Professionalism is the aim, conduct or qualities that characterize a vocation that requires advanced training in some liberal art or science. It is characterized by service to others, assessment of the client’s needs, practice as well as ethical conduct. Many confuse the term especially when it comes to law enforcement with a soft image, cool, aloof officer with no feeling, crisp uniform, and using high tech as an expert at fighting crime. Responsibility on the other hand is defined as assuming accountability for an action, task or a decision.
Professionalism and ethics
Professionalism in the police force has several positive impacts that include good service to the public, better pay for the constables, ethical conduct, strong community support as well as respect and a stronger role in a Criminal Justice System. In ethics, the aspect that matters is doing things in the rightful way irrespective of the individual in question.
Ethics refers to a system of moral principles and a branch of philosophy that defines what is good for individuals as well as the society (Glomseth, Gott & Petter, 2011, p. 112). This brings about the question of whether police professionalism is based on education or ethics in the minds of many a people.
In providing an answer to such a question, a study has been done that confirms that many of the officers in the law enforcement have minimum education for the job but very advanced as far as ethics is concerned. Their moral standards are incomparable. Carter in his book says that, “Our high tech world is dictating the recruitment of more highly educated officers. College-educated officers appear to be more analytical, hence they are more objective with the public” (1989, p. 76).
In this regard, education plays a pivotal role in ensuring the delivery of quality service. With the current state of advancement in technology, officers who are not well educated will be rendered obsolete. Some police officers around the globe have embraced social networks in curbing crimes.
Even those without web-enabled phones have designed a way of receiving tweets as text messages. Following the above description, professionalism entails the provision of good services within a given jurisdiction. Ethics on the other hand has been broken into several categories, which include Integrity, Honesty, Values, Morals, Principles, Standards and Courage.
According to Lt. Andrew Barolle, “integrity is the core of ethics that binds the other elements together” (2005, p. 65). He argues that continual reinforcement and education are essential in enhancing the officers’ integrity. He also acknowledged honesty as one of the pillars in enhancing effective enhancement of the law. Values are a system of beliefs meaningful to us and that determine what is vital to us hence controlling our manner of conduct.
The other ethical category is moral which determines what is right from what is wrong. Additionally, principles are essential in the portraying the core values within the police force. When one is exposed to a difficult situation and it happens that he does the right thing despite personal or professional consequences, he is said to be courageous. Courage makes one face a challenge with confidence and self-possession. The courage is either physical or moral.
Physical courage includes facing armed suspects and handling them as required while moral courage is evident when one refuses free meals, refuses to indulge in gender based humor as well as refusing gratuities among others. Officers ought to be thorough equipped and trained on how to handle difficult situations before it happens. Paul Strong says that, “this type of training increases and builds integrity in the officers and promotes the ethical standards they are expected to uphold” (2005, p. 70).
According to Travis, there are certain factors that are characteristic of police professionalism (1997, p.15). These factors include justice, wisdom or rather prudence, courage as well as ones’ sense of responsibility. When one is arrested, the decisions governing law enforcement, prosecution and passing of a judgment are made using the guide of what is right and just for the people or person in question.
Policing is a way of curbing crimes in a more community-based manner. According to Jones and Newburn, there are several aspects that are involved in policing (1998, p.58). They include the maintenance of the rule of the law, peacekeeping and investigation of crimes among others.
The police force plays a major role in tackling and eliminating crimes in the society, streets and the nation at large for their role according to Newburn is “Concentration on maintenance of law and order as well as prevention and detection of offences” (Newburn, 2008, p. 15).
Many other professionals are involved in the same task though the police force is the major organ that deals with the maintenance of law and order in many nations. Others include community police who work hand in hand with the police to ensure that order is maintained in the community level. They act as brokers between the police and the community for a better relationship (James, 2011, p. 135).
McLaughlin and Muncie argue that “Community policing holds out the promise of reduced levels of crime and disorder, improved quality of life for the community, a supportive environment for police operations and greater job satisfaction for police officers” (2006, p. 167). They also deal with responding to stressing calls from distressed community members as well as handling anti-social behaviors in the community.
Others that handle the same tasks as the police include the security guards who not only guard property but also people from hazards. They ensure that people do not get involved in criminal activities. This ensures that the police have easier tasks in maintaining law and order in the society. It gives them sufficient time to enhance their skills through training sessions (Broome, 2011, p. 140).
This kind of policing is said to evolve, develop, take root and grow in a continuous manner unlike many people’s perception that it starts in a new fiscal year. The process emphasizes on citizen participation and interaction in solving community problems. The police are involved in every bit of crime prevention including the fear of crime that negatively affects the public’s perception of security matters in a community setting.
In order to ensure that the much anticipated policing is achieved, the relationship between the police and the community needs to be streamlined. Training the community on their role in maintaining law and order in the society is essential in enhancing the co-operation of the two parties. Trust between the police and the community will ensure that the people have a say on how their streets are policed thus rendering the constables accountable locally.
The locals ought to know that the police are actually there for them and have confidence that there is ethics and integrity in the criminal justice system. Policing would be hard and impossible if it was working in isolation. It should be delivered in partnership with the public but with key agencies at the local level and across the criminal justice system.
Challenges that the police encounter
The police are faced with multiple challenges in their line of career that range from being rejected by the people in the community they work from to having to stay calm when faced with a hard situation that can cost them their lives. The police are known to be crime-fighters and doing dangerous jobs that require them to outsmart the challenge.
They are supposed to outdo their enemies and the enemies of the community as a whole irrespective of their political, cultural and social backgrounds. In as much as they maintain law and order, the police have other responsibilities that range from social responsibilities to political responsibilities. The police are responsible for giving first aids to the needy as well as finding lost children.
This does not in most cases call for the use of firearms. On the contrary, it needs emotional care and concern. In curbing crimes in the community, the police carry out criminal investigations as well as patrols (Chakerian, 1974, p. 145). They also care for the needy, resolve conflicts, protect constitutional guarantees, to reduce the opportunities for the commission of some crimes, to promote and to preserve civil order.
The police should never mix personal gratifications with the performance of their duties. This is because the short-term goals of personal promotions or incentives and/or an agency to get their budget approved can ruin the good work and the most important task of taking care of the entire nation. This can jeopardize the sacred love, peace, unity and harmony of the entire nation.
It would obscure the long-term goal of crime eradication, justice for all and protection of the individual’s right. The sole beneficiary of all these should be the public. In correction of the perpetrators of the rights of the others, the police make arrests and forward them to the courts of law without infringing their rights at any one given time during the arrest or even thereafter (Liqun, 2011, p. 56).
The lawbreakers’ right to justice is paramount and the police, while contacting any investigations, are supposed to put this into consideration. They are not supposed to cook evidence or force others to give false evidence. They are not supposed to use force the convict to bow down to the crack of the whip.
Ethical concerns in sentencing include predictions and discrimination. They predict whom to issue greater punishment to the other. The purpose of prediction is to discriminate those offenders who deserve more punishment. They discriminate against race, sex, age and even socioeconomic status.
Punishment based on predictions is derived from an earlier criminal record, which mostly is based on race and sex. “There is growing evidence that discrimination in sentencing can be controlled through guidelines or other decision-making aids” (Wooldredge, 2009, p. 79).
The problem of sentencing in prediction could be less serious in practice than in perception, but the perception persists widely. The ethics of sentencing can be stated as a question of justice in which case the need to know what just punishment is and when to impose punishment justly.
Von Hirsch says that, “While people will disagree about what justice requires our assumption of primacy of justice is vital because it alters the terms of the debate. One cannot, on this assumption, defend any scheme for dealing with convicted criminals solely by pointing to its usefulness in controlling crime, one is compelled to inquire whether that scheme is a just one and why” (1976, p. 5).
Crime control policy
Crime control policy calls for more police in the streets or imposing longer sentences. Research shows that the more the policies there are in place to control crime the more the problems that can be foreseen by the law. The crime control policy needs to be amended to enhance discipline among the offenders. Research has shown that more than 70% of the inmates in the nation’s prisons are not there for the first time (Reiman, 1997, p.32).
In conclusion, the police play a pivotal role in the maintenance of law and order in any nation. Their task is crucial. A small portion of abuse of office can cost lives and this is the reason as to why every nation has a code of ethics that govern the conduct of individual police officers.
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