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Integrity and Ethics in Law Enforcement

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There are numerous integrity and ethical issues that arise in law enforcement, issues that are unique to the profession; and in order to prevent corruption among the rank and file, and ensure the success of any agency, it’s important that leaders and supervisors be held responsible for their deficiencies. Weaknesses in both recruiting and training are considered to be direct contributors to integrity and ethics issues, however, the major perception is that systematic elements which set the groundwork for corruption are the direct result of police subculture, management, supervision, administration, or the accumulation of all four; with all levels of law enforcement leadership supporting some element of unethical behavior, and in turn creating an attitude of “us against them”. It’s imperative that the foundation for regulating officer behavior rest with supervision, whereas department accountability needs to start and end with the department’s administrators (Fortenberry, 2015).

The Controversy

The development of ethical law enforcement leaders is an ongoing process, constantly to be improved upon and maintained in order to curb unethical behavior and corruption within their departments; a behavioral problem that without the acquiescence of superiors cannot be corrected.

Pro Side of the Controversy

As law enforcement leaders set the tone for both department policy and ethical behavior, it’s imperative that supervisors and leaders be both properly trained and motivated in order to mentor and infix high standards within their departments. Strong moral behavior at supervisory levels sends a clear congruous message to those displaying questionable moral behavior, that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. Therefore it’s important that effective leaders who share the same view for an ethical department, set standards for rank and file to emulate, as those leaders who neglect both ethical behavior and integrity, demonstrate to their staff that neither they, nor their agency, are concerned with proper officer conduct. One of the most important means of monitoring and improving officer conduct is through effective supervision; in order to prevent misconduct before it occurs, supervision is critical, just as it is in detecting misconduct.

Con Side of the Controversy

Once a void in ethical leadership takes root, substandard and unethical officers seem to gravitate to the vacuum, engaging in situations both internally and externally that violate criminal statute, both within and without their agency.

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Unlike police corruption, which is recognized as an officer using his position for financial gain, the abuse of police authority can be outlined into three types of police misconduct…..Police crimes, which can be defined as situations in which police officers violate criminal statute, either internally, within their agency, or externally. Both are examples of unethical behavior, and emanate from three separate factions…. (1) Physical abuse, abuse composed of physical harassment and excessive force; (2) psychological abuse, abuse through intimidation, harassment, contempt and disrespect, and last (3) legal abuse through the misuse and twisted enforcement of search and seizure, Miranda and evidence tampering; and that these abuses of authority can be outlined into three types of police misconduct…. (McCafferty 1993).

Abuse of power, which can be physical brutality used to intimidate in order to coerce or frighten, psychological abuse used to intimidate and deceive, and legal abuse such as perjury, evidence tampering or witness intimidation (Fyfe, Kane 2006). The strongest correlation between officers and dishonesty, is the level of dishonesty found within the agency, supervisors, leaders and administrators; the question is how to recognize and address corruption from the top on down. Although officers are able to relate to standards becoming of a “good officer”, the challenge is to establish a situation in the department in order to uphold and/or maintain high standards of ethical conduct.

Supervisors engaged in contemptuous behavior, or lack of action regarding subordinate misconduct, effectuate an environment supporting corruption, denials, cover ups, deception and other forms of unethical activity. This contemptuous behavior displayed by supervisors can have an adverse effect on subordinates, resulting in ever growing distrust, dysfunction and diminished integrity, as well as assimilated behavior characteristics (McCafferty 1993).

Tentative Thesis Statement

One of the most important means of monitoring and improving officer conduct is through effective supervision; in order to prevent misconduct before it occurs, supervision is critical, just as it is in detecting misconduct. High standards of ethics and integrity have to be maintained to promote departmental accountability; this can only be achieved through high standards of ethical leadership and professional conduct involving leaders who are capable of demonstrating core values.

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Integrity and Ethics in Law Enforcement. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 26, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/integrity-and-ethics-in-law-enforcement/
“Integrity and Ethics in Law Enforcement.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/integrity-and-ethics-in-law-enforcement/
Integrity and Ethics in Law Enforcement. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/integrity-and-ethics-in-law-enforcement/> [Accessed 26 Sept. 2022].
Integrity and Ethics in Law Enforcement [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 09 [cited 2022 Sept 26]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/integrity-and-ethics-in-law-enforcement/
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