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Police Ethics and Misconduct Essay

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Updated: Jul 31st, 2020


The police officers are the representatives of the legal system, as they ensure the order in the society (Dempsey & Forst, 2016). Despite the obligations, one cannot underestimate the existence of corruption and misconduct of people in this profession. Consequently, the primary goal of this paper is to discuss the issue of corruption and other forms of misconduct in the police.

The Code of Ethics

In the first place, according to the Code of Ethics, the police officer has to be a representative of the law enforcement system and “protect the constitutional safeguards” (Dempsey & Forst, 2016, p. 231). It focuses on the appropriate actions of police and their compliance with the law system. Following these principles helps avoid misunderstandings and ethical issues in the future. At the same time, it ensures the order in the society and helps minimize crime levels.

In this case, there several factors, which assist in assessing the ethical standards. For instance, the actions of the police have to correspond to the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics and internal systems (Dempsey & Forst, 2016). Apart from the official entities mentioned above, the ethical standards have to comply with the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States of America (Dempsey & Forst, 2016).

Using multiple approaches assures that a low percentage of police officers are involved in misconduct and ethical issues. As for me, discovering the Code of Ethics in detail helps to see the principles of law enforcement systems from the inside. It is critical for me, as I plan to pursue my career in the field of criminal justice. Consequently, understanding these ethical standards helps me discover the potential lawsuits from different angles and highlight whether the actions of a police officer are ethical.

Police Corruption

Despite the importance of the Code of Ethics, police corruption is present in various forms. Taking advantage of the position and committing various crimes might be one of the cases. For instance, the officers of the Los Angeles Police Department were convicted of organized crimes with the intention to free the city from the murders and gangs (Dempsey & Forst, 2016).

The reasons for their actions were taking advantage of their professional position, lack of control of the law enforcement system, positive social environment for corruption, disorganization of the community related to a substantial gap between low and high-income levels, and police structural features. A combination of these social, political, economic, and personal factors have a positive impact on the development of corruption among police officers.

In turn, corruption might be represented in the form of getting various services and products for free, bribery, theft, and burglary (Dempsey & Forst, 2016). Simultaneously, corruption can be internally organized when the officers work together as a group to gain financial benefits. Furthermore, the officers can perform their actions solely without any additional parties involved in the process. Furthermore, noble cause corruption implies that police officer might take advantage of his/her position and violate the law to save one’s life (Dempsey & Forst, 2016).

It is often referred to as the most common kind of corruption, as police officers are often engaged in similar activities. Lastly, corruption will have a reflection on the ethical principles inside the police department, damage the reputation of the police officers in the society, and question the ability of the police officers to comply with the concepts of law enforcement system. In this case, it not only harms individual reputation but also creates a wrongful perception of the police officers in the society.

Other Forms of Police Misconduct

Alternatively, other forms of misconduct might include the support and coverage of the drug trade, sleeping on duty, and providing false information to the court (Dempsey & Forst, 2016). In this case, these violations of the Code of Ethics often take place due to the lack of supervision. At the same time, sleeping on duty pertains to high levels of stress and fatigue (Dempsey & Forst, 2016). Meanwhile, support for the drug dealers and falsification of testimony are the suitable sources of the additional income.

In turn, police officers are often reported with the sexual violence (Dempsey & Forst, 2016). In the United States of America, the police officers might use force to ensure that a criminal complies with the legal system. In this case, sexual violence is one of the examples of the police taking advantage of their position while causing physical and psychological harm to an individual.

Biased Based Policing and Police Brutality

Other issues related to police misconduct include biased based policing and brutality. In this case, biased based policing implies that the opinion of the police officer might be prejudiced by race or gender (Dempsey & Forst, 2016). In the United States of America, it is often presented in the form of racial profiling. The case of Louima could be viewed as one of the examples, as the police officer made his assumptions based on the race of the tortured individual (Dunham & Alpert, 2015). This incident had risen the social concerns of police brutality and could be viewed as one of the first steps in the redesign of the ethical standards.

In turn, police brutality is the most common violation of the law by the police officers. It is still present nowadays and takes place in the form of physical force (Dempsey & Forst, 2016). Alternatively, it can also be represented by intimidation and false accusations in the committed crimes (Dempsey & Forst, 2016). In this case, the actions of the police officers are driven by the positive intentions, as their primary goal is to ensure the compliance of the citizen’s actions with the law enforcement system. One of the instances is the brain damage caused by the police officer “using a Teaser” on the victim in Painesville (Dunham & Alpert, 2015, p. 196).

Ways to Address Police Corruption

In the first place, the police department can restrict the control to minimize the level of corruption. The actions of the police officers can be controlled with the assistance of supervision, changes in professional culture, and secret camera recordings (Dempsey & Forst, 2016). At the same time, one cannot underestimate the involvement of the public in the anti-corruption movement of the police officers. The citizens should report all potential violations of the Code of Ethics by the police officers to minimize the spread of misconduct. At the same time, the administration can constrain the actions of the officers and toughen the punishment for the violations.

Based on the factors highlighted above, it remains apparent that the corrupted officers have to be held liable for their crimes. In the first place, the officer can be arrested for the violation of the order in the community. In turn, he/she can be sued while relying on the civil law concepts of negligence (Dempsey & Forst, 2016). At the same time, causing physical harm and murder are states of the criminal law, and, in this case, the officer can be prosecuted in the case of being proven guilty.


Dempsey, J., & Forst, L. (2016). An introduction to policing. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Dunham, R., & Alpert, G. (2015). Critical issues in policing: Contemporary issues. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

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