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Ethics and Character in Law Enforcement: Interview Case Study


Several law enforcement ideologies have been observed to shape the nature of the criminal justice system in society. Political and social theories are the root of the entire criminal process. For instance, political theory has dictated how different states are governed. The attributes of liberty and justice have emerged to safeguard the needs of the greatest majority. It is agreeable that the connections among criminal processes, political culture, and social ideology are necessary whenever planning to address the emerging ethical issues in law enforcement systems (Malmin, 2015). These notions are therefore useful whenever promoting the best practices and ideologies that can be taken seriously by law enforcers.

Responses from the Interviewees

The interviewees selected for the exercise included a municipal police officer and a clerk in a prosecutor’s office. These practitioners in the criminal justice system were informed about the emerging issues in law enforcement. According to the respondents, character and ethics were critical aspects in the field of law enforcement. This was the case because ethical values outlined the best actions and behaviors that can be embraced by different stakeholders in the field. Ethics and character were essential because they guided criminal practitioners and police officers to support the welfare of the greatest majority (Malmin, 2015). The respondents believed that ethics provided the best framework for promoting and addressing people’s needs. The character was taken seriously to ensure the players in the field supported their clients.

The respondents were convinced that the police had become more ethical than ever before. They indicated that many police officers used to commit offenses such as discrimination and unfair treatment ten years ago. Statistics, according to the interviewees, indicated clearly that police departments and criminal justice agencies had come up with better codes of conduct to ensure officers acted ethically (Banks, 2013). For instance, many departments had come up with different awards and values that have been implemented in an attempt to promote ethical performance. The strategic measures embraced by many departments across the nation were encouraging more officers to embrace the power of ethics.

Unfortunately, the respondents were keen to indicate clearly that many officers were still being involved in misconduct. Some of the officers were guided by personal interests and desire to amass wealth. For instance, corruption was embraced by a small fraction of officers who wanted to get money using unethical means. The clerk indicated that some individuals had been forced by members of society to engage in unethical behaviors. For example, members of the public who offer bribes tempt the officers to engage in unethical practices (Meine & Dunn, 2012). The absence of adequate policies in different agencies has been singled out as a major factor promoting this unethical behavior. With proper codes of conduct, more agencies can find it easier to governor mentor their police officers to act ethically.

The interviews indicated clearly that the nature of ethics training in different police academies was inadequate. The encountered cases of malpractice and misconduct were clear indications that the police academies in the United States were doing very little to tackle the problem. The nature of training and information presented to many candidates in the police academy fails to prepare them for effective ethical conduct. The absence of adequate training programs promoting the concepts of ethics and morality is the reason why more police officers continue to be involved in unethical conduct or misbehavior (Meine & Dunn, 2012). The inadequacies of the training programs implemented in different police academies are also to blame. The interviewees indicated clearly that new measures were needed in an attempt to deal with the issues affecting the law enforcement system.

From this understanding, the interviewees argued that there was a need to offer ethics training as an ongoing process for law enforcers. This approach was supported because it had the potential to transform the behaviors of the officers and encourage them to engage in lifelong learning. The program should also be designed in such a way that it focuses on the major challenges and issues that have affected the system for the past six decades. The officers will be sensitized to promote the ideals of justice, equality, cohesion, and integrity (Malmin, 2015). By so doing, the individuals would find it easier to acquire new concepts and ideas that can result in ethical behaviors. A continuous improvement would become a reality and eventually ensure more officers are willing to design their ethical conduct models. The philosophies will empower them to handle every emerging ethical dilemma and act intelligently whenever supporting to the targeted citizens.

Another outstanding idea obtained from the interview was that the inclusion of new ethics training programs could transform the behaviors of many police officers. For instance, the officers would be sensitized about the importance of acting ethically whenever supporting the emerging needs of their clients. The officers would also understand how ethical misconduct has continued to affect the image of the criminal justice system. Evidence-based education or training in ethics can encourage targeted police officers to engage in the best practices. The teaching program will guide them to understand the challenges arising from corruption in the criminal justice (Banks, 2013). They will understand how the malpractice makes it impossible for more innocent people to receive justice. The officers will be willing to share the gained ideas with their counterparts and eventually transform the performance of the nation’s law enforcement system. By so doing, more people will live in a society that is characterized by the most ethical criminal justice and law enforcement systems.

Practical Law Enforcement Ideologies: Contemporary Ethical Issues

Criminologists, legal experts, and politicians have indicated clearly that the issue of ethics has been ignored in the law enforcement system. Moral laws and sociological ideologies have supported the importance of ethics in every aspect or function of society. Ethical viewpoints and practices make it easier for individuals to deal with emerging dilemmas and engage in the best practices that can support the welfare of the greatest majority (Banks, 2013). Unfortunately, several ethical issues continue to taint the image of the criminal justice system.

The first ethical dilemma being addressed by many criminal justice practitioners is corruption. The malpractice remains the commonest ethical issue affecting every function of society. Meine and Dunn (2012) indicate that law enforcement officers and public servants might find themselves in situations whereby they have to receive money to promote injustice. This issue has continued to affect the entire criminal justice process. During the interview, the respondents acknowledged that the ethical concern was making it impossible for the country’s law enforcement system to function optimally. The professionals in criminal justice are working hard to ensure the problem is addressed using evidence-based strategies.

The second ethical concern is that of police brutality. In a country characterized by many racial groups, police brutality has been observed against different communities and ethnic groups (Banks, 2013). Questionable behavior in the force has led to numerous questions and complaints. Criminal justice practitioners have realized that the issue of police brutality has become a major concern in the system. Although some of the practitioners are ethical, some specific officers abuse citizens and victims. According to the respondents, this issue remains questionable because it affects the criminal justice system.

The third unethical practice emerges when some police officers behave inappropriately when they are not working. This off-duty behavior is a major ethical issue affecting the police enforcement system across the nation. This kind of behavior has led to reduced levels of confidence and trust (Banks, 2013). Criminal justice practitioners have therefore been required to focus on the best practices and decorum to transform the situation.

The fourth ethical concern outlined by the respondents arises from the issue of race in the country. America is known to be one of the most diverse nations across the world. This diversity has become a risk factor for being abused in the country. Many police officers in the country have been observed to torture, oppress, and victimize members of different minority groups (Meine & Dunn, 2012). This situation explains why many African Americans and Latinos have increased chances of being incarcerated in the country.

Personal Insights

The completed interview allowed me to understand the unique issues and challenges that were affecting the law enforcement system in the country. The respondents appeared to acknowledge the fact that many officers in the United States were not acting in an ethical. The views of the respondents regarding the importance of ethics training reflected my personal opinions. Many experts have argued clearly that new training programs focusing on the issue of ethics can make it possible for more police officers to engage in positive behaviors and eventually provide quality support to the targeted members of the society (Banks, 2013). This approach could transform the nature of the law enforcement system and meet the emerging needs of more communities.

The practitioners were keen to outline the major ethical issues that were being addressed by many professionals in law enforcement. The identified four key issues included corruption, race relations in the police force, off-duty behavior, and brutality. To promote the best ideologies and practices in law enforcement, the most important thing is to answer every emerging dilemma from an ethical perspective. The ultimate goal of moral philosophy is to ensure people (including law enforcers) understand how they live or behave in their respective workplaces (Meine & Dunn, 2012). The individuals should design powerful philosophies that can guide them to address dilemmas and maximize the well-being of the greatest majority. This kind of knowledge can therefore be embraced to analyze, understand, and address the ethical issues and concerns that have emerged in the law enforcement system. Powerful initiatives should therefore be implemented to address the ethical concerns and empower many police officers to act ethically by the existing sociological norms and laws.

References

Banks, C. (2013). Criminal justice ethics: Theory and practice. New York, NY: Sage Publications.

Malmin, M. (2015). Open Journal of Social Sciences, 3(1), 1-19. Web.

Meine, M., & Dunn, T. (2012). Policing the police: Using ethics educations and training to combat “official deviance”. Journal of US-China Public Administration, 9(9), 1069-1075. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Ethics and Character in Law Enforcement: Interview." November 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ethics-and-character-in-law-enforcement-interview/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Ethics and Character in Law Enforcement: Interview'. 5 November.

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