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Lon L. Fuller, former Carter Professor of Jurisprudence at Harvard Law School, observed in The Morality of Law, “Even if a man is answerable only to his conscience, he will answer more responsibly if he is compelled to articulate principles on which he acts. ” To me this means that you have to answer to your own self and that you judge yourself on your thinking and possible actions. You have to weigh the outcomes and ask yourself what you can you live with doing? It’s what your moral thinking is and how it is applied. Scenario 1 – Drugs at a Friend’s House There is a moral dilemma for this situation.
I am an off duty police officer and observe several other people at a friend’s party using the recreational drug, cocaine. The friend of mine is outside with others and I don’t know if she knows that illegal activities are being done in her home. I would ask myself, do I call my supervisor and make them aware even though I’m off duty? Or do I ask my friend if she knows anything about the activities being done in her home and if she does, do I call it in and make arrests for what I observed and learned or let it slide with a warning because she’s a friend? My instincts are to go question my friend.
I would still call it in, but depending on whether or not she knows about the activities, would mean if I would make an arrest on her with the others or not. Cocaine is an illegal drug and I have seen what it can do to people. I might lose a friend over it, but arresting them would not only get the drugs off the street, but it will also possibly help those being caught using the substance. There are rehabilitation programs out there to help them. If I chose to let it slide, it could be a slippery slope and lead to me letting it slide more often and letting criminals and possible addicts go.
It would play on my conscience to know someone actually partaking in such activities and me not try to help them recover. Yes, I might feel bad for losing a friend, but I’d rather not lose my job and put my children at risk of being homeless. I think it would be for the greater good to call it in versus letting it go. Scenario 2 – Accepting a Gift There is a moral problem in this situation. I am a community police officer and the day before Christmas, an owner of a small marker that has been sociable towards me calls me behind the counter and hands me a fruit basket for my family, and a Christmas card with $30 gift certificate.
The moral question is whether or not I accept the gifts. If policy allowed gratuity for officers, I would accept the kind gesture as professional discretion. After all, the owner has participated consistently in community crime-prevention meetings. If policy didn’t allow it, I would have to decline and explain it’s against policy to do so and thank him for his gesture. I strive daily to do the right thing. If it’s against policy to accept a gift given as appreciation for my friendship and service as an officer, then sadly, I would have to decline.
If I didn’t, that could lead to a slippery slope. You never know what a person does behind closed doors. He could be the prominent community member he portrays or he could be hosting illegal activities. Scenario 3 – Homosexual Partner You are a supervisor on a medium-size police department. Office Ted Jones is an excellent officer and has been on the force for 16 years. He is also a homosexual and hangs out at a known gay bar in his off time. You have two person patrols and Jones was recently teamed with Officer James Davis.
Officer Davis comes to you and asks to be assigned to another partner because Jones is a homosexual. Is there a moral problem presented in the scenario? If so, what is it? I don’t believe there is a moral problem for me personally regarding this situation. I’m a supervisor of a police department. An officer approaches me to ask to be assigned to another partner because the current partner is homosexual. Personally, I don’t care about a person’s sexuality. The homosexual office, Officer Jones, is an excellent officer and has been here for 16 years.
I would ask the officer requesting reassignment with a different partner, Officer Davis, whether or not Officer Jones harassed him, and if he didn’t, I would tell him deal with it. If he did, I’d pull in Officer Jones for disciplinary action. There isn’t a policy that stops a homosexual person from having a partner. It’s discriminatory. Officer Davis may hate me after that, but unless Officer Jones harasses him or assaults him, it’s out of my hands. Consciously, I’d be okay letting Jones and Davis stay partners.