Evolution of Ethics in Policing
By: Shannon Smith
Evolution of Ethics in Policing
Policing has evolved so much in the last decade. A complete shift in the priority mission of law enforcement has pointed its finger towards terrorism. Social Stigma has faded away and laws and rules are not filling the void completely from the lack of not having it. Does corruption have the same pulling forces as police abuse? How does the conscience of police officers sometimes interfere with their police assignments? These are some of the questions I purpose to answer in this paper. How has terrorism impacted the police mission in the United States? Prior to September 11th, law enforcement did not have the mechanism let alone the mindset in place to stop terrorism. The police priorities have changed so much over the decades. In the 1970s the shift was towards organized crime in the United States. Intercity police departments were very concerned with taking down leaders of the Mafia organizations and such. In the 1980s street drugs and gangs where the number one priority. Now, the primary mission is to prevent and stop terrorism. There is an extreme change in responsibilities and roles that the government plays in terrorism. New jobs and departments have been developed in order to control and prevent terrorist attacks. Some of these departments include homeland security, more enforcement control in border patrol and more in depth training in law enforcement. The federal government wants every level of law enforcement to know how to identify, prepare, prevent and take down a threat to the United States.
Just about all federal, state and local enforcements priority missions have changed. Various job responsibilities have shift in order to contribute to the United State missions against terrorism. More of the government grants that go out to state and local agencies are mostly for the training and enforcement of terrorism control.
What disagreements exist regarding the appropriate law enforcement behaviors which fight terrorism but maintain personal liberties? The number one disagreement is human rights to privacy. As protected by the Constitution a personal has a right to privacy and a right against illegal search and seizers. The new technology that is being used to search individuals before boarding a plane, or bugged and stalked by law enforcement just on a hunch that terrorism is being performed. Is this violating person Constitutional right or is it necessary to protect the general public?
Another problem is government officials being discriminatory towards Middle Eastern races. Middle Eastern individuals are more thoroughly searched than any other race because of their supposed involvement in September 11th. The government is showing racism towards the race and color of its citizens.
What role does social stigma play in police ethics? I think is it necessary to elaborate what exactly social stigma is. Stigma has evaporated in our era and along with it much of the constant, small-scale and self-regulation of the community. This is where individuals depend on each other’s respect for and fear of other people’s judgment. The consequence of not having social stigma anymore is that the laws have expanded both in extent and complexity, to fill the void. “The law combats crime not by eliminating criminal’s schemes but by increasing the risk attached to them; stigma combats crime by creating people who have no criminal schemes in the first place.”(Scruten 2000)
Individuals as well as police officers have their own conscience, their own personalities, their own ideas and their own values. The law and its officials are intended to judge all members equally and fairly. Events and news stories can impact and influence the minds of these officials and law enforcement officers.
For example, after September 11th, no one looked at Middle Eastern people as pre 9/11. Most people thought twice while boarding a...
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