Answer.com- was “Ethics, in philosophy, the study and evaluation of human conduct in the light of moral principles. Moral principles may be viewed either as the standard of conduct that individuals have constructed for themselves or as the body of obligations and duties that a particular society requires of its members”. Peak states simply that ethics is “doing what is right or correct and [the term] is generally used to refer to how people should behave in a professional capacity”.
Absolute ethics- which basically states that something is either good or bad, or black and white. Relative ethics- is what one person considers ethical another may not. It is true that not all cases are clear cut, and in some communities do seem willing at times to tolerate extra-legal behavior if a greater public good is served.
Noble-cause corruption- define this type of behavior as “Corruption committed in the name of good ends, corruption that happens when police officers care to much about their work. It is corruption committed in order to get the bad guys off the streets, to protect the innocent and children from predators that inflict pain and suffering on them. It is the corruption of police power, when officers do bad things because they believe that the outcomes will be good” (p. 2).
In many cases no clear line separates acceptable and unacceptable behavior. While it is ok to lie to a suspect who is the target of a criminal investigation, is it ethical to do so? Does it end there, are does the unethical behavior get to the point where it is almost automatic. Does this in turn lead to other unethical behaviors by the individual?
This is the type of lying where an officer may lie to get a warrant, or they may conceal certain facts in regards to an investigation to get charges filed on an individual. Can become second nature, and as new officers come up through the ranks and are trained by these unethical officers the cycle tends to start all over again with the new officer unless they are already highly ethical already and refuse to be a part of such unethical behavior.
The acceptance of gratuities by officers (free meals, free drinks) also can lead to more serious unethical behaviors later down the road. There are two basic arguments against police acceptance of gratuities. First is the slippery slope argument. In addition, officers who accept minor gifts or gratuities are then obligated to provide the donors with some special service or accommodation.
While I disagree that a person can be trained to be ethical, I think it has to already be a part of their inner being or personality, I do think that it is not a bad idea to reinforce the expectations of the department via training in ethical matters. The organization needs to articulate its values and attempt to shape the standards of professional behavior within their organization.
Ideally, our judges are flawless. They do not allow emotion or personal biases to creep into their work, treat all cases and individual litigants with an even hand, and employ “justice tempered with mercy.” Many judges recoil at the need for a code of judicial conduct or an independent commission to investigate complaints. Living by the code is challenging; the key to judicial ethics is to identify the troublesome issues and to sharpen one’s sensitivity to them, that is, to create an “ethical alarm system” that responds.
Defense attorneys - also must be legally and morally bound to ethical principles as agents of the court. Prosecuting attorneys- contrary to popular belief the primary duty of a prosecutor is not that or she should win a case, but that justice shall be done. Other court employees- primarily known as confidential employees these individuals have a special role in the court system and work closely with a judge or judges.
Many correctional officers find themselves facing the same types of ethical dilemmas as police officer do. There are without a doubt powerful forces in operation within the prison that shapes the behavior of the correctional officer than just the administrator, legislative decrees, or agency policies. Correction officers threatened by the work group to keep the knowledge of an unethical act to themselves and not to report it to supervision. What the administrator needs to understand is that the group has both power and loyalty features for the correctional officers; it is a part of the subculture of corrections.
Test of common sense- does the act make sense or would someone look askance at it? Test of publicity- would you be willing to see what you did highlighted on the front page of the local newspaper? Test of one’s best self- will the act fit the concept of one’s self at one’s best?
Test of one’s most admired personality- what would one’s parents or minister do in this situation? Test of hurting someone else- will it cause pain for someone? Test of foresight- what is the long term likely result?