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 would deter them from that which is considered “bad” in today’s society. In some instances, that is not the case. More often than not, police officers are ethical and are forthright in their jobs; however, there are a select few that step over that line. Police officers are put to the test on a daily basis to maintain a high standard of ethics. They are constantly scrutinized by society and the parameters in which they can perform their duties are growing smaller in this litigious society. They do not want to overstep their bounds when it comes to police work. They are trained professionals performing in a skilled position whose main goal is providing a service and protecting the public. Since they are so visible, ethics and ethical standards are paramount. They must always do the right thing at the right time and be in the right place for the right reason. There are expectations that the public has for police officers that always have to be met or exceeded, regardless of whether they are municipal, state, county, or federal police. Police officers not only have to enforce the laws of the jurisdiction where they work, but also the US Constitution, which is the basis of all law. Police officers not only have to...
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