Ethics in Criminal Justice: The Police Function Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Ethics in Criminal Justice:

The police function has continued to be the most needed elements since the beginning of the existence of human societies because social coordination and harmony have never prospered without some kind of supervisory authority. The supervisory authority or power has usually been shared among several agencies or departments including policing. These various departments have been planned and synchronized to provide the service efficiently and effectively. Since its inception, policing have been mandated with the task of identifying and convicting criminals. However, the police have been expected to have an increasingly wider social role in acting as crisis managers or problem busters. As the police have been faced with numerous moral challenges, there are various theories that have been developed to describe ethics within the field of criminal justice.

Slippery Slope and Gratuities:

One of the long-standing and controversial practices within the police force is police gratuities where sworn officers have been offered unsolicited largess. The situation has not only been debated across legal and moral perspective but has also been scrutinized since the commencement of policing. The origin of police gratuities can be attributed to the early days of law enforcement when police gratuities were provided through a fee-for-service system. In this system, a citizen would be required to pay a specific fee for the police to recover stolen goods and arrest the offender in case his/her property was stolen.

Nonetheless, the fee-for-service system was soon abolished since the police was regarded as a public entitlement, which implied that limiting its service to only individuals who could afford to pay would result in the emergence of social injustice (Andrews, 2004). The elimination of the system is also based on the belief that public services should be equally availed to all citizens. As a result, the acceptances of gratuities that law enforcement officers are offered can be considered as corruption.

An example of a concept that is linked to police corruption is the slippery slope since corruption begins with any gratuity such as the common free cup of coffee. The concept of slippery slope is the most common argument used to advocate for the no gratuity policy. This argument is linked to corruption or gratuities because it's any gift, discount or benefit that an individual receives by virtue of their profession. The link between the slippery slope and police gratuity is that the acceptance of even the smallest benefit is likely to provoke and encourage an inevitable slide toward serious corruption. For instance, while it is not wrong for a police officer to accept a cup of coffee, the cumulative effect of the practice can be very great. This is mainly because the provider of the cup of coffee will eventually obtain an unequal amount of police service than other individuals. Actually, such individuals sometime receive an uneven amount of police service at the expense of other citizens.

The slippery slope hypothesis basically states that corruption starts with the seemingly harmless and well-meaning practices and continues over time to every manner of crimes-for-profit (Delattre, 2002, p.70). These practices can either develop in individuals or departments through the practice of police gratuities. Consequently, the police service…

Sources Used in Document:


Andrews, W.C. (2004, June). Police Gratuities, Public Perception after September 11, 2001.

Retrieved April 12, 2013, from

Delattre, E.J. (2002). Character and cops: ethics in policing (5th ed.). Washington, D.C.:

American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

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