Law enforcement ethics
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LAW ENFORCEMENT ETHICS. Means vs Ends Dilemma. is an approach to ethics that focuses on the rightness or wrongness of intentions or motives behind action such as respect for rights, duties, or principles, as opposed to the rightness or wrongness of the consequences of those actions.

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Law enforcement ethics


Means vs Ends Dilemma

Deonological vs utilitarian

is an approach to ethics that focuses on the rightness or wrongness of intentions or motives behind action such as respect for rights, duties, or principles, as opposed to the rightness or wrongness of the consequences of those actions

the moral worth of an action is determined solely by its contribution to overall utility: that is, its contribution to happiness or pleasure as summed among all persons - the moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome: put simply, the ends justify the means

Deonological vs Utilitarian

Ethics in a democracy
Ethics in a Democracy

  • While consequences are important, the basis of a democratic society includes the notion that process is an integral part of a democracy and therefore, the basis for evaluating the behavior is the means not the ends

Forms of behavior
Forms of Behavior

  • Ethical

  • Organizational/Political

  • Legal

Sources of ethics
Sources of Ethics

  • Justice

  • Law

  • Agency Policy

Sources of standards
Sources of Standards

  • Law enforcement code of ethics and codes of professional conduct

  • Organizational standards – established by departments and by state & national commissions

  • Procedural and substantive laws – established by appeal court rulings and by legislation

Why are ethical standards an issue
Why are Ethical Standards an Issue?

  • Social Contract

    • Protection based on control mechanisms that contribute to the maintenance of order in return for surrendingin certain rights

    • Government collectively represents the society as a whole and appoints agents (police) to enforce the control mechanisms

Social contract cont
Social Contract (cont)

  • Privileges granted to government include permission by the people to develop strictly limited processes and procedures

  • Society expects that the government will protect citizens, respect the rights of citizens, and appoint agents who have the integrity to protect citizens and adhere to the conditions of the social contract

Police roles
Police Roles

  • Protector

  • Crime fighter

  • Service provider

What constitutes a good police officer

What constitutes a Good police officer?

Based upon Principles of Justice

Principles of justice
Principles of Justice

  • Fairness

  • Rule of Law

  • Behavior


  • Uphold the law regardless of who the offender is and not single out special groups

  • Cannot use the position to take advantage of people

  • Must avoid gratuities which could give the appearance of special treatment

Rule of law
Rule of Law

  • Police are tools of the constitution and are mandated not to go beyond or supplant rule of their own

  • Not concerned with law breakers, but their own behavior must be within the bounds of law.

  • Police behavior must conform to the dictates of law and policy


  • Police officers must at all times and all places maintain a high standard of behavior consistent with the position of a public servant

  • Practice higher standards of behavior in their public and private lives than most other people

Why is ethics important
Why is Ethics Important

  • Play an important part of the internal image of police

  • Play an important part in how the police are perceived by the public

  • Ensure self-respect in the individual officer

  • Mutual respect among officers

What is integrity
What is Integrity?

  • Acting in ways consistent with an ethic

What is police deviance
What is Police Deviance?

  • Sex on duty

  • Sleeping on duty

  • Drinking/chemical use on duty

  • Sexual harassment

  • Quid-pro-quo harassment

  • Hostile work environment

What is police corruption
What is Police Corruption?

  • Takes place when an officer receives or is promised significant advantage or reward for:

    • Doing something he/she is under duty to do any way

    • Doing something he/she is under duty not to do

    • Exercising a legitimate discretion for improper reasons

    • Employing illegal means to achieve approved goals


  • Personal rewards

    • Money

    • Gifts

    • Access to power

  • Organizational rewards

    • Promotion

    • Peer support

    • Approval of Superiors

Slippery slope
Slippery Slope

  • Process of developing a “moral career”

  • Passing through various stages of rationalization to more serious misdeeds in a graduated and systematic way

  • Once a person gets past the first moral crisis, it become less difficult to rationalize new and more unethical behaviors

Why are deviance corruption problems
Why are Deviance/Corruption problems?

  • Erosion of public service

  • Falloff of confidence in government competency

  • Overall lack of public trust and credibility

  • Constant displays of lying, cheating, theft, etc. create Cynicism and threaten even the strongest code of ethic – especially when carried out by member of the criminal justice system






Premeditated Theft



Opportunistic Theft

Corruption of Authority – Chiseling


The Fix

Direct Criminal Activity

Internal Payoffs

Combative Corruption


Preventing corruption
Preventing Corruption

  • Positive Leadership

  • Political Influence

  • Authority and Responsibility

  • Policies and Procedures

  • Internal-Affairs units

  • Field Associate Programs

  • Turning

  • Integrity Testing