Ethical Law Enforcement Essay
I chose this subject because I feel that before embarking on a career in law enforcement it is fundamental to understand how to play by the book without getting ostracized by ones peers. The purpose of this paper is to outline proper behavior while paying attention to factors that will effectively limit corruption. The law enforcement oath of honor is as follows. “On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character, or the public trust.
I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions. I will always uphold the constitution my community and the agency I serve. ” On a daily basis police officers risk their lives to protect citizens and defend liberty. It is a noble and selfless occupation that makes a difference in the quality of life. Before taking the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor it is important to comprehend its meaning.
Honor, means your word is given as a guarantee, Betray is breaking faith with the public trust, Badge is your symbol of office, Integrity is adhering to the same code of conduct in private life and public duty, Character is distinguishing qualities of an individual, Public Trust is the faith of those you serve that your conduct will be ethical, Courage is strength against danger fear and non-ethical pressure, Accountability You answer to the office of your oath and are responsible to it, and Community is the jurisdiction of the office and the citizens within it (“International Association of Chiefs of Police”).
Officers are public servants who have authority over others and make decisions that contribute to public welfare. We expect them to wield this power without favor or prejudice. As a public servant ones life will be judged by the community. There is a higher degree of scrutiny towards activities taken in the officer’s private life (Delattre, Edwin). Article nine of the IACP Canon of Police Ethics states that officers should refuse gratuities. Any gift or free offers that are given for a reason and to accept it is an act of corruption. Acceptance of a gift gives the appearance of accepting a bribe.
The public may view this as influence on the actions of the public servant. Officers must enforce the law with equality maintaining the integrity of the office. Loyalty should be to the truth the law and the public; Even if this means reporting the unethical actions of another officer (Hall). Noble cause corruption is committed when officers care too much about their work. This is the Dirty Harry Dilemma in which officers commit corruption to take bad guys off the street. Not everything in policing is black and white. There are many grey areas.
Dirty Harry does not play by the rules and as a result of this bad guys get off the hook. False and coerced confessions lead to wrongful convictions. The power of self is showing others correct morals and ethics through right behavior through fair play honesty and perseverance. The end does not justify the means in policing (Michael and John 56- 126). Noble Cause Corruption can lead to unethical interrogation techniques. Physical coercion is illegal unethical and ineffective. False and Coerced confessions lead to wrongful convictions.
In Miranda v Arizona (1966), the U. S. Supreme Court held in a majority decision that statements made by a defendant may only be used by prosecution only if the person was duly informed of the right to consult with an attorney prior to questioning. Miranda rights may be circumvented through unethical practices and any information gained may not be admissible as evidence. Lying on a search warrant affidavit such as lying about an investigation into the reports of a confidential informant can have tragic results. Planting or manufacturing evidence can end in otherwise solid cases failing to get a conviction by creating reasonable doubt (Roger and Geoffrey 322 – 324).
In undercover investigations entrapment occurs when a person commits an illegal act due to police encouragement or enticement. Entrapment is a legal defense in the court room. There is no entrapment when law enforcement merely provides an opportunity to commit a crime. This is not the same as persuading them to commit a crime. The subjective and objective tests are used to determine whether entrapment has taken place. The subjective test determines the defendant’s state of mind such as not having a predisposition to commit a crime.
The objective test refers to governmental conduct for example when officers cause a normally law abiding citizen to commit a crime. If an undercover officer goes to a methadone clinic or Narcotics Anonymous meeting and pretends to befriend someone for the purpose of coaxing them to commit a crime entrapment is committed (Joyce 147). The Thin Blue Line represents the dilemma between loyalty to friends and exposing non ethical offending officer actions. According to Aristotle when a friend becomes a scoundrel a moral individual cannot stand by and do nothing.
However, the informal practice of punishing whistle blowers is a distressing aspect of police culture. Instead of rewarding officers who expose wrong doing they are often reprimanded. Administrative sanctions, transfers to undesirable posts and poor performance reports may result from crossing the thin blue line. (Joyce 122) Officers have the legal right to use the minimum amount of necessary force in interactions with suspects. This includes lethal use of force when it is warranted. This is only an ethical issue when excessive force is used.
This is not a simple matter of Rodney King style beatings. Officers who have good intentions can use excessive force through lack of sufficient training resulting in death and lawsuits. For example while a choke hold may help get control of a combatant. Properly applied both carotid arteries are pressed resulting in a black out. Improperly applied the wind pipe may be crushed resulting in death. Sitting upon handcuffed suspects back may seem like a good way to keep them from running off again. However excessive pressure to the back can compress the lungs causing a death known as burking.
The presence of drugs or alcohol increases a suspects willingness to resist arrest while reducing the amount of pain that they feel. Officers should receive training and understand these risks. (Adrian , Graham, and Alan) There are different types and dimensions of police corruption. Corruption of authority is when an officer receives material gain by virtue of position. Such as freebies. Kickbacks are the receiving of money goods or services for giving businesses referrals. Opportunistic theft is stealing from traffic accident victims or arrestees and the bodies of dead citizens.
Shakedowns are the acceptance of a bribe for not processing a criminal violation or complaint. Protection of illegal activities is providing police protection for persons who engage in illegal activities such as drugs, prostitution, and pornography. The fix is the act of losing traffic tickets or undermining criminal proceedings or investigations. Direct criminal activities occur when an officer commits crime for the purpose of personal gain. Internal payoffs are prerogatives such as scheduling holidays and promotions that are bartered bought and sold. Flaking or padding is planting or adding evidence.
Four strategies may be implemented to combat corruption. Human resource management involves recruitment practices training and ethics. Anti-corruption policies can be utilized by police forces adopting ethical codes of conduct. Codes serve a reminder of what is expected. Codes provide a common vocabulary for discussion of cases. The emotional language may help inspire officers to do more than they would otherwise. Internal controls consist of preventive control through tight supervision. Internal accountability is accomplished through holding policy managers responsible for the conduct of their staff.
Punitive control policies are practical applications of deterrence. Detection is gained through police officers, citizens and probing police activity. External environment and external controls refer to changing the environment to tackle corruption. Considerable pressure is placed on police agencies to become corrupt from the organizational environment. The task environment and the political environment are the major environmental elements posing a threat. Changes to enforcement policies may be effective in risk reducing parts of the task environment while not impacting the environment itself.
Encouraging the public to come forward and report corruption or suspicions may help with preventive control. The greatest obstacle to reforming a police department is the existence of a corrupt police environment. Main links between politics and police corruption need to be severed. (Tim 4-44) Officers’ primary responsibilities are to serve the community while safeguarding property and lives. Protecting the innocent and keep the peace while ensuring liberty equality and justice for all. The philosophy of minimalism says that the best approach to law enforcement is utilizing the least intrusive action.
This means selecting the option that solves the problem while doing the least amount of harm. Officers are responsible for their own professional conduct. Such as police deviance. Including lying, brutality, theft, sexual misconduct, abuse of authority, deliberate inefficiency and alcohol and drug use. Police conduct directly determines the publics’ perception of law enforcement. Ethics and behavior are determined by accountability. The greater an officer’s ability to avoid accountability reflects directly the greater the amount of police misconduct.
Bad cops exist because good cops protect them. Police subculture can have a corrosive influence. Collective experience may be emphasized over procedure and training. Group loyalty is emphasized over duty and is built on distrust of outsiders. Officers must make it clear to coworkers that improper behaviors will not be tolerated in their presence. Officers must intervene quickly to stop improper conduct from fellow officers. The expectations of supervisors must be made clear and subordinates must be held accountable for behavior.
Supervisors must be held accountable for the behavior of officers under their supervision. Police departments have as much misbehavior as they are willing to tolerate. Internal affairs can only be as effective as the Police Chief wants it to be. (Richard 1-55) In the absence of a valid public interest travelers on public roads are privileged to have free passage. A fishing expedition is not a legitimate reason to pull someone over. Officers must have a reason to believe that the person stopped has or is violating the law and that the violation is serious enough to warrant a stop.
Patrol officers have the duty to ensure the roads remain free safe and accessible. The decision to pursue overrides the privilege of free passage. The decision to engage in a high pursuit chase poses a danger to life and limb. Officers need to take into account danger posed to the occupants of the vehicle pursued. The danger posed to innocent bystanders and other vehicles and the danger posed to the officers themselves. A person’s failure to stop at a stop sign may not warrant a high speed chase through the center of town during rush hour due to the danger posed to the public.
There are factors that may not be readily evident as to why the person did not stop. For example as he may be an illegal immigrant and feel that if he pulls over he will be persecuted and deported. The patrol officer therefore has some reason to engage in high speed chases only when a serious enough offense has been committed to warrant the danger to which exists to the fleeing suspect as well as the public. (John ) In conclusion a brief summary of subject matter covered. The law enforcement code of honor is a code and a vocabulary that helps ensure cases are handled in a proper fashion.
Public scrutiny of public officials means that we can expect the public to put us under a microscope so our personal lives should be in accordance to expected standards of living. Article nine of the IACP Canon of Police Ethics which states that loyalty should be to the truth and the public. I wrote about noble cause corruption because John Wayne and Batman would probably not make good police officers. Entrapment is something I felt a need to discuss because usually it’s the first thing suspects in a drug might scream to get out of the infraction.
The thin blue line is an issue that resulted in me choosing this topic because of a desire to play by the rules without alienating coworkers. After researching the subject I learned that it is a good idea to let coworkers know that you will not tolerate misconduct in your presence and that following the chain of command is better than going over people’s heads. Excessive use of force is somewhat troubling to me as it sometimes results in the death of a suspect. It is not a simple matter of a bad apple going overboard.
When tensions run high and the suspect is on drugs officers can accidentally and unintentionally inflict mortal harm. Various types of police corruption. Strategies that can be implemented to limit police corruption that can be effective for supervisors. Police conduct outlining basic rules to guard against deviance. The ethics of high speed pursuit I feel is important because the danger posed to the public as well as the fact that someone might have a gun being held to their head or the possibility of a baby being in the car. Actions that have high mortality rates I feel deserve an extra dose of ethical conduct.