Power and Restraint: The Moral Dimension of Police Work

Power and Restraint: The Moral Dimension of Police Work

Power and Restraint: The Moral Dimension of Police Work

Power and Restraint: The Moral Dimension of Police Work

Synopsis

Cohen and Feldberg use a moral perspective grounded in the social contract to define the responsibilities assumed by the police when they accept the authority to govern. Part I develops a system of ethical standards by which to measure responsible police behavior: fair access, public trust, safety and security, teamwork, and objectivity. In Part II, the book applies these standards to several familiar yet challenging cases encountered daily in municipal patrol work, illustrating how police officers can develop appropriate moral responses to complex and difficult circumstances.

Excerpt

It is now more than a decade since the authors took their first steps toward understanding the moral dimensions of police work. In 1979, with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, we began designing the Law Enforcement Trainers Institute (LETI), a summer program in humanities for police personnel. We were confident that the collaboration between academic humanists and police professionals could be fruitful. It is safe to say, however, that we did not begin to see how fascinating, complex and truly mutual the intellectual journey would become. In our initial planning of this first summer program, we harbored no illusions that we knew much about police work. Nevertheless, we were cheered by the thought that the police officers and trainers we would work with were at a corresponding disadvantage regarding history, ethics and the world of social thought that was so much on our own horizons. A collaboration in which all parties enter with complementary proclaimed strengths and proclaimed ignorance requires serious trust on all sides if it is to be productive. We are deeply grateful that we could trust, and be trusted by, the countless people of good will who enriched our minds and lives.

Our initial thanks must go the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Association of State Directors of Law Enforcement Trainers. The former was willing to support our dialog in the humanities with a population that was not in its traditional domain. The latter put its organizational clout behind our idea and made it possible to recruit program participants who had positions of importance in police training . . .

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