POLICE ETHICS AND INTEGRITY
Professor and Dean College of Police and Security Studies University of Maribor, Slovenia ABSTRACT The paper deals with the importance of police ethics and integrity in contemporary policing. It first describes the field of applied ethics in general. It explains the basis for the structure of professional moral obligations, briefly depicts the core imperatives of applied ethics and describes the process of moral reasoning. It then defines police ethics, discusses the reasons for its relative underdevelopment, and delineates its future development in three interrelated directions: (a) applying the principles of applied ethics to police profession; (b) establishing standards of ethical conduct in policing; and (c) defining the means and content of education and training in police ethics. Next, it discusses the organisational environment that is conductive to police ethics and elaborates on the concept of integrity. The paper concludes that police ethics and integrity are of critical importance in the professionalisation of policing and the best antidotes to police corruption, brutality, neglect of human rights, and other forms of police deviance. Date: September 2003 Attribution: No prior publication Language of origin: English Filename: pg011mpa.pdf
INTRODUCTION For all of us in the field of police and security studies, it has become obvious that we are witnessing a paradigm shift. While we cannot expect this shift to result in a uniform approach to policing everywhere in the world, we can assume that all the various approaches will be based on the same set of assumptions of modern policing, namely the community involvement, a proactive approach that emphasizes prevention, professionalism, innovation, and problem-solving, and an integrated view of criminal justice (Pagon, 1998). In this process, policing is getting closer to professionalisation , a change long advocated by police scholars. As several authors (e.g., Hahn, 1998; Vicchio, 1997; Murphy, 1996; Fry & Berkes, 1983) point out, aspirations by the police to become professionalized either create or at least re-emphasize several requirements, such as wide latitude of discretion, higher educational requirements, higher standards of professional conduct, and self-regulation. At the same time, however, we have witnessed countless accounts of police brutality and abuse of authority, some of them making the headlines, and others taking place outside the public eye. In some countries, police corruption has already reached epidemic proportions. It is obvious that corruption, brutality, and other forms of police deviance go against the above-mentioned efforts for police professionalisation and community involvement. The community cannot trust nor attribute a professional status to deviant police officers. No wonder then, that modern police organisations all over the world are fighting police deviance, trying to achieve proper conduct of their members. However, according to Sykes (1993), a brief history of these efforts to enhance police accountability reveals that they relied on rules and punishment. “Although each of these reform efforts had an impact, the sum total fell short of providing assurances that they were adequate and serious incidents continued… In short, the various rule-based systems of accountability seem insufficient if officers hold different values or there is a subculture which
nurture values different from the ideals of democratic policing” (p.2). The author believes the answer lies in approaches based on ethics, where accountability rests more on individual responsibility than it does on external controls and threatened punishment. It has become obvious that only the properly educated and trained police officers are able to respond adequately to moral and ethical dilemmas of their profession. Only a police officer who is able to solve these dilemmas appropriately can perform his duties professionally and to...
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