Ethics in Policing

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Police officer’s of NSW owe a duty to the community to act in a manner that demonstrates the highest level of ethics, integrity and professionalism. Police officers are always in the public eye. The ways in which police officers perform their duties are closely monitored and scrutinised by the community, the media, and their own peers at any and all opportunities available. This is why it is imperative that Police must always perform to a high standard in any action or decision they make. This essay will look at the ethical actions and decisions, Senior Constable Cullen and Constable Black make, in the Lane Cove Break and Enter case study. This essay will also discuss the roles and functions of police and how they must be approached ethically, as well as the use of discretion and reporting misconduct and corruption.

Ethics is described by the Webster’s online dictionary as a “motivation based on ideas of right and wrong”(n.d.). Simply put ethics is about the values and morals we hold and placing them into a right or wrong, good or bad category. The role and function of police in society is to keep the peace by maintaining order, preventing and detecting crime, upholding and enforcing the law, providing social services and protecting life and property (PPP123 Team, 2010, Pg. 8). It is imperative that police perform these functions with an ethical approach. Fortunately police are guided ethically by legislations such as the ‘Oath of Office’ and the ‘Statement of Values’ as well as policy such as the ‘Code of Conduct and Ethics.’

In the Lane Cove break and enter scenario Senior Constable Cullen and Constable Black are faced with an every day run of the mill break and enter job in what appears to be an affluent area. As soon as Senior Constable Cullen accepts the job he states to Constable Black, “I am so over these rich people.” This very statement here directly breaches point four of the Code of Conduct and Ethics. Item four states an employee of the NSW Police Force must ‘ treat everyone with respect, courtesy and fairness (Rowcliffe, et al. 2010, Pg. 22). Senior Constable Cullen later states to his offsider, after talking to the home owner, “You have got to be kidding me. A bloody IPOD. Look at this place. They can afford to loose an IPOD. This is a waste of my time. I bet you $100 that his partner is a guy.” It becomes quite clear that Senior Constable Cullen does not share the same values that are upheld by the NSW police force. By these simple statements he has not treated this victim with any respect or courtesy as he has judged him for being rich and also suggests that the victim may be homosexual. He has not treated the victim fairly as he is of the opinion that because he is rich he can afford to lose an IPOD.

Although Senior Constable Cullen is entitled to these views, they are not the views held by the NSW Police Force, and as such Senior Constable Cullen must ensure he performs his duties in an ethical manner with in the guidelines set out by the Code of Conduct and Ethics. If I as a police officer was in Senior Constable Cullen’s position I would ensure my intrapersonal communication does not affect my interpersonal communication. In doing this, it will help me to perform my duties with in the guide lines and in an ethical manner.

A police officer’s greatest tool is the ability to use discretion. When an officer takes the Oath of Office and is bestowed the Office of Constable, the officer is also granted the power of original authority. This original authority is used in every single action and decision that a police officer makes. These decisions are an officers own decision and cannot be delegated by anyone. Chief Justice Griffiths show this exact notion through his statement in Enever v R (1906), “The powers of a constable are exercised by virtue of his office and can not be exercised on the responsibility of any person but himself. A constable does not exercise a...
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