Limits within Law Enforcement: Ethical Standards for Police Officers

Topics: Police, Police officer, Constable Pages: 5 (1654 words) Published: July 31, 2011
Ethical Boundaries:

Limits within Law Enforcement

Ethical Standards for Police Officers

The ethical standards for a police officer have socially been set higher in regard to their professionalism on and off duty. These guidelines allow police officers to take an important role in society that allows provides them with a specific role within Americans culture and social structure. A democratic government comes with very specific rules, regulations and laws that provide citizens with guidelines to live their lives by. These guidelines allow for each citizens freedom while maintain order and justice to their prospective community and the nation as a whole. Police officer’s have a unique position that is thought of as a single representation for all police officer in the nation. If one officer performs an unethical act it reflects on all police officers and makes a police officer’s job harder when dealing with the public. Due to the importance of a police officer’s position they should be more focused on their actions on and off duty to represent their image in a positive manner to American citizens. A police officer’s failure to recognize the important of their position and the overall impact their actions can have on the nation’s view towards police officer is a mistake that can severely damage the relationship between law enforcement officials and the American public. A police officer must hold themselves to higher ethical standards then the average American citizen at all times and continuing to do this will build upon the relationship between law enforcement officers and the American public.

Ethical guidelines are important to live by but may be difficult to understand and apply to each individual’s personal life. Ethical standards can be different for everyone which can create it very difficult to maintain a lifestyle within the ethical guidelines created for the American people. Living within social and cultural guidelines appear to be easier due to the very specific guidelines set out in the form of laws but ethical and unethical actions normally fall into a black and white area relying on the individual to determine if an action is ethical or unethical. An ethical action to John Doe may be unethical to Jane Doe and there lies the problem of defining how actions are defined as ethical and unethical. Many may argue that unethical actions may be considered common sense. In American may unethical acts have been given laws that allow them to be punishable offenses making unethical acts easier to define and pin point when they arise. Police officer’s are trained to be aware of actions that are considered unethical but many still choose to commit unethical actions and fall back on ignorance.

While attending my academy as a police officer one of the instructors outlined the ethical standards and guidelines presented to us. During this a trainee posed the questions that officers will being held ethically responsible for actions if committed would cause them to possible lose their jobs while employees that supported the police departments such as administrative assistants were not being held to the same standards. The instructor then outlined why police officers can be held to a higher ethical standard then the average citizen. The instructor’s guidelines were simple in that officers are the figurehead to American’s laws and are the foundation that helps hold the social guidelines for American in place. If the American public viewed police officers as unethical individual that did not personally follow the laws and regulation they enforce then why would the average person conduct themselves in an ethical manner? The instructor then went on to say that police officers are viewed as the supervisors of the law and thus must maintain their professional and ethical guidelines at all times, on and off duty. This constant maintenance of ethical standards provides officer’s with the understanding of unethical and...
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