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Ethical Theories And Personal Values In The Rookie Officer’s Conflict

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The deontological theory would best suit the scenario involving the rookie officer and the dilemma created by his partner. Deontological, also referred to as duty-based ethics, has the primary focus on the individual’s actions, not on the consequences of their actions. This ethical theory would be effective with the rookie officer’s conflict because it addresses that some acts are right or wrong because of the sorts of things they are, and people have a duty to act accordingly, regardless of the good or bad consequences that may be produced. This is important for the rookie officer to reflect upon and to act accordingly. It is the rookie officer’s moral obligation to follow through or ‘duty’ to report to the prosecuting attorney and explain what actually happened the evening of the robbery, regardless of the consequences that may reflect negatively on the officers involved.

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Separating personal morals from ethics is a tough process. This is something that I believe that the rookie officer had an inner struggle with, and why the robbery case has progressed to the trial stage without any intervention. A person perceives a problem first and establishes how it should be separated, and by prioritizing and collecting all the facts about the dilemma to weigh out personal bias. Is it an issue that they alone can deal with or is it a problem that could potentially affect others as well? Lastly, who does this problem involve? Family, friends, coworkers, etc.

This is important for the rookie officer since a law enforcement officer has a professional code of ethics to follow. Personal feelings do not need to cloud that commitment the officer swore to. The only time morals would be acceptable to follow in this situation if it came down to a life or death scenario or feeding a hungry child. Saving another’s life would be acceptable to break ethics and feeding hungry children fall similarly in the same category. Life and death scenarios are self-explanatory, but if the children are not fed they will eventually starve to death, so they might as well have something to eat in their bellies. Duties The steps I would take to determine whether or not to approach the prosecuting attorney are:

  • Identify the fact that I am faced with an ethical problem.
  • Subconsciously collect the facts and events of what occurred. Specifically, in this scenario, the senior officer ignored orders by his superior officer, forced an illegal entry into the residence of the robbery suspect, an illegal search and seizure, and falsified the police report. The case is now in the trial phase and the defense is filing to suppress evidence due to an illegal entry, with the report stating otherwise.
  • Reflect on my personal values and respect to my badge and workplace. Consider the repercussions of allowing the case to go to court with the report staying as it is and keep quiet or report to the prosecuting attorney and explain what actually happened.
  • Apply my knowledge of ethical principles appropriately.
  • Identify my available options. To stay quiet or to speak up.
  • Make my decision based on an analysis of the ethical problem. I would set up a meeting with the prosecuting attorney to discuss what happened the night the defendant was arrested. This is the best course of action because it is doing right by the defendant’s due process rights. By approaching the prosecuting attorney before the fact this may give them the opportunity to reach a plea bargain before the court date.

Whatever happens to the officers involved, it is the right thing to do. It is my duty as an officer of the law to follow the code of ethics that I swore an oath to. According to IACP (n. d. ), the following were violated: I will be exemplary in obeying the law and the regulations of my department, I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, political beliefs, aspirations, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities, I will never engage in acts of corruption or bribery, nor will I condone such acts by other police officers.

Fortunately, my ethical responsibility and personal viewpoints align about the same. If they did conflict, I would have to reevaluate the factors involved for whatever scenario or dilemma I am dealing with. Deciding with the outcome that does what is right by the books, not what benefits the most people in the end. This scenario in particular wouldn’t benefit with a unilateralism theory mindset. Without ethical standards, it can be fairly easy for one in the criminal justice field to act impartially, and without knowledge of ethics, criminal justice professionals may be naïve about moral issues occurring within the criminal justice system.

Society’s changing views on acceptable behavior has altered rapidly in the past decade and will continue to do so. Concerning the criminal justice system, however, for an act to be considered deviant it all depends on whether or not society deems it to be so. Criminal justice professionals must stay up to date and adapt to the ever-changing process that society creates. For example, until the 1960’s homosexuality was considered unacceptable behavior and could result in legal prosecution, loss of job, violence from others, and many ended up dead. Today this is no longer the situation and cases are processed in the criminal justice system for civil rights for homosexuals not as hate crimes against them.

18 March 2020

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