Prof. Francis Garvin
Ethics in Law Enforcement
Three years ago, as I was applying for a position with the Somerville auxiliary police
department, in my interview I was asked to discuss the importance of ethics in the daily
work of a police officer.
Ethics are important not only for a police officer, but, indeed, also for every citizen in
the course of everyday life. They are a mark of character and basic morality in our
dealings with others.
Today many people claim to be struck by occasional lapses in proper police conduct. It
is human nature to remember the uncommon exception and to forget the general rule.
How many citizens are only too willing to point to a police officer’s rare mistake in
judgment and overlook his or her excellent, conscientious and selfless performance of
duty! We are all human. Police officers are no exception. But because of the serious
nature of their profession they are expected to act in a more then human manner.
In my opinion, when police officers fail to conduct themselves ethically they lose the
trust of the community that they are sworn to serve and protect.
Ethics are learned at home, at school, at church. We learn them as children and carry them into our adult life. Police officers, with their very special obligations, must carry
them into their professional life as well. I have learned in my tree years as an auxiliary
police officer that, by far the majority of my fellow officers have always done so.
I will do so as well.
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