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ETHICS AND PROFESSIONALISM GPSTC Regional Police Academy Macon Instructor Mike Deems.

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Presentation on theme: "ETHICS AND PROFESSIONALISM GPSTC Regional Police Academy Macon Instructor Mike Deems."— Presentation transcript:

1 ETHICS AND PROFESSIONALISM GPSTC Regional Police Academy Macon Instructor Mike Deems

2 Objectives Identify the characteristics of ethical conduct Identify the characteristics of ethical conduct Identify the characteristics of a profession Identify the characteristics of a profession

3 Ethics and Professionalism The law enforcement officer is the most visible member of the criminal justice system, and, as such, has frequent opportunities to publicly demonstrate objectivity and ethical standards. The successful, professional officer acts in a manner that reflects a belief in the fundamental value of ethical behavior and conducts daily activities in an objective manner striving to be uninfluenced by emotion and personal prejudice.

4 This chapter deals with two major values – objectivity and ethical behavior, of particular importance to the criminal justice system and their practical application in what professional law enforcement expects and demands of its personnel.

5 Professionalism of the Service A professional law enforcement officer is identified by his or her conduct, knowledge, and obligation toward service. In working toward professionalization of law enforcement, the four distinguishing characteristics of a professional group must be understood. A common fund of knowledge A common fund of knowledge Certain standards or qualifications Certain standards or qualifications Some type of organization Some type of organization Standards or conduct Standards or conduct

6 The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) has been instrumental in providing a common fund of knowledge. Georgia is now one of the leading states in the nation in police standards and training.

7 Objectivity Objectivity involves the expression or use of facts without distortion by personal feelings or prejudices. Objectivity involves the expression or use of facts without distortion by personal feelings or prejudices. If the officer becomes aware of personal feelings, prejudices, and other elements of his or her personality, the first step has been taken toward introducing objectivity into behavior. If the officer becomes aware of personal feelings, prejudices, and other elements of his or her personality, the first step has been taken toward introducing objectivity into behavior. Law enforcement officers and other criminal justice personnel, even when they are not on duty, stand out as representatives of the system. Law enforcement officers and other criminal justice personnel, even when they are not on duty, stand out as representatives of the system. The standards by which they are judged, even in their private lives, are often higher than those required for other members of society. The standards by which they are judged, even in their private lives, are often higher than those required for other members of society. Practicing objectivity in private life makes it easier to practice it in professional life. Practicing objectivity in private life makes it easier to practice it in professional life.

8 Law Enforcement Ethics Ethics stems from the Greek word “ethos” and involves the definition and achievement of what is good or bad, right or wrong, in relation to moral duty and obligation. Ethics stems from the Greek word “ethos” and involves the definition and achievement of what is good or bad, right or wrong, in relation to moral duty and obligation. For example, if a person refrains from stealing only because he or she fears prison, that individual cannot be viewed as ethical. For example, if a person refrains from stealing only because he or she fears prison, that individual cannot be viewed as ethical. Peace officers have been entrusted with regulating the conduct of a “free people”. Peace officers have been entrusted with regulating the conduct of a “free people”. It is the obligation of such officers to live up to this trust by setting an example and conducting themselves in an ethical manner. It is the obligation of such officers to live up to this trust by setting an example and conducting themselves in an ethical manner. Law enforcement officers have taken an oath to uphold the law. Law enforcement officers have taken an oath to uphold the law. If they break the law, they have broken both the law and the oath. If they break the law, they have broken both the law and the oath.

9 Self Accountability There are more than 17,000 law enforcement agencies in America There are more than 17,000 law enforcement agencies in America 1022 agencies in Georgia with law enforcement powers 1022 agencies in Georgia with law enforcement powers Those agencies employ approximately 54,013 officers Those agencies employ approximately 54,013 officers Most do not have a systemic corruption problem Most do not have a systemic corruption problem Only about 3% of those officers violate, which translates to 1400 officers Only about 3% of those officers violate, which translates to 1400 officers

10 In FY 2005 there were 1408 reported officer violations 291 were publicly reprimanded 291 were publicly reprimanded 96 had their certifications suspended 96 had their certifications suspended 442 had their certifications revoked 442 had their certifications revoked 408 had their certifications put in a state of probation 408 had their certifications put in a state of probation

11 Unethical Conduct

12 Dishonesty Of all the unethical acts, this is considered by most to be the most degrading and usually involves a theft of some kind. Misuse of credit cards Misuse of credit cards Conversion of governmental property to private use Conversion of governmental property to private use Misuse of fringe benefits Misuse of fringe benefits Picking up property at crime scenes Picking up property at crime scenes

13 Brutality Brutality is simply an assault under color of authority and should be dealt with swiftly by professional departments through dismissal of the officer involved followed by the filing of criminal charges. Brutality most frequently involves: Excessive force Excessive force Use of abusive language Use of abusive language Unnecessary destruction of property Unnecessary destruction of property Withholding of individual rights Withholding of individual rights

14 Racial Prejudice There is no place in law enforcement for anyone who cannot publicly control his/her prejudices. Law enforcement personnel are hired by the people of their communities to do a job for the people regardless of their race, religion, or political affiliation. It is interesting to note that when officers need help in a tight situation, they care little about what race the officer represents who comes to assist them.

15 Conversion of Prisoners’ Property This act of theft occurs in jails and on the street in custody situations. Most commonly the victims are drunk, but the thefts also involve vehicle storage in accident and arrest situations.

16 False or Colored Testimony The unethical officer, if not falsely testifying, may just stretch the facts to his or her advantage. If the officer does not have the facts, he should simply admit it. All facts that are pertinent to the case should be disclosed regardless of whether they are favorable or unfavorable to the prosecution or the defense.

17 Violation of Laws and Regulations Officers of law enforcement agencies have no more right to violate laws than any other citizen. The most common violations relate to vehicle laws and use of the highways. As peace officers, we strive to gain voluntary compliance of laws by the public. One way to accomplish this is to set the example.

18 Violation of Civil Rights Officers should strive to protect: Unreasonable or illegal searches Unreasonable or illegal searches The right to an attorney The right to an attorney Reasonable bail Reasonable bail Advice of other rights Advice of other rights

19 Discourteous Conduct The officer should conduct all citizen contacts on a highly professional scale, being businesslike and firm but friendly It is never necessary to get the last word.

20 Divulging Confidential Information Information gained through reading departmental reports and information obtained during investigations is confidential. Other information gained through observation while on patrol, although not the subject of an investigation, should also be treated confidentially if it could adversely affect the private lives of individual citizens.

21 The Opposite Sex The opposite sex has always represented an occupational hazard for law enforcement officers. Male officers’ frequent contacts with waitresses, nurses and department employees often result in assignations not in the best interest of the department or the individuals involved. Male officers’ frequent contacts with waitresses, nurses and department employees often result in assignations not in the best interest of the department or the individuals involved. Often, even greater problems arise as a result of stops of traffic violations and crime victims. Often, even greater problems arise as a result of stops of traffic violations and crime victims. No chief of police or sheriff is happy to hear the complaints of irate husbands and wives regarding the conduct of his officers. No chief of police or sheriff is happy to hear the complaints of irate husbands and wives regarding the conduct of his officers.

22 The Opposite Sex (cont) Female officers tend to develop relationships with the male officers rather than the public. Female officers tend to develop relationships with the male officers rather than the public. Obviously, illicit sexual relationships develop between people of all occupations, but such relationships are certainly unethical when they develop or are conducted while officers are on duty. Obviously, illicit sexual relationships develop between people of all occupations, but such relationships are certainly unethical when they develop or are conducted while officers are on duty.

23 Accepting Gratuities and Chiseling The practice of accepting gratuities, chiseling, or mooching is universally the most widespread form of unethical conduct of peace officers. The practice of accepting gratuities, chiseling, or mooching is universally the most widespread form of unethical conduct of peace officers. A peace officer has no right to receive anything of value from anyone other than the employer for a service he or she performs in the course of employment. A peace officer has no right to receive anything of value from anyone other than the employer for a service he or she performs in the course of employment. An officer should consider the difference between a free cup of coffee and an envelope containing $5,000 in case not as the value offered but in terms of the reason for the offer and how the officer’s position will be compromised if either is accepted. An officer should consider the difference between a free cup of coffee and an envelope containing $5,000 in case not as the value offered but in terms of the reason for the offer and how the officer’s position will be compromised if either is accepted.

24 Accepting Gratuities and Chiseling (cont) The same arguments are presented for accepting half- price or free meals, and they are no more convincing than the attempts to justify free coffee. The same arguments are presented for accepting half- price or free meals, and they are no more convincing than the attempts to justify free coffee. Officers will attempt to justify the acceptance of free coffee or meals due to the embarrassing conversations resulting from trying to pay for the items. Officers will attempt to justify the acceptance of free coffee or meals due to the embarrassing conversations resulting from trying to pay for the items. Ethical problems are not always seen. Once a peace officer begins to explain away such behavior, it becomes easier and easier to graduate from accepting the free cup of coffee to items of much greater value. Ethical problems are not always seen. Once a peace officer begins to explain away such behavior, it becomes easier and easier to graduate from accepting the free cup of coffee to items of much greater value.

25 Preventing Unethical Behavior There are a number of methods: Careful screening and selection of new employees Careful screening and selection of new employees Background investigation Background investigation Adequate training Adequate training Adequate probationary periods Adequate probationary periods Inspired leadership Inspired leadership Elimination of the unethical officer from the law enforcement profession Elimination of the unethical officer from the law enforcement profession


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