also evident when the Chief of police advices Malone (at the scene of the crime in the lift) to take a break from work and not get involved further in hunting Capone’s men. These are glaring examples of the lack of unity in the police force and their unwillingness to be agreeable to the group of Untouchables and extend cooperation.
Failure of seizing the actual supply of booze has resulted in reduction in team cohesiveness. There is a lot of interdependence required between the group of untouchables and the police force when they join hands together. However, a climate of tension and disagreement exists between the two groups because of differing views on the goals of law enforcement! A lack of cohesiveness amongst them results in low productivity which is reflected in the unsuccessful raids initially and also by the easy escape of the killer after he kills Wallace and the witness in the elevator.
The team of Untouchables gradually loses its integrity out of a loss of faith in the judiciary and rule of law. This is observed in the periodic exhibitions of reckless behaviour by Malone and Ness. When the hostage refuses to divulge information about the ledger, Malone becomes frustrated and instead of following the law, he shoots a dead body in a ghastly way to invoke fear in the hostage. As per police rules of the time, this was unacceptable as is also conveyed by the Canadian police officer.
Moreover, Eliot goes on to push Nitti from the roof of the courthouse when he can’t stand to hear him mocking the death of his beloved colleague Malone. We witness a classic example of behaviour modification, as we see the law abiding police officer Ness turn into a murderer after committing a crime of passion. Moreover, the team member Stone turns a blind eye to the cause of Nitti’s death and doesn’t probe Ness to understand the cause of death. Soon after this incident, Ness falsely accuses the judge of taking bribe from Capone and forces him to switch juries.
At this point we see how Eliot’s past behaviour as a conscientious police officer takes a turn and he begins to exhibit traits of a shrewd and cunning bandit cop. During a walk down the road, Malone and Eliot discuss the fact that a cop had leaked information on the raid to Capone. They share the dismay that corruption is widely rampant in the police force. The fact that a cop gets corrupted by the system is reinforced when the Untouchables look for a new recruit from the training camp and not from an existing set of pool of officers.
Malone uses the metaphor of finding a good apple. He tells Ness – “If you’re afraid of getting a rotten apple, don’t go to the barrel. Get it off the tree”. Moreover, the ledger of the bookkeeper contains records of cash disbursement to city officials which includes police officers. This is revealed in the court trial when the prosecution lawyer interrogates the book keeper. Even when the Chief of police sees his own fellow officer lying dead on the path in front of the lift and sees the actual killer in the cop’s uniform walk away, he doesn’t take any action.
This shows that even the top brass of the police is corrupt and is so fearful of Capone’s strength that they are unwilling to take action against him even when they see their own die. The fact that the Chief of police has been corrupt for a long time is revealed during his talk with Malone during their fight in the alley. But the conversation also reveals that the Chief of Police has been tipping information against Capone to Malone some times in the past but is afraid of his name coming out in the open. Though the chief might have some remote pint of conscience, it has been overshadowed by the fear of Capone!
It appears that corruption has risen primarily out of fear of the might of Capone than out of greed but which has however made the upholders of law lose their conscientiousness. This has resulted in the loss of the trait of organizational citizenship and no veteran officer other than Malone can be seen as a flag bearer of the rule of law. The goal of the judiciary system is to make sure justice is provided to every individual or organization within its constituency. It however becomes evident in the courtroom scene that the judiciary system hasn’t been doing its job.
It is also seen that the members of the jury, who were bribed by Al Capone’s men, greatly lack values. Values can be defined as a broad tendency to prefer certain states of affairs as compared to others. Al Capone has come into power mostly due to his ability to influence the right people (in this case the jury members). . The anticipation of healthy reinforcement (cash in this case) for following an unethical course of action, especially if no punishment is expected, promotes unethical actions. There being no apparent system to punish the jury if they are caught taking bribe, has in effect promoted corruption inside the jury.
III. Decision Criteria and Alternative Solutions (Solutions (+criteria used to select them), Alternate solution, Pros/Cons of each solution (with respect to criteria)) Poor Team Spirit Having mentors in the police department to guide new recruits will help ensure that young officers don’t get carried away by the immediate power they receive on becoming a police officer. Officers who are as experienced and honest like Malone can be promoted to be mentors who monitor the development of young groups of officers like Stone and Williamson who were the best shooters at the academy.
However, one needs to ensure that only the truly honest officers who pass a rigorous test of character be promoted to become mentors. The threat of a corrupt officer assuming such a role also remains a possibility if he is able to bend the system to become the mentor. Alternately, a change in organizational values which award the officer for upholding the law and encourage information sharing amongst different departments of the police force shall help improve team spirit. This can be implemented immediately at no extra cost by having a new police chief take over the Chicago police force.
The Chief of Police needs to have strong credentials and a good moral character. The task of deciding who can be the best judge of moral character however remains! Loss of Integrity We see that there is gradual loss of professionalism in the approach of the ‘Untouchables’. Team members have different and opposing ideas to handle the same situation which results in moments of conflict. This is observed when Ness pulls back Malone when he begins to beat up the hostage when he refuses to answer their questions.
The members of the group of Untouchables have all come from different departments and roles. A unit like that needs to be trained and oriented to common shared values and behaviour that are aligned with the rules of law. Such a program needs to be holistic and one that does not waiver from the importance of ethical values in policing. .An integrated training program will help the members stay focused on the expected roles and responsibilities and shall help prevent the loss of integrity and conscientiousness as observed with the team of Untouchables.
Though the untouchables are not affected by greed, they have become prey to moral corruption. Alternately, the police force or the treasury department can design an incentive package that links performance, team and individual goals. This shall help ensure that rewards are commensurate with the risks and responsibilities of the job at hand. Such type of an incentive system will help motivate teams like the Untouchables to perform conscientiously and honestly in the face of extreme challenges; and it shall help sustain such teams over a longer period.
However, it needs to be ensured that the packages are designed independently and objectively without any involvement of the police officers themselves; because any element of bias in the design shall defeat the purpose of such a package. Corruption in the Police force The achievement by Ness and his team in convicting Capone at the end of the movie promises to re-instil the moral fibre in the police force and make them start respecting the law. Corruption shall consequently decrease once the feeling of respect develops for the work one is doing.
Moreover, the root cause of this problem was the lack of faith in the law itself which in the garb of reducing corruption and lawlessness in society was only increasing it! Hence the decision by the Chicago state to repeal the prohibition law as stated towards the end of the movie, might readily work to rebuild the respect for law. This is expected because the new law is favoured by a majority of the people of Chicago, including Ness. Consequently it shall help build the trait of organizational citizenship amongst the upholders of law! This change promises to reduce corruption and ring an end to the rule of gangsters involved in bootlegging. However, there is also a possibility that ‘legal drinking’ on the streets might contribute to the perception of lawlessness. Corruption in the judiciary Motivation theories suggest that money, from the right source, can be a motivator to the extent that it satisfies a variety of needs, is highly valiant, and it is clearly tied to performance. If the judiciary system paid some money to the jury members for performing their tasks honestly and diligently (positive reinforcement), this issue could be resolved.
However, one needs to ensure that along with the payment of money, the jury members must be made aware about the highly important and respected nature of their job. Any form of complicity in their work must lead to grievous consequences in the form of negative reinforcements. The fact that a strong leader, in this case the judge, has power to change a wrong course of action is a positive sign. So alternately, the judge could be allowed to form a jury with a set of respected and trustworthy people in society. This way a proper organizational structure could be maintained with the right kind of people at the right places!
IV. Recommended Solution, Implementation and Justification (Final Solution – Who, What, When, How; Address problems and causes identified previously; Contingency Plan; Use models to explain about the final solution – Why? Why the best? (Why it would work? )) Poor Team Spirit – Recommended Solution: The police force is high on collectivism with unequal power distribution. In such kind of an organizational structure, it is necessary to have mediators or facilitators to maintain a good cohesive environment between the different hierarchical levels of the organization as well as the inter-departmental units!
To implement this system, one can immediately go about identifying people who are primarily conscientious and open to experience and can make good mentors. Hence, to achieve high productivity in an interdependent organization such as the police force, it is necessary to appoint and promote members who have good mentoring skills and can develop good team spirit between the different departmental officers. This shall help in information sharing amongst the various units and develop strong bonds between fellow officers. Conflicts will be easily resolved and officers would be motivated to perform better.
And achieving success as a team will further help the police force increase cohesiveness. The following graph shows the present level and desired level of cohesiveness between the Police force and the team of Untouchables. Poor Team Spirit – Contingency Plan A contingency plan could be to immediately have a reorientation of values in the police force. And this could be initiated by having a change in the top spot. A new Chief of Police with an honest background could be appointed who might initiate this process of change in the organization.
High cohesiveness can be achieved in an organization having a huge size and great diversity like the police force by having a strong leader. Lack of Integrity – Recommended Solution: Actually it has got to do with motivation. Eliot and his team needs to be motivated properly by providing all the legal and resource support to prevent this type of frustration to be accumulated. Hence we need more positive motivators from him employers i. e. Government as well as consistent organizational policies.
Motivation – all the group members exhibit an internal locus of control, meaning they find motivation internally by doing a good deed, serving justice. However the press accolades sometimes serves them as a source of external motivation from time to time too. Here we see two different types of motivators in the case of the Chicago police. One is positively reinforced as they are paid money from time to time for assisting Capone. However there is also negative reinforcement in the form of the terror of Capone which prompts the Chicago police not to deter him from his illegal activities.