There will be many occasions when the officers’ ethics will be tested and it depends on the officers not to let their own ethics to become weak throughout his career. Many officers become caught in situations in which they have to make ethical decision to make and it again depends on the ethics of that officer whether he or she is making the right decision or not. And this decision play a vital role and have severe impact on both of his official and personal life.
By the nature of the job of law enforcement one can conclude that there are many occasions when a police officer can face up to with a moral dilemma. The question is when will an officer be faced with one. Throughout an officer career He has referred to the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics which is a code that represents everything that a police officer should be. This code was established by the Peace Officer’s Research Association of California in 1956 and since then has made its way throughout the country to Police departments and its officers. Many department mission statement have been derived from the very words that appear on the code of ethics. This code of ethics is as follows:
Law enforcement code of ethics:
”As a Law Enforcement Officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all men to liberty, equality, and justice. I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn, or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my department.
Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or that is confided to me in my official capacity will be kept secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.
I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities, or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities. I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of the police service. I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen profession.” (1)
DUTIES AND STANDARDS OF CONDUCT OF A POLICE OFFICER:
A police officer must act in such a manner as to preserve the confidence and consideration that his duties require. Here are some responsibilities on the police shoulder which they should be careful about and try their best to do well which are: A police officer must not:
1) use obscene, blasphemous or abusive language;
2) fail or refuse to produce official identification when any person asks him to do so;
3) fail to carry prescribed identification in his direct relations with the public;
4) conduct acts or use injurious language based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religious or political convictions, language, age, social condition, civil status, pregnancy, ethnic or national origin;
5) be disrespectful or impolite towards any person
6). A police office must avoid any term of abuse of authority in his relations with the public. A police officer must not: use greater force than is necessary to accomplish what is required or permitted; make threats, intimidate or harass; knowingly bring a charge against any person without ground; abuse his authority in order to obtain a statement ; detain any person who is not under arrest in order to interrogate him
7). A police officer must perform his duties with integrity. A police officer must not: maliciously damage or destroy property belonging to any person; illegally dispose of property belonging to any person; knowingly file a false or inaccurate report or recommendation concerning any person
8). A police officer must respect the rights of any person in his custody and avoid any indulgence towards that person. A police officer must not: be negligent or lack concern regarding the health or safety of a person in his custody; except when necessary, search a person of the opposite sex, be present during the searching of such a person, or have a person in his custody searched by a person of the opposite sex; interfere in communications between a person in custody and that person’s attorney; use greater force than necessary on a person in his custody
9). A police officer must use judgment and exercise care in using a weapon or other piece of equipment (1). A police officer must not show, handle or point a weapon without justification.”(2).
The two most ignored areas of police work are:
- code of ethics
- oath of office.
These two documents are the most important issues of truth and honesty that a police department has with the community which the this department serves. Most police agencies have neglected these issues and do not fully understand the impact they have on the community they serve. Studies have shown the distrust the public has with several different professions, the police professions is one of the important one of them. This problem can be corrected by the police departments if they perform a better job and training and educating the officers on the Code of Ethics and the Police Oath of office. People claim that police department usually take corruption when dealing with criminals Corruption is a subtype of immorality, and all corrupt actions are a subtype of immoral action. However, not all immorality is corruption, and not all immoral acts are corrupt acts. For example, minor lawbreaking by a police officer might count as immoral without being an act of corruption. Also, negligent acts are sometimes immoral, but not necessarily corrupt. Corrupt acts have a number of properties that other immoral actions do not possess, such as
1. corruption involves demonstration of a regular character or habit on the part of the officer;
2. corruption exists when the law is seen as hopelessly inadequate and incurable, such as when guilty offenders go unpunished; and
3. corruption is driven by narrow, personal or collective self-interest, such as the financial gain of a group of employees or the career advancement of employees.
A practical example of corruption in police department is Pakistani police when they get an Afghan refugee or Afghan national in Pakistan, Even the refugee will be having the refugee card given by government of Pakistan, the police will demand them money or sending them to jail. So the refugee become obliged to give corruption to police in order to not go to jail. Even if the Afghan national have passport with visa, still the police take money from them. Or if the person have nothing with him, neither the refugee card nor passport then he is gone or he has to pay a big amount to police to let him go. Threats, intimidation, verbal abuse, harassment, wrongful detainment, these are just a few of the ways in which people claim to have been mistreated by police officers and they don’t trust them. But how can you be sure that an officer has not overstepped his or her boundaries? The best answer to this question is, of course, to consult the Code of Ethics of police officers. A common persuasion an officer can find throughout their career in law enforcement money, especially when a large number of officers feel unsatisfied just because that they are poorly paid and they think they deserve a higher rate of reward. An example will illustrate it in a better way. “In September 2003 a former Orlando police officer was arrested for stealing nearly $60,000 meant to help solve Crime line cases. Charlie Worrell stole the money and using it for child support, his credit card payments and his car. The money was supposed to be used to pay informants to turn in criminals. (WKMG. 2003)” (3).
These kinds of problems unfortunately are not uncommon even today when there are more professional qualified group of officers on the streets. Due to this being a common temptation and because there are many situations when officers will be dealing with money, therefore ethics training and awareness becomes much more important. Under ethics training officers are commonly quizzed on scenario cases to determine what consequences could result. The following scenario would be a common example pertaining to police ethics.
An officer right out of the academy arrived at a welfare check call. The reason for the call is to check on an elderly man whose neighbors had not heard from him since many days. Upon entry into the house the officers finds the elderly man dead on the floor. While looking around the residence the officer also located $2000 in cash. The question in the scenario is , would the officer take the money? Given the situation where you have an elderly man who lives alone and the fact that you are alone. Quiet obviously during ethics training an officer would certainly say no to this question.
The consequences of if the officer gets away with taking the money will be many. Once an officer behaves in this manner and lets their ethics and morals weaken, they will open a way for themselves for further temptations in the future.
In addition to that the officer is now damaged in terms of honesty and that officer from that point forward does not have a shred of credibility. Officers do not have much to rely on but their word in many cases. There are many occasions in which it will be the officers opinion which is trusted. This happens in essentially every cases where there are just two people involved, the officer and the accused. An example would be traffic enforcement when the majority of the time only the officer and the other party are witness to the incident. Later on in court the officer’s word is accepted as the truth. Those would even show a dim weakness in morals, and ethics have no business in police work as their words are trusted by so many others as well. If an officer does not have their honesty, they have nothing.
Ethical and moral decisions are a big part of the job a police officer has. The officer will likely be faced with decision of this nature over and over again through their career. In most cases the decision the that officer makes will either make or break them as an officer and the decision they make will either strengthen or weaken their ethicall values. Fortunately over the past several years, the job of policing has become more professionalized and requirement to hold the job as a police officers have been increased. Special attention is also being placed in the area of ethics training and this is resulting in the majority of officers getting some form of this training throughout there career. The results of these efforts unfortunately have not been able to weed out all of the bad apples in the field, but these steps have served to make the officers on the streets more aware of the issue of morals and ethics. This training as shown to be very valuable to the officer, the department and the community the police have sworn to protect.
(1). Law Enforcement Ethics: A Continuum of Compromise
(2). by JACQUIE CHARLTON
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