Essay on Ethics in Policing

Decent Essays

Ethics in Policing


November 1, 2009
William Whitlatch, Instructor

Ethics in Policing

According to Webster’s Dictionary, ethics is defined “as the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation” (Merriam-Webster Online). This concept is prevalent in the world of police work since police officers are supposed to be the “good” in whatever is considered a “bad” situation. Many police departments offer training in ethics during the time in which a cadet is in the police academy and after officers are put on the streets, which is called in-service training. It is the hope that while this training is available to officers, that they hold a basic code of ethics within themselves which …show more content…

While the wording of the police code of conduct may vary by jurisdiction, the end result is the same— “protect those that need protecting, perform the job with integrity, keep others information confidential unless the performance of duty or legal provision requires otherwise, use discretion based on reasonableness, never employ use of force unless in the defense of life, and behave in a manner that does not discredit the office in which they are employed” (Ethics and Law Enforcement, 2002).

Corruption Police corruption is one of the ethical issues affecting law enforcement officers. Corruption is defined as “impairment of integrity, virtue or moral principle; inducement to do wrong by improper or unlawful means” (Merriam Webster Online, 2009). While the most recognizable form of corruption involves officers taking money for favors (bribery), the actions that are considered corruption include filing false police reports, harassment of any person due to sex, race, creed, religion, national origin or sexual orientation, and failure to protect the rights of citizens. Corruption exists in all levels of law enforcement. When people think of police misconduct, they immediately think of police brutality. While police brutality is a form of police misconduct, the term is much broader. Police misconduct is any conduct that is outside the ethical code that officers are sworn to follow.

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