I have received the reports of questionable conduct by some of our officer employees. A more in-depth look into the matter allowed me discovering cases of noble cause corruption, such as planting of evidence, lying in court, and falsifying police reports. Their justification is that they were trying to convict dangerous suspects and these actions were necessary. Nevertheless, I do not consider such actions acceptable for an officer. Therefore, I present this memorandum for you to be aware of the principles of ethical behavior, which are obligatory for every officer, and expect your ethically-sound conduct in the future.
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First of all, let us define the concept of noble cause corruption. Thus, it can be explained as corruption, which suggests using illegal or unethical tools, to achieve an aim that is considered to be the greater good. In fact, the noble cause corruption justifies acting unethically or illegally for the sake of something more important. Still, an officer should be an example of ethical behavior and act within the pale of the law. Noble causes are connected with values and morals (FitzPatrick, 2006). Nevertheless, the issue of a noble cause is a complicated one. On the one hand, it can have favorable outcomes for the individuals who use it to achieve their goals. On the other hand, it is not ethical and thus should be avoided and replaced with more ethical tools.
FitzPatrick (2006) singles out four principles, which are rooted in such documents as the Constitution, Amendment I, and the Bill of Rights. They are the principle of fair access, that of public trust, the principle of objectivity, and the principle of safety and security. According to the researcher, these principles comprise a “Unified Theory of Ethics for American Policing” (FitzPatrick, 2006, p. 20). The police imply making important decisions every day, and not all of them are ethical.
It is essential to preserve the reputation of our department. Therefore, all the officers should make ethically-informed decisions. Moreover, it is necessary to make critical decisions and evaluate their possible consequences. For example, our officers have to make decisions at some critical points. Thus, when an arrest of a criminal is planned, an officer should make critical decision not to frustrate an operation. Another critical situation for ethical decision-making is the collection of evidence. Frequently, experienced officers are guided by their intuition and not by the available facts. In such circumstances, an officer should be critical and able to act ethically avoiding the temptation to plant evidence. Finally, conduct in court is also an issue which demands critical and ethical decisions. It is crucial to state evidence clearly and precisely, without attempts to invent information to mislead the investigation.
The situation in our department can have several ethical breaches. The first issue is related to planting evidence, which is unacceptable. I can see your reasons for doing so, and I am convinced such conduct can be prevented. You can be guided by a desire to put a criminal to prison, and there is no enough evidence. This situation can lead to an ethical breach. Another ethical breach includes lying in court. Doing so is both unethical and illegal. Still, it is also explained by a desire to succeed in achieving a sentence for a criminal. Finally, there is a breach which allows officers to falsify the reports. The officers can follow the goal to invent some information about the criminal or the crime to make it look more serious or to focus on their contribution to the case.
Still, I insist that there are alternative methods, which can provide ethical and at the same time effective alternative responses to the mentioned ethical dilemmas. For example, instead of planting evidence, it is possible to organize a stakeout for a suspect to find the proofs of his or her guilt. Another opportunity to obtain evidence is infiltration into the criminal world. Nevertheless, the last variant cannot be used on a daily basis. An ethical alternative to lying in court can only be not lying but preparing a set of evidence to convince a judge and jury that a criminal is guilty. Finally, falsifying police reports should be avoided. Creation of true reports with real data instead of falsified is likely to contribute to information exchange within the department because data from the reports are used to form general reports and can also be used to trace tendencies.
The expectations put into police officers are high. Thus, they are expected to be responsive, competent, and set clear purposes (FitzPartick, 2006). It is evident that there is a need for a set of ethical principles that would guide the officers. The adherence to ethical principles looks even more important in the context of the fact that some officers are guided by the “noble cause,” which is usually not ethical and is, in fact, another crime. Probably, there is a need for special educational programs for police officers similar to those developed for public sector leaders (Holmes, 2012). A course similar to that of Masters of Public Administration can provide the police officers with the leadership skills necessary for their effective work.
What is more, the development of policy guiding ethical conduct of the officers can be applied. It can be created and analyzed using the guidelines provided by Hoppe (1999). After all, another effective tool to use I police is technological innovation. Micheli, Schoeman, Baxter, and Goffin (2012) analyze business models for public sector innovation. Still, these models apply to other spheres including police.
I do expect you to behave ethically-sound. I suppose you would not consider a problem preparation of true reports without any false data. I also hope you are going to stop lying in court since it is not only unacceptable for an officer, but also illegal and cam results in punishment. Finally, I believe there will be no need for falsifying evidence because your professionalism would allow you finding real evidence necessity for every investigation. I am convinced that your dignity of the officers will guide your ethical conduct and critical decisions that will be beneficial for everyone. It is evident that demands for the police are unprecedentedly high at present. Police officers face legal, social, and political challenges every day. Moreover, they need to make critical decisions and provide solutions to some cases and situations. I believe you can accomplish the role of a police officer.
Colonel Pat Bacon, the director of the department of state police.
FitzPatrick, D. P. (2006). Moving beyond the noble cause paradigm: Providing a unified theory of ethics for 21st century American policing.
Holmes, M. H. (2012). Rising the ranks of public sector leaders: Results of a national survey of executive masters of public administration programs. Public Personnel Management, 41(3), 449-463.
Hoppe, R. (1999). Policy analysis, science and politics: From ‘speaking truth to power’ to ‘making sense together.’ Science and Public Policy, 26(3), 201-210.
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Micheli, P., Schoeman, M., Baxter, D., & Goffin, K. (2012). New business models for public-sector innovation: Successful technological innovation for government. Research-Technology Management, 55(5), 51-57. Web.