Police Ethics and Deviance
Ethics can be described as anything that relates to an individual’s rightness or wrongness of conduct. Ethics can also be described as one’s moral beliefs or an individual officer who abides by and enforces the laws rather than ignoring the laws under conditions that would require the police officer to make the right decision (Proctor, 1997).
Ethics play a major role in modern day policing. For an officer to be non ethical, it can have a detrimental effective not only on the individual officer, but also his or her partner and the police department for which they work. Any positive or negative action taken can have an effect that could last for days, weeks, months and sometimes years depending on the situation. Most of the time, a police officer’s positive ethics is only recognized for days whereas negative ethics can last an extremely long time and may take many years for the healing process to come to pass by individual members of the community.
Ethical standards in policing in most departments are based upon the amount of education and training an individual officer has had. Each officer is sworn to an oath to protect and serve all for whom he or she has been trained to protect. Department rules, policies, regulations and training have been created in order to help individual officers maintain a certain level of ethical standards that while working on duty. These guidelines are also designed to remind the officer therefore helping to avoid the potential of any unethical behavior. A police officer should always maintain a formal, well-mannered attitude toward all members of society even under stress.
Police corruption has been around since the very first days of policing. One of the best known types of corruption is when a police officer abuses his or her authority for self gain. Police corruption can be defined as any police officer or law enforcement agent who accepts money, merchandise or services for doing duties the officer is already required to do by law. If an officer accepts money or commodities to disregard unlawful actions and illicit substances from members of society, this too is considered police corruption. Basically anything obtained by an individual officer other than the officer’s weekly paycheck can be considered a form of corruption under certain circumstances. Let us not forget about police corruption that takes place within a police department, or by officers who become politically corrupt with high political figures in order to break through the glass ceiling to seek higher job positions (Farlex Inc, 2008).
Police misconduct has been a major concern since the early 1960’s and any police officers who abuse legal substances such as alcohol, illicit drugs such as cocaine, marijuana and so forth including any and all prescriptions drugs that are not intended for the individual who is taken them, is a type of police misconduct. Officer’s, who abuse drugs, place themselves, their partners and all members of society in danger, as a result of not being in the appropriate state of mind. Sexual assault is another form of police misconduct that is rare on occasion but has happened. This type of misconduct is known when an officer uses his or her authority to receive sexual pleasure of another individual, in order to escape charges. Drug abuse and sexual misconduct can also lead to divorce, loss of family, friends and even complaints, and lawsuits brought against the department.
Police brutality has to be one of the most publicized occurrences of all time. Police brutality is when an officer or group of officers uses an excessive or unreasonable amount of force when dealing with members of the community, suspects of crimes, and criminal offenders. This type of behavior is not common but when an incident does take place, the media is quick to broadcast it to the public. Any officer who is involved in police brutality faces severe consequences such as loss of retirement funds, termination from the department, credibility, large fines, imprisonment and so forth if found guilty of the charges. Our Criminal Justice system believes in the Due Process of Law, a law that protects all individual’s in the United States by following the formal methods and procedures (Times Topic, 2008).
Any type of negative, unprofessional behavior that catches the media’s attention which is caused by an officer or a police department can in fact ruin the officer and the department. Hard earned tax dollars pay these individual men and women to protect and serve, and once the trust of the community has been lost due to bad behavior, it can take many years and a great deal of positive actions to gain back the trust once lost by the community. Any form of police misconduct, corruption and brutality can lead to a department and the officer’s loss of credibility. Once an officer or department has established a reputation for always conducting in this sort of negative behavior, attorneys are more apt to use this information in court cases which can lead to court losses.
Farlex Inc. (2008). Police Corruption and Misconduct. Retrieved August 10, 2008, from http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Police+Corruption+and+Misconduct
Proctor, S. (1997). Statement of Interim Chief of PoliceSonya Proctor: On Metropolitan Police Department Ethics and Integrity. Retrieved August 10, 2008, from
Times Topic. (2008). Police Brutality and Misconduct. Retrieved August 10, 2008, from http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/p/police_brutality_and_misconduct/index.htmlhttp://www.dcwatch.com/police/971215.htm