Ethical Concerns

Ethical Concerns

Ethical concerns in the police department may prove to be a challenging issue especially to the new members of the police force. This is because they are torn between wanting to please the other officers in a bid to fit in and gain acceptance and at the same time, they want to do their work in an uncompromising manner. The issue is made difficult when junior members of the police force are teamed up with older members. In case something goes wrong and the older officer is in trouble, the partner may find himself in a dilemma. Telling on the partner is seen as will mean that other officers will not respect him and may not want his or her company. On the other hand, if the truth is eventually known the officer may be punished. The officer may run the risk of loosing his or her job, getting a demotion or assigned duties that may seem demeaning.

How an officer deals with ethical dilemmas determines whether he or she is behaving ethically. Ethical dilemmas are determined as situations where officers do not know the proper action to take, they find it difficult to choose between right and wrong and they find the wrong choice very tempting. Officer George Miller involvement in taking the offender’s money was criminal. There are times when responsibility supersedes loyalty. If I choose to hide the fact that Officer Miller took the money, it would be the same as supporting what he did and I would be part of the crime. There are certain risks that will come as a result of this decision. Safety is a major concern for whistle blowers especially if the officer who is involved is a long standing officer. Miller has worked in the force for twenty years. During this time, he has made a lot of friends and acquaintances, some of them in very senior positions. On the other hand, I do not have any influence in the police force. I may be seen as an ambitious officer whose aim in life is to rise higher and be promoted.

Choosing to tell on Miller will be the greatest sacrifice not only to my career, but I may also face threats in my life. I also face the risk of being isolated at the work place and the change of duties. Despite the costs that I have to pay, it is worth the risk. Facing a jail term and being suspended from work is worse. Though Miller may have worked in the police force for twenty years, he may have crossed paths with some of the officers. There is also the possibility that he does not perform his work in the best way possible. This is because he is still assigned patrol duties and he has been teamed up with a junior officer. After this many years in the force, one would expect of him to be promoted to a much senior position. The leaders in the force may not condone his behavior and may reprimand him for it, though his other colleagues may not see in the same way. There is a chance that I will keep my job and possibly get rewarded for it.

Some of the reasons that lead to ethical problems in the force may include lack of proper training, greed and lack of supervision (Gaines & Miller, 2008). Strong leaders are concerned with their followers. The leaders whose main agenda and aim in life is to protect and cover up the department are more likely to punish the whistleblowers. However, those whose concern is to serve the public and ensure that work is carried out effectively will do what they can to make the organization operate in an effective manner. They will therefore protect and support the whistleblowers and possibly reward them for the work they have done. They are also more likely to punish the officers who are involved in criminal activities (Pollock, 2008).

The objective of patrol is to control crime and reassure the law abiding citizens that they are safe. The altercation at the local pub could have been due to drunkenness and it may have resulted into something worse. It was wrong for the suspect to resist arrest but he made it worse when he fought with Miller. In this case, Miller was justified to use force though he could have use other means other than using his gun. The fact that he shot the suspect on the leg shows that the intention was not to kill; he was only looking for a way to stop the suspect. Coming forward would actually mean defending Miller. Since the suspect died there is a high probability that Miller will be sued in court for murder or manslaughter. Miller would have to face a review board and he would have to justify his use of a firearm.  As his partner, it would be my ethical duty to tell the truth. Miller would probably have a hard time explaining why he did not use other alternatives. Since there were two of us on patrol, I would also have to face the board and explain why I did not help in apprehending the suspect using other means. Officer Miller did not show excessive use of his firearm. He only shot at the suspect once and he did not aim at his upper body. His agenda was not to take his life but he was shooting to wound (DiCanio, 2004).

Different police departments have different policies when dealing with police use of deadly force. The departments which have set up stringent rules of reporting what happened during shootouts have established particularly low levels of cases where the law enforcement agencies are accused of deadly use of force (Kane, 2007). Patrol officers should make every effort to avoid the use of firearms. There are other options available especially when dealing with violent suspects who do not possess firearms. Every officer has an ethical duty to report the wrong doing of his or her partner. Failure to do so means injustice to the law abiding citizens and to other officers who are willing to carry out their duties effectively. If the police departments can have strong and ethical leaders, then the other officers would not have a problem abiding by the rules (Lee & Vaughn, 2010). The officers who choose to act ethically face the risk of being ostracized. This is however a cost that they have to be prepared to pay.





DiCanio, M. (2004). Encyclopedia of violence: Frequent, commonplace, unexpected. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse

Gaines, K. L., & Miller, L. R. (2008). Criminal justice in action. Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning

Kane, J. R. (2007). Collect and release data on coercive police actions. Criminology and Public Policy, 6 (4) 773 – 780

Lee, H., & Vaughn, S. M. (2010). Organizational factors that contribute to police deadly force liability. Journal of Criminal Justice, 38, (2) 193 – 206

Pollock, M. J. (2008). Ethical dilemmas and decisions in criminal justice. Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning

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