Ethics for Criminal Justice Professionals

By Cliff Roberson; Scott Mire | Go to book overview

11
Ethics and the Police

Introduction

In this chapter, we examine several facets of policing that are critical to understand, especially as they relate to the concept of ethics. Keep in mind the ultimate objective of police departments should be to serve the community in which they work. The manner in which this service is provided is the paramount consideration and precisely what this chapter is aimed at examining. For a community to be healthy from a criminal justice point of view, it must be serviced by an ethical police force that is committed to providing just service all of the time, not just when it is convenient or when an officer happens to be in a good mood. Quality and equitable services must resonate and trump any contradictory alternative.

The chapter first explores a paradox. Anytime an entity is charged with delivering a service or product that is paradoxical in nature, the challenges are immediately heightened. Policing is certainly a discipline that operates squarely within a paradox of which the parameters are central to our existence and well-being. The parameters of this paradox are freedom on one side and protection on the other. As noted in Chapter 9, these parameters represent each arm of the scale of justice.

To achieve some objective, one must take action. The action taken by police officers, or the lack thereof, is where the concept of ethics is engaged. Of course, the thought processes and the foundations from which officers decide to act are informed by ethical theory, but the action taken in relation to some circumstance is what is ultimately going to be scrutinized as ethical. The thought process used to decide the type of action is secondary to the action itself within the context of evaluating ethical behavior. It is the action of officers that is examined and ultimately judged as right or wrong. In relation to an officer’s action, three important factors should be explored: the individual officer, the community in which the officer serves, and the organization with whom the officer is employed. In Chapter 5, each of these factors were discussed when we examined the foundation from which corruption may be explained or better understood. They are relevant once again to the discussion of ethical behavior. These factors are central determinants that serve to provide the foundation on which decisions are made.

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Ethics for Criminal Justice Professionals
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Table of Contents iii
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • About the Authors ix
  • 1 - What Is Ethics? 1
  • 2 - Historical Development of Ethical Reasoning 21
  • 3 - Understanding Ethics 41
  • 4 - Ethical Schools 59
  • 5 - Unethical Themes in Criminal Justice 75
  • 6 - Abuse of Authority and Power 93
  • 7 - Lying and Deception 111
  • 8 - Prejudice and Discrimination 137
  • 9 - Ethics and the Present Criminal Justice System 165
  • 10 - Ethics and Criminal Prosecutions 181
  • 11 - Ethics and the Police 203
  • 12 - Ethics and Corrections 221
  • 13 - Ethical Issues Involving Victims’ Services 239
  • References 265
  • Index 275
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