Ethical Issues in Law Enforcement essay

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J. Simpson or John Gotti. In both cases, the defendants are entitled to the presumption of innocence only in court; but there is no such "presumption" in the intellectual "court" of one's mind.

A lawyer with integrity would refuse to represent any defendant he believed was probably guilty of horrendous crimes and simply let that defendant be represented by a court-appointed attorney who is obligated by law to represent any defendant who cannot afford a private attorney. If all criminal defense lawyers had high personal ethical standards, the Simpsons and Gottis of the world would find it impossible to retain any defense counsel other than those obligated by law to take their cases.

4. Define and briefly explain ethical dilemma. Of the four categories of dilemmas: discretion, duty, honesty and loyalty, which one applies best to the following situations? Explain your rationale. Also, explain how an officer might analyze the situation from a utilitarian and deontological perspective, utilizing all the factors.

A. Whether or not to tell a supervisor of another officer that you see verbally abuse citizens (with no apparent reason) on a regular basis.

This is primarily a dilemma of professional duty because the officer is duty bound to report violations of official department policy and procedure. It is also a dilemma of honesty because the choice not to report the conduct is impliedly dishonest by virtue of the elements of the officer's professional oath pertaining to following lawful commands and department policy that require reporting the abusive conduct.

From a deontological perspective, the officer is obligated to report his coworker because the conduct violated the rules of the department. The strict deontologist would value upholding established rules in all cases; even the non-absolute deontologist who might justify certain violations of rules for just cause would have no choice but to report the conduct under the given facts. This would be the best course of action.

From a utilitarian perspective, the officer might decide not to report the officer under certain circumstances, such as where the officer in question does extremely valuable police work and the abusive conduct, while offensive and hurtful, does not actually cause tangible harm the way physically beating or falsely arresting innocent citizens would.

B. An officer had an accident where there were no witnesses. Since he hit a fixed object, the officer was at fault but he did not want to be subject to disciplinary action. The officer was deciding whether or not to suggest another car cut him off to explain how the accident occurred.

This is also primarily a dilemma of professional duty because the officer is duty bound to report accidents on duty by official department policy and procedure. It is also a dilemma of honesty because the choice not to report the accident is overtly dishonest. Naturally, it is also a violation of the officer's professional oath pertaining to following departmental rules pertaining to accidents on duty and/or involving department vehicles.

From a deontological perspective, the officer has no choice but to report the accident simply because it is a violation of department policy as well as vehicular code not to report a vehicular accident on public property. From a utilitarian perspective, the officer might justify violating the law and departmental rule reasoning "no harm, no foul." Finally, if there was damage to the vehicle, the moral utilitarian officer might do the same thing but then pay to repair any damage to the department vehicle out of his own pocket without reporting the accident. Since there were no injuries or private property damage, this might be the best course of action.

C. You are the police chief of a small town. One of your recent recruits has been discovered taking kickbacks from a tow truck business for accident referrals. In every other regard the officer seems to be an excellent employee. The complaint was brought to your attention by a rival tow truck business but has now become common knowledge in the department

This is primarily a dilemma of professional duty because the police chief is duty bound to report violations of official department policy and procedure, and improper use of police authority and position for personal gain.. It is also a dilemma of honesty because the choice not to report the conduct is impliedly dishonest by virtue of the elements of the police chief's professional oath pertaining to following the law and department policy with regard to reporting serious violations of this nature. The police chief could justify exercising discretion by requiring the officer to divest himself from the improperly earned income and direct him to turn it over to the towing company that lost business because of the officer's conduct.

That might be the approach taken by the utilitarian, because that solution would

rectify the harm caused to the towing company and because it is in the community's best interest to allow the officer to continue his otherwise good service. From that point-of-view, the decision to report the officer or bring formal charges against him could cause more harm than it solves by depriving the community of his continued service. The deontologist would favor reporting the officer because it is harder to justify that any exculpating or necessary justification existed. On the other hand, the very liberal non-

absolute deontologist could also decide that the harm to the community of losing the officer could cause more harm than it solves and also avoid formal action.

Finally, the fact that the situation is already public to the extent that the other tow company knows about it could change the decision in all cases. That could also raise issues of loyalty of the police chief to the department. If the story got out publicly, it could cause much greater harm to the police department. Finally, since the situation is

known in the department, failure to take decisive action could undermine the chief's credibility or even set a course of similar conduct among other officers.

Under the utilitarian view, that concern would be extremely important because of the degree of harm to the department and the community if the worst case scenario. It is similarly unlikely that the non-absolute deontologist would justify anything other than formal charges for the rule violation based on any benefit of not taking formal action against the offending officer. Given the facts, the best course of action would probably be to take formal action against the officer for the benefit of the entire department in light

of the problems it could cause if publicized outside of the department and because of the harm caused within the department if other officers believe that such conduct is…[continue]

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