Police Ethics and Deviance: The Importance of Following Ethical Standards
It is a widely known fact that members of police forces are entrusted with great responsibility. They are the individuals who help protect citizens and uphold the law. In order to perform such duties in an effective and professional manner, police officers must adhere to a specific code of conduct, which is also referred to as police ethics. The purpose of this paper is to explore the concepts of police ethics and deviance. In particular, the paper will focus on discussing the importance of following ethical standards while working as a law enforcement officer as well as explore the concept of police deviance in greater detail.
2. The role of police ethics
When it comes to law enforcement, it is essential for police officers to follow a strict code of ethics. Ethics can be defined as a system of moral principles that helps guide an individual’s behaviour (Ruggiero, 2012). Police ethics specifically refers to the set of values and principles that guide police officers in their line of work. The reason why it is so important for members of law enforcement to follow ethical standards is because they are given the authority to use force and make decisions that can have a profound impact on people’s lives. As a result, it is essential for them to use this power in a responsible manner.
There are many different codes of conduct that police officers can follow, but one of the most commonly used ones is the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Code of Ethics (IACP, 2018). This code consists of four main pillars: service, loyalty, integrity and fairness. Service refers to the commitment that police officers have to safeguard the lives and property of all individuals within their jurisdiction. Loyalty refers to remaining faithful to one’s agency, team members and the community that they serve. Integrity refers to being honest in all interactions both within and outside of work. Fairness refers to treating all individuals equally without favouritism or discrimination.
These four pillars provide a general overview of what is expected from police officers in terms of ethical behaviour. However, it is also important for officers to be aware of the specific laws and regulations that they need to follow while on duty. For example, in Canada, police officers are required to comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982), which outlines certain rights that individuals have including the right to life, liberty and security of person as well as freedom from unreasonable search or seizure among others. Police officers must always keep these rights in mind while performing their duties so that they do not violate any individual’s rights unintentionally.
In addition to following specific laws and regulations, it is also important for police officers to maintain high standards of professional conduct at all times. Professional conduct can be defined as behaviour that adheres to the norms and values associated with a particular profession (Norman & Norman, 2009). There are many different ways in which police officers can maintain high standards of professional conduct. For example, they can always act in a polite and respectful manner when interacting with members of the public as well as treating all individuals equally regardless of their race, religion or gender. Furthermore, they should never use excessive force while carrying out their duties nor should they accept any bribes or kickbacks. By maintaining high standards of professional conduct at all times, police officers can help build trust between themselves and the community members that they serve.
3. The concept of police deviance
While it is important for police officers to follow a strict code of conduct, there are times when they may deviate from this code. Police deviance refers to behaviour that goes against the accepted standards of behaviour within the police force (Reiner, 1992). There are many different reasons why police officers may engage in deviant behaviour. For example, they may do so out of personal gain or in order to obtain power over others. Additionally, some officers may become corrupted over time due to the stresses of the job or because they are exposed to criminal activity on a daily basis. Whatever the reason may be, it is important to note that police deviance can have serious consequences.
Police deviance can take many different forms. For example, an officer may accept a bribe in exchange for not issuing a ticket to a driver who has committed a traffic violation. Another form of police deviance is known as “testilying”, which refers to when an officer lies under oath in order to make a case against an individual seem stronger than it actually is. Additionally, some officers may engage in physical abuse or sexual assault while on duty. All of these behaviours go against the code of conduct that police officers are expected to follow and can have serious consequences for both the officers involved as well as the individuals who are affected by their actions.
One of the most notable examples of police deviance occurred during the Rodney King trial in 1992. Rodney King was an African American man who was brutally beaten by four white police officers even though he was compliant with their orders. The entire incident was caught on camera and caused outrage among the public when the officers were acquitted despite the clear evidence against them. The acquittal led to several days of riots in Los Angeles, which resulted in 53 deaths and over 2,000 injuries (The Rodney King Trials: A Chronology, 1992). This incident served as a stark reminder of how police deviance can have far-reaching consequences and how it needs to be addressed in order to maintain public trust in law enforcement.
In conclusion, it is clear that police ethics and deviance are two important concepts that need to be understood in order to maintain a functioning and effective law enforcement system. Police officers play a vital role in our society and must always adhere to a strict code of ethics in order to perform their duties in a professional and responsible manner. However, there are times when officers may engage in deviant behaviour, which can have serious consequences for both themselves and the public. It is therefore important for all members of law enforcement to be aware of both concepts so that they can avoid engaging in any unethical or deviant behaviour while on duty.
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