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ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR EMERGENCY SERVICES MANAGERS Marla Graff Decker Deputy Attorney General JD, EMT-C Commonwealth of Virginia.

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Presentation on theme: "ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR EMERGENCY SERVICES MANAGERS Marla Graff Decker Deputy Attorney General JD, EMT-C Commonwealth of Virginia."— Presentation transcript:

1 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR EMERGENCY SERVICES MANAGERS Marla Graff Decker Deputy Attorney General JD, EMT-C Commonwealth of Virginia

2 n Ethics for Leaders n The Role of Ethics in a Public Safety System n Where to Start?

3 Ethics for Leaders n n The number one rule - which is commonly echoed in all management courses - is: “Lead by example.”

4 n “Ethics” is derived from the Greek word “ethos,” which means “character”

5 n “Character” is defined as “the combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person from another.” It is also defined as “the public estimation of the person — reputation.”

6 n Ethical behavior is the display of moral attributes l judgement l behavior l self-discipline l character

7 n n However, what “ethical behavior” really boils down to in it’s simplest form is: l Knowing the difference between right and wrong and behaving accordingly

8 Character Traits Reflect Ethics n Honesty n Courage n Compassion n Even-handedness n Respect for Others

9 n The end of the 20th century brought with it a public outcry for ethical behavior by leaders! n Why?

10 Why the Call for Ethical Leaders? n The O.J. Simpson trial n The Clinton Administration Scandals n The Florida Voting Ballots n The initial exposure of criminal behavior by big corporate executives

11 What did the 21st Century bring to the table? n Y-2K Phobia n “ENRON,” etc…….. n September 11th, 2001 n Post-September 11th Scams n Post-ENRON settlements n Differing opinions relating to Iraq n Allegations of inappropriate treatment of prisoners by U.S. military

12 Ethics Vs. Law n n Ethics is not simply a question of legality n n Something may be legal, yet unethical

13 n Although the question of whether something is legal must be addressed, that is not the end of the story …

14 n Many forms of unethical behavior are entirely legal

15 The Role of Ethics in a Public Safety System

16 n n Personnel Management in the public sector is very different from personnel management in the private sector. n n This is particularly true in the public safety arena

17 n Ethical behavior is paramount in all areas of Public Safety n Citizens must be able to believe in the dignity and moral fiber of public safety professionals

18 n Public Safety Leaders face three different levels of ethical concerns:

19 First n n Personal – ones own behavior

20 Second n The Behavior of Officers-- all line supervisors

21 Third n n The behavior of each member of the Agency or Department

22 Ethical Behavior - Subjective in Nature n Like the legal definition of pornography l “You know it when you see it!”

23 Ethics - Where to Start? A Code of Ethics

24 Code of Ethics n How many of your Public Safety Agencies have a Code of Ethics? n How many of those Agencies require all employees to sign a Code of Ethics? n What do they sign? Read/Agree

25 Code of Ethics n n Does the Code of Ethics just sit on the shelf?

26 Code of Ethics n Was the Code of Ethics developed by management, rank-and-file, committee, or “other governmental entity” (like the state Attorney General)?

27 Code of Ethics n The current popular theory is that a Code of Ethics should be developed by a committee within the Agency/Department, even if that committee simply ratifies the Code of Ethics in place for the State, City, County, or Town n It is all about “ownership” of the final work product

28 Types of Codes of Ethics n Two Basic Types l Compliance Based l Integrity Based

29 Compliance Based Code of Ethics n This type of Code deals with punishment, or punitive measures n The emphasis is on “unlawful” or inappropriate behavior n It also focuses on avoiding legal problems n It centers on protection of the Department/Agency

30 Integrity Based Code of Ethics n This type of Code deals with “core values” n It promotes integrity of the individual n It goes beyond simple legal considerations n It does not stress punishment n It defines the “internal fiber” of those who make up the Department/Agency

31 Integrity Based Codes Promote ethical behavior and create a work environment that encourages appropriate behavior by all of the stakeholders

32 What are the “Core Values” of The Department/Agency n Honesty n Integrity n Fairness n Commitment n Moral Excellence

33 What Type of Code of Ethics is Preferable? n My Opinion — Integrity Based Code of Ethics n Why? l Public Safety Employees Respond Better to Positive Reinforcement l “Type-A” Personalities l Core Values are already important to those involved in Public Safety

34 Regardless of the Type of Code of Ethics n All employees should be required to read it during probation n All employees should be required to agree to its terms n It should be included in ongoing training

35 Along with Knowing the Code ……….. n The terms and provisions of the Code of Ethics must be strictly enforced n All employees must be held responsible for their actions

36 n n Ethical situations are one of the most difficult management challenges n n Ethical issues rarely create yes/no choices

37 Some Common Ethical Issues That Should Be Contemplated

38 n Conflict of Interests n Confidentiality n Use of Position for Personal Gain n Personal Contracts n Outside Employment n Personal Investments n Use of Government Time n Behavior On Duty and Off Duty n Discriminatory Practices Some Common Ethical/Legal Issue

39 Job Performance n Employees of the Agency/Department shall perform their duties earnestly, efficiently, economically, and honestly. They shall always have the citizens’ safety and interests at heart and will not act in a manner that will bring shame or adverse publicity to the Agency/Department.

40 Statement of Affirmative Action n No employee, during the performance of their duties, shall discriminate against any person on the basis of race, religion, sex, marital status, color, creed, ancestry, sexual preference, medical condition, handicap, or national origin.

41 The Aftermath of September 11th, 2001

42 September 11th n How do the tragic events of September 11th fit into a discussion of ethics?

43 n n News flash for the American Public! n n Wake-Up call about what Public Safety personnel do …

44 n As citizens rushed out of the Towers, Emergency Services Providers rushed inside

45 Public Safety Professions Are Back in the Press n The 1950’s mentality of “I want to be a police officer or firefighter when I grow up” came back n “Our True American Heroes” was plastered everywhere n Media coverage of public safety entities expanded 10 fold

46 Media Coverage Means n Emergency Services - in the spotlight – sometimes good/sometimes bad n Public awareness translates into public support n Nevertheless, more ethical issues have developed in light of increased media interest n The role of the Attorney General has greatly increased.

47 Questions? References include Fire Service Personnel Management, Steven T. Edwards Brady/Prentice Hall Health © 2000 Chapter One and Miscellaneous Public Reports

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