Ethics In Law Enforcement Essay

1622 words - 7 pages

In this country we are seeing an increase in ethical violations in the field of law enforcement. I will go into detail about some of the main ethical issues we are seeing today and what can be done to prevent such acts from happening. When one officer is being unethical it has a huge effect on how the public views law enforcement as a whole. Many officers go undetected for a long time before getting caught, but an officer committing ethical violations will have their day it’s just a matter of time. In order to improve this growing problem we must first understand why there is such a problem in the field of law enforcement.
Police “officers work and live in a constantly changing environment in which they are exposed to a myriad of ethical conflicts. When either unprepared or unaware, police officers are more likely to “go with the flow” than they would be if they were adequately prepared to face potentially ethical risks.” (Gilmartin & Harris, 1998) Most ethical violations are committed because the officer is exposed to a situation in which he was inadequately prepared. The lack of time to think about the situation before committing an ethical violation has detrimental life changing consequences. Police work can be very exciting and very rewarding but if not properly prepared and trained an officer can easily find himself involved in an ethical violation. Understanding the issues and being mentally prepared will help police officers become more responsible and make better judgments when faced with a tempting situation.
When a new recruit first starts, they are typically motivated and highly driven to make a difference in their community. Over time some recruits become too involved with their work, letting it consume their entire life, leaving little to no time for non-working activities. This can lead to a multitude of problems for a new recruit and their family. At some point they start to think of themselves as a victim, blaming society for their problems. Over-identification and over-investment can cause people to link their sense of self to their police role. While this builds camaraderie, it can also cause police officers to eventually resent the job they once loved. While officers have absolute control over their own professionalism and integrity, the rest of their police role is controlled by someone else. Department rules, procedures, policies, budget, assignments, and many other day-to-day and long-term activities are controlled by the chief, commanders, supervisors, prosecuting attorneys, the criminal justice system, laws, the courts, politicians, etc. Officers who over-identify with the job soon experience a loss of control over other aspects of their lives. Professional over-investment, coupled with a loss of personal control, puts officers at serious risk, a risk that in some ways is more dangerous than the physical risks they face on the street. It doesn't matter how guilty you are, but how slick your lawyer is, can become the...

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