Essay Example: Ethics in Police Department

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Vanderbilt University
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Police ethics plays a fundamental role successful policing it also assists in building trust within communities. Good conduct among the police force sees improvement of interactions within communities, it promotes the enhancement of communication, and it elevates shared responsibility in addressing crime and disorder (Miller, 2006;, 2017). Therefore, in this sense ethics is the act of doing what is right (Caldero, & Crank, 2010; Klockars, Ivkovic, & Haberfeld, 2007)). The right thing is mostly determined by what the values of the society. Moreover, ethical principles are founded on the argument that right is always right and wrong is always wrong. Consequently, when police officers do the wrong thing, they alleviate community trust which results in degrading the ability of law enforcers to perform their tasks and achieve their mission within the community (, 2017). To achieve the goals and mission of the modern police, the police department has to foster and implement high ethical standards. In this sense, the police agencies have established several ways to prevent ethical violation of the police (Roufa, 2017). They include the law enforcement oath of office, the law enforcement code of ethics, representation of the badge, and ethical decision making for police.

The enforcement oath of office is comprised of several provisions on protection, defense, and upholding the United States Constitution (Baker, 2011; Roufa, 2017). Also, it consists of the oath such as assenting to be sober, honest and honorable when performing ones duties, to shun from behaviors that are offensive, and to comply with the commands of senior officers. Thus, police officers promise, to be sincere and respectable citizens. They swear, to bring solution instead problem and swear to adhere to the rules whether they support or no support them. The other way is the law enforcement code of ethics; it provides the grounds for the inculcation of ethical behavior (, 2017; Roufa, 2017). It also assists guide officers towards making ethical decisions since it codifies the practices the agency promotes and those they expect the officers to keep away from. Moreover, the code of ethics not only prepare the police to enforce the laws but it, also ensures the police follow it.

Representing the badge is another way in which police officers can prevent committing ethical violations. Therefore, a vital thing that should always run in the minds of the police officers is that what they do while in uniform not only affects themselves as a person but, it affects the entire agency and the whole police profession entirely (Roufa, 2017). Lastly, it is the ethical decision making among the police officers, and this is usually achieved through three decision making tests which are critical thinking test, the media test, and the gut test (Roufa, 2017). The critical thinking test is designed to answers questions that require yes or no answers that enable an officer in determining whether they need to continue with an action. For instance, the police need to ask themselves is the act legal? What are the consequences? Is it able to work? Are there other methods to perform the act and still achieve the same results? (, 2014). The media test has the similar approach, but it is simpler than the critical thinking test. In this approach, the police are required to answer one question which is what will I feel if the decision I make made the front page tomorrow (Smith, 2017). This renders the police to remember their choice they make can become a reality and justifying the actions is not enough if it catches the eyes of the public and they begin to question the practices and tsctics of the police seriously. Lastly, is the gut test which focuses on the police instincts. It beliefs all officers have the intuit to make the right decisions. It supports the principle that if it feels wrong, it is probably wrong (Foley, 2009).


Barker, T. (2011). Police ethics: Crisis in law enforcement. Charles C Thomas Publisher.

Caldero, M. A., & Crank, J. P. (2010). Police ethics: The corruption of noble cause. Routledge.

Commission Procedure C-3, Law Enforcement Code of Ethics - Commission on POST. (2017). Retrieved 4 October 2017, from

COPS Office: Ethics & Integrity. (2017). Retrieved 4 October 2017, from

Foley, B. J. (2009). Policing from the Gut: Anti-Intellectualism in American Criminal Procedure. Md. L. Rev., 69, 261.

Klockars, C. B., Ivkovic, S. K., & Haberfeld, M. R. (2007). Enhancing police integrity (pp. 251-270). Springer New York.

Making Ethical Decisions: Things to Ask Yourself. (2014). Retrieved 4 October 2017, from

Miller, S. (2006). Police ethics. Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Roufa, T. (2017). Right is Right: The Importance of Ethics in Policing. The Balance. Retrieved 4 October 2017, from

Smith, B. (2017). Criminal Justice Ethics for Everyone - PoliceLink. Retrieved 4 October 2017, from

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