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Every law enforcement officer whether a patrol officer or a narcotics detective is faced with everyday ethical dilemmas. The public scrutinizes law enforcement officers more because they hold them to a higher moral standard but no matter what standard they are held to it is up to the officer to uphold the right ethical standards. Johnny Jones and Tony Denardo, two narcotics officers, faced with many ethical dilemmas throughout this scenario. The dilemmas Tony and Johnny faced fall under two basic ethical systems called the deontological and teleological ethical systems which will be examined throughout this paper.
Considering Johnny's values will also be important to reflect how his moral standards and behavior played a role in some of these decisions. This paper will also discuss the actions; a new supervisor will need to take to prevent more unethical behavior seen throughout this scenario.
According to Bayley (2010), the deontological ethical system is defined as the belief that how and why individuals do something that is more important than the results their behavior produces.
The scenario explained that within the first few weeks of being assigned to his new unit Johnny learned the forms, procedures, policies, and other syncretistic things he saw from his peers. The deontological ethical system is characterized more by the commitment of moral choices or duties. In order for Johnny to make the right moral decisions, he needed to understand what his moral responsibilities were and what rules existed to adjust his ethical duties in his new unit.
So, if Johnny saw a pattern of syncretistic behavior from several of his colleagues he may have characterized this behavior more as behavior that his unit defines as the right rules and moral duties of the department. Remember that Johnny was partnered with Tony at the very beginning of his transfer. Tony gave him his own philosophy of the department and colleagues. According to Cline (2018) in most deontological systems, moral principles are uttered, moral principles are entirely separate from any consequences which following those principles might have. Also, Cline (2018) states that the fundamental questions which deontological ethical systems ask include:
In deontological systems rules, duties and one’s responsibilities are set forth by the approved code of ethics. Thus, meaning that maybe Johnny took the rules, duties, responsibilities laid out to him by the department and Tony as being morally acceptable and the code of ethics that he assumes is laid out by the narcotics department. According to Bayley (2010), the teleological ethical system is defined as the consequences of an individual’s behavior is a more critical concern, it is not whether their actions were essentially good or bad. In other words, it doesn’t matter how you produce the results if the desired outcome occurs. The teleological ethical system takes the opposite viewpoint of deontological systems under this system most of the actions of Johnny and Tony would be viewed as unethical, so this theory may not apply to them in the eyes of many.
Deontology is a term conceived by Jeremy Bentham who believed that this theory was more about moral obligation and that it was bound by moral approaches that focus more on an individual’s rights and duties. Tony was a six-year veteran and the highest squad producer of the narcotics unit at the time Johnny transferred. Tony also had received several commendations throughout his time with the department. There are several types of deontological theories each one points out the moral obligation with different assumptions that asses and individuals’ choices. Cline (2018) defines these examples of deontological ethical theories as:
Johnny and Tony could fall under one of these theories based on the scenarios presented. They also are demonstrating obligations that have been set forth over many periods of time. Tony is seen as a high narcotics producer; eventually, Johnny is placed in that same category. Throughout the scenario, we see both have received minor reprimands for actions deemed unethical, but we don’t see them get stiff reprimands which can, in turn, make both agents think that their behavior is morally correct to the department because they are still producing great investigative work.
Everyone has their own personal and societal values that they live by; personal values are shaped by individuals own unique principles that come from their personal experiences, upbringing, and cultural background which is unique to each person. Societal values are values that are essential to society. These values derive more from expectations from an individual’s culture or a group. According to Roufa (2018) many of these values will help guide a person in the direction of ethical decision making they include:
Unfortunately, the scenario didn’t give us much of Johnny past four years as a police officer we are unaware if Johnny had come into this department with a different set of values and ethics. It is not known if he was ever reprimanded before but what is known is that it seem his values may have changed. His value of hard work to the narcotics department outshines all the values Roufa (2018) points out. What can be concluded from the scenario is that it seems that Tony may have set a bad example for Johnny of what values the department upholds. From the very first day Johnny stepped foot in the narcotics department his supervisors should have set the importance of what ethical standards was expected of him.
A new supervisor will need to take several different approaches to prevent more unethical behavior from its officers. One, a guideline should be introduced to any a new officer; this guideline should contain an ethical issues preparation guide. This guide may not guarantee unethical behavior, but at least it will outline ethical issues the department might face. Second, this new supervisor must identify the problem of each officer, which in this case maybe Johnny and Tony like working alone because it gives them more leeway to act however they please and have no repercussions because no one will ever find out, at least at that moment.
Third, the new supervisor may need to consider more accountability on both Tony and Johnny because they only received minor reprimands for specific behavior. Lastly, the supervisor needs to determine if the code of ethics set forth on the department may be playing a role in the unethical behavior of these two officers. Going back to the theories Cline (2018) addressed, duty theory maybe why these two narcotics officers are making these unethical decisions. As explained earlier in this paper duty theory is an act that is deemed morally right to an individual because it may be in agreement with the responsibilities and obligations set forward by the department.
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