The results of the interviews:
The interviewees have been asked a bunch of questions regarding the ethical issues in the field of la enforcement. Before looking at the results of the interviews, it would be better to look at the questions first. These questions were as follows:
1. Why are ethics and character so important in the field of law enforcement?
2. Do you feel that police are more ethical today, or were they more ethical ten years ago?
3. Why do police officers become involved in misconduct?
4. Do you feel that there is enough training offered in ethics at the police academy level? If not, why is that?
5. Should ethics training be offered as an on-going process for law enforcement officers?
6. Do you feel that education and/or training in ethics would reduce incidents of police corruption?
Now the results can be presented here. The answer of each question will be reported separately here.
As far as the first question is concerned, both of the interviewees have expressed great regards for the ethical values associated with their positions. Although the two interviewees belong to two different generations, their perspectives on ethical values in the field of law enforcement are similar. Both of them stressed the need of ethics and character in the field of law enforcement.
According to the jail super indent he could not have performed his duty well in his long career without following ethical norms; whereas the junior police officer believes that without giving proper respect to ethics he could not have been trustable to the society. According to both of them importance of ethics in the field of law enforcement is huge. As law enforcement practitioners they feel that without obeying ethical norms it is quite difficult to present themselves as the protector of the society.
They feel that without having ethical norms to guide their conduct, they would be no better than the bad guys whom they arrest. Society put police on a very high position on account of their responsibility to the society. So it is extremely important for these guys to do right things and in order to do these they need to follow ethical norms. According them, even if their fellow practitioners do not bother about paying reverence to ethics and do not like other to do so, it is very important to do their respective duties in ethical ways.
In case of the second question, the jail superintendent finds it very hard to make a comparison between the present situation and the situation that existed ten years ago. In his twenty five years of career he has seen lots of incidences of violation of ethical norms by police officers. He told that corruption in the field of law enforcement is not a new phenomenon. He himself saw a number of cases of violation of ethical norms in past by police. Police used to be accused of various crimes even ten years ago.
He, however, feels that most of the departments are trying to becoming better in enforcing higher ethical standards for the practitioners. According to the jail superintended every department are trying to employ best officers for representing the respective agencies. He himself put emphasis on examining ethical values of the officers before appointing them in his department. The junior police officer on the other hand was not at all agree to draw a comparison between the two period as he feel that serving only three years in the police force he cant judge the situation that existed ten years ago as he lack proper experience.
He, however, feel that at present higher authorities are paying great attention to ethical values of police, they are trying to strengthen ethical norms. He even cited an example of suspension of three junior police officers, one senior police officer and five constables on account of violation of ethical norms in last three years. He feel that today, may be in fear of suspension, police officers are trying to maintain the ethical codes of their respective positions. Although exceptions are there, he finds most of his fellow police officers obeying ethical norms.
As far as the third question is concerned, both of them feel that it is not right to accuse entire police department of involving in misconduct. They feel if the entire system got corrupted, then it would not be possible for any government to maintain peace in the society. According to them, the situation have not deteriorated to such an extent that an emergency can be called upon. It simply tells the fact that there still exists good officers who are well aware of their responsibilities and perform their duties with great care.
They however, did not forget to express their concern over the presence of some bad apples in the basket. Both of them are of the opinion that through the loopholes if the system some bad people enter into the system and do bad staff by taking advantage of their positions. These people have a tendency to develop a perception about themselves that they are above law and can do whatever they want to. The jail superintend as well as the junior police officer are of the opinion that the bad activities of these few people spoil the image of the entire system.
They also feel that involvement of these bad people in undesired activities sometimes provokes others to involve in these acts as temptation is huge there. However, they feel that it is not right to accuse entire department of involving in misconduct. As for the forth question, the jail superintendent is of the opinion that the training system is enough for grounding ethical values among the officers. He said that the training system has been designed at a gross level.
He said that the training system can not be made individual specific as it would bring huge complexities. In general the training system is well designed to guide a police officer in right direction. But he feel that ultimately the issue boils down to the fact that how an individual officer will utilize his training and follow the rules and regulations and become an example of an excellent officer. He thinks that no extra training can change a person who have a mentality to do his own staff and entered into the system only to take bad advantages of his position.
The junior officer however differs to some extent from the point of view of the jail superintendent. This junior officer feels the training system is good but it can be made better as there exists wide scope for the betterment of the existing training system. He feels that a general level of time sometimes is not appropriate, particularly when people from diverse culture and background join the force. Some people inherits personality traits like greed, stubbornness in negative way, aggression, etc. hich are capable enough of diverting their focus from their responsibilities. The training system should have a method of finding out people with these personality traits and offering them special training in order to ensure that their focus will be kept only on their assigned responsibilities. Thus according the junior police officer theb training system should be modified by some extent. As far as the fifth question is concerned, both of the interviewees feel that ethical training should be made an ongoing process for the law enforcement officers.
The jail superintendent said that at the beginning of his career the training was used to be offered only at the time of entering into the police force. Although sometimes some special training used to be offered, it was not made a ongoing process as a result of which many officers were found to have forgotten their actual duties. A police officer’s social responsibility is huge than a mere service man or an ordinary citizen. A process of updates of ethics training is essential at regular interval to keep them reminding of their duties and how to conduct themselves while performing their duties other wise they would fall apart.
The junior police officer also feels that it is very important to remind constantly every officer of their responsibilities and the way of conducting their duties otherwise there exists a huge probability of forgetting the purpose of their service. Thus h also stressed on making ethics training a ongoing process for the law enforcement officers. As for the sixth question, both of the interviewees here feel that education and ethics training can play a great role in reducing the incidents of police corruption.
Proper education and ethics training can grow among the officers a feeling of responsibility towards the society and to their respective departments. They are of the opinion that proper training and education can make the officers understand that their misconduct not only ruin their image but also the image of their departments as well as of their families and thus law enforcement officers can become more cautious while performing their duties and try to refrain from engaging any king of misconduct. Analysis of the results of the interviews:
The results of the two interviews show that the law enforcement practitioners are quite sensible and possess adequate knowledge about the current situation. In spite of being a part of the law enforcement system they did not hesitate to point out its loopholes. An interesting thing has come out by analyzing the perspectives of these law enforcement officers. Looking at their answers it seems that sometimes media exaggerate the incidents and blame the entire system for the misconduct of one individual.
Of course there are many examples where police officers have been accused of violating ethical norms, like misbehaving with people, involving in sexual crimes, involving in corruption like taking bribes, paying least attention to the suffering of the masses, focusing on their own personal gains and so on. Both of the interviews have admitted these facts, but they do not feel it right to accuse the entire system of these misconducts.
Looking at these examples, they have also stressed on the importance of ethics training in the criminal justice system. Looking at their answers it seems that continuous ethical training is the only ways of reducing these sorts of misconducts. Although, they do not possess any clear idea about whether police were more ethical ten years ago than now, they have accepted that violations of ethical norms were quite prevalent in past too and thus it is not a new phenomenon.
In essence the interviewees put stress on the importance of ethics in the field of law enforcement field and point out the importance of ethical training and education as a significant tool of reducing misconduct and corruption by police officers as ethical training and education can act as moral booster and make officers aware of their responsibilities. Conclusion: The interviewees seem to be quite right in their answer. In spite of being a part of the law enforcement system they did not try to cover up its shortcomings.
The actual scenario seems to be quite similar to what the interviewees have pointed out. As the two interviewees pointed out, the importance of ethics in the field of law enforcement is huge. The issue of ethics is not new in the field of law enforcement, in fact the topic of ethical behavior have been in this field for centuries. With time concerns over ethical issues have become more and more difficult to address. In today’s society ethical standards have taken a very complex shape.
Not only that, but ethical standard of law enforcement officers are also being continuously scrutinized by the public. Therefore, law enforcement officers should carry their tasks following ethical codes. Law enforcement personnel are set at a high position by the society, and hence it is the duty of these officers to perform their job in an efficient and professional way. They are not allowed to express any personal views or emotions while performing their duties.
To accomplish this, they are required to adhere to the codes of ethics and conduct. Ethical standard of law enforcement officers requires them to do right thing in the right way at the right time for appropriate causes. Keeping the essence of ethical standard in mind, the “International Association of Chiefs of Police” set up a code of ethics (Grant, 2002, p. 1). This code of ethics has to be followed by every member of this association. This ethical code dictates how the officers would conduct their jobs.
People have established a set of social norms and values that they want all law enforcement personnel to practice. In order to follow these norms and values and to gain respect from public, it is necessary for law enforcement officers to behave in ethical way and conduct themselves accordingly not only on duty, but also off duty. This ethical code accompanied by proper ethics training encourages officers in the field of law enforcement to become a part of an ethical profession. (Grant, 2002, pp. 1-2).
Courtney from Study Moose
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