Importance of Good Decisions by Police
Police make life changing decisions everyday, often alone or unsupervised. They must apply the law fairly and justly. The purpose of the constitutional principles and law is to create a society where everybody is free to pursue what he or she, individually, believes is the good in his or her life. This is also known as the pursuit of happiness. Having good ethics as a police is very important. Policing is not what people expect, partly due to unrealistic and idealistic media imagery. In the notes I took is said that it is rare to hear about police officers using excessive force. I agree but disagree with this statement. Some officers do use excessive force even though they are trained to not use excessive force. It has also been said that going into the job that rookie officers think they have a lot of power. That is not necessarily the case. Actually, police work is frustration due to lack of power over others. Paradoxes frustrate young and old officers.
What is Ethics?
Ethics is what shapes us as a person. It is our beliefs and moral principles that help determine a persons behavior. Behavior is a really big part of ethics. Ethics help us determine the right and the wrong of a situation. During a situation our ethics are what helps us make decisions on how to take action. Ethics makes police work to make society better and act correctly. There are three distinct functions with police officers such as service, order maintenance, and law enforcement. Ethics is not only for the job, but for life as well. Outside of work we have our own beliefs and morals. Therefore ethics is not just used in the field. It is carried home with them when the shift is over.
Why Be Ethical?
Ethical formalism ( Immanual Kant, Chapter 7): being ethical is an absolute duty that requires it of us all the time. Ulitarians (John Stuart Mill, Chapter 8): being ethical is behaving in the interests of the majority of society’s members. There are so many things that determine ethics. Religion has a big part of it also. Our religious beliefs determine how we are ethically. Policemen are always in the position to where they can use their authority for bad and dealing with that temptation is hard when you have that power ( Kooken, 1947, p.173). Early in the development of police service, lawmakers realized giving police officers more power than what they have the right to do was giving them the opportunity to abuse their power as officers ( Kooken, 1947, p.172). Character is very important when it comes to police, ethics can not be fully appreciated unless leadership is understood and enforced ( Kooken, 1947, p.183). Being ethical is expected when you are in this field. Since it is expected, it should be a must that officers get more ethical training when it comes to the job. Ethical judgement is important for police professionals. Police ethics is apart of the applied normative branch (Pagon, 2000).
Being ethical makes the job more beneficial. When you make good ethical decisions and the community sees it then it reflects good on the station and chief. It is showing the community that they can trust the police and that they really are there to serve and protect. It is important to carry out good ethics because police officers are already stereotyped. Doing something unethical is giving in to all stereotypes making the people believe it is true even if it is not.
Police training moves toward academic experience of true professionals. In order to become a police officer some education is required. There are steps that you have to take to pursue a career in this field. Having a college education will make your chances of getting accepted higher. Even having advanced degrees will better the chances. After that you will have to spend fifteen to twenty weeks at a police academy. When that is finished field training officers supervise rookies on the street. That is to see if they will follow all instructions that they learned during the academy. The only bad thing is that the rookies can do everything right when they are with their field training officers but when they are alone they could throw everything they learned out the window and handle situations the way they want. This is when ethics come into play. Having ethics training makes right and wrong more aware to officers. With good ethics training they will always handle situations the right way. Police ethicists and practitioners have worked together to try and understand the training and education that police do when it comes to ethics (Pagon, 2000). Despite all the education and training that police officers go through., ethics is not a big part of it. There is a need for ethics study by police. In the academy there is minimal training when it comes to ethics. Officers get three and a half hours of training. Along with that training, all the instructors do is list what not to do while having very little discussion about ethics. Learning about ethics in the law enforcement field should take longer than three and a half hours. This is not something you can ignore or briefly talk about.
To me ethics runs into police professionalism. You cannot have one without the other. Having good ethics makes you a good professional police officer. The definition of police professionalism is systematized body of knowledge, self regulating, self disciplining, and collegial problem solving along with internalized professional ethic. A competent police officer must be knowledgeable in more than a dozen fields of study. In order to be a good professional police officers are going to need all of those characteristics. My notes also state that if American policing is going to achieve genuine professionalism, ethics must be engages throughout. This goes back to the statement I made about how ethics and police professionalism work together. There has been many calls for the professionalization of police officers.
Police Are the Law
People have their own views about police officers. In the past people thought of officers as unintelligent and against finding justice. Today we look at them becoming professionals by having more training. Police officers must find a balance between ignoring the law and applying the law too rigorously. Officers need to be able to make good decisions when they do not have supervision. They also need to be able to make their own good judgment when it comes to dealing with problems. It is the responsibility of the officer to interpret and enforce the law on the street. If they do not enforce the law then it will be hard for people to want to follow the law.
The results of not having good ethics is police misconduct. There are some crooked police officers that abuse their power. They partake in acts that are not ethical and that they should not do. Regardless of all the training that they went through some feel like they can do whatever they want whenever they get on the streets. There are videos all over the internet of police officers not handling situations the right way. There has been issues brought to public about incidents of police misconduct, the use of excessive force, and corruption that has happened greatly. Because of this it has caused concern of the citizens about ethical police behavior and how the police agencies need to be held accountable ( Jones, Owens, & Smith, 1995, p.22). It is believed that some police officers think that citizens will tolerate their aggressive behavior, and support it, if it means that the crime rate will lower (Jones, Owens, & Smith, 1995,p.22).I disagree with this highly it is never alright to get out of character and forget your training just so you can try to keep crime low. That does not make sense to me it is just going to make the people mad at officers and not respect them. Law enforcement agencies decided to help put a stop to police misconduct by putting more control in their stations (Jones, Owens, & Smith, 1995, p.22). By gaining more control the police administrators have added more rules and policies that officers have to follow for when they are on duty(Jones, Owens, & Smith, 1995, p.22). This is good because it helps gain control over officers to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to.
I agree that having ethics as a police officer is very important. It is something that is not deeply looked into when it should be. Ethics needs to be more enforced in the academy. Only three and a half hours are spent on ethics throughout the whole training. I find it hard to believe that they have learned all they needed to know about using ethics in that little time. Personally I believe if ethics were applied more police misconduct would be very low and would rarely happen. As a officer there is nothing wrong about always using your ethics. That is your personal belief. It is what helps us determine right and wrong. It helps us know what we should do and what we should not do when working. Ethics is how we believe as humans.