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Ethics, Discretion, and Police Misconduct Essay

Ethical police conduct is not as complicated as everyone assumes about defining the perimeters that “ethics” cover. Ethics, for a lot of people, is a vague concept. Then again, being ethical as a servant is simply doing what one needs to do to deserve the term “professional. ” In this case, ethical police is about ensuring that safety is present in a particular community. He or she must be able to successfully gain the approval of every citizen especially when it comes to ensuring safety. Along with gaining the approval of everyone is gaining the respect of the people.

One cay say that a police is being ethical once he or she gains the respect of people. Ordinary citizens have a good nose for well-behaved police officers. If a police officer gains public trust and the public depends on the police in confidence, then he or she is doing the job well . That said, police ethics covers professionalism, decency and morality He or she has to be honest and loyal. He or she has to attend to the needs of the citizens, especially those who need information, volunteer to be witnesses to crimes or register complaints (DC Watch, 1997).

A police practices ethics if he or she enforces laws without a tinge of prejudice and bias, regardless of the backgrounds of the people involved in a specific case. He or she should always be fair when it comes to choosing who to arrest. Police ethics is about being fair in his or her practice or discretion. Police discretion can mean two things. First, it can mean having the police sentence a criminal and second, it can be an act of identifying whether a person is guilty or innocent.

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Technically, people who are in the authority are the ones allowed to do this. In the criminal justice system, policemen are allowed to practice discretion, but only to a certain degree. In policing, discretion is highly unavoidable. Arresting suspects or criminals will never be possible without discretion. Discretion is needed primarily because policemen need to decide who to arrest for a particular violation. Also, if a police calls the attention of someone who violates traffic rules, discretion is needed in issuing a warning to the violator.

Discretion in policing is very much normal, desirable and unavoidable simply because police departments explicitly authorize it. Meaning, police departments allow policemen to practice discretion. The issue, then, when it comes to police discretion, lies on how policemen use discretion. Discretion, indeed, has its limitations, too (Kelling, p. 37) . In this case, what a police officer is allowed to do when it comes to discretion is to get in the way of a particular panhandling incident.

Then again, an intervention done on the use of race as a basis is already a form of police misconduct. Another example would be practicing discretion over allowing youths to drink outside after curfew hours. Police officers may allow these people to stay in a park to drink, but they should not give their consent to those who are underage for alcohol consumption. Also, in controlling neighborhood groups, policemen can access a specific community. Then again, once they gain access to that neighborhood, it is police misconduct to discriminate against minority groups (Kelling, Ibid).

Police offers are also allowed to use force. Then again, force must only be used within appropriate means. The use of force come in five different forms which include firearm, impact, electronic, chemical and physical force. Police officers are legally allowed to use these forces reasonable. This clearly goes to show that determining whether the use of force is excessive or not is then unclear. The use of force can not be measured by counting the number of times an electric shock was caused or the number of bullets shot.

Because of this, excessive use of force is then covered by the circumstances and beliefs surrounding the incident. Force becomes excessive only when a police officer does not find it highly necessary to apply force to someone. The use of force must always be reasonable. Force becomes unnecessary and excessive once it is not justified. Also, when a police officer uses more force than what is required, it is already considered excessive (Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2007).

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