Ethics and Code of Conduct

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Integrity and ethics are fundamental aspects of law enforcement.  According to Williams and Arrigo, (2011).Ethics relates to the good or bad as per the set society standards. They are the moral principles that of an individual’s behavior. Law enforcement agents are held to a higher standard than the public. Part of the duty involves being above reproach when on or off duty. Scholars often argue that no other profession demands a higher ethical standard than law enforcement. It is apparent that law enforcement attracts a high degree of expectations placed upon police officers. Ethics and integrity are crucial to my future career in law enforcement for a myriad of reasons.  Firstly, researching for ethical conduct and integrity guides an individual into becoming more aware of moral and ethical issues he or she might encounter in the future. In doing so, a person becomes more prepared to face future challenges. Secondly, ethics and integrity shape personal responsibility. In this regard, a person takes charge of responsibilities and is accountable for specific actions (McCartney, 2015). For instance, when an individual is entrusted with evidence, he or she learns to treat it as such and does not take the goods as his or her own. One can substantiate between the good and the bad. Thirdly, an individual learns how to use authority in the right manner without impunity. For instance, law enforcers may use their power to intimidate people in public places. However, integrity and ethics eliminate such behavior.

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Two aspects in which morality, ethics, and law differ in how they affect the decisions of the local law enforcers are based on consequentiality and deontological theories. Deontological theories focus on the right thing seen in actions and whether the actions conform to the relevant moral obligations or duties (McCartney, 2015). The moral duties and obligations include crime, criminal justice, and ethics.  The moral decision framework comprises values, principles, and facts such that practical conclusions are achieved. The three differ in decision making since values represents a set of standards for an individual’s behavior that guides people on how they should act or how they should respond to specific situations.  Morality, on the other hand, is the society’s values and belief about what is right or wrong. The code of ethics is the stipulated formal values, identified desirable character traits that enhance moral decision making as per the core values. Law enforcers, therefore, avoid decisions based on individual interest or character traits such as honesty or courage. Ethics helps law enforcers make sound judgments in all areas of their work performance.

There are a variety of ways in which law enforcers should use morality, ethics, and code of conduct in both their personal or professional lives. Police officers have an obligation to ensure that the citizens are safe and secured and at the same time ensure their security. It is also up to the law enforcers to ensure that while they professionally present themselves, they must not cheat, lie or steal (Braswell et al., 2017). Neither should they use their authority to acquire favors or intimidate the citizenry. Such responsibilities as realized in their professional lives can be transferred to their personal lives as well. Once they engage in impunity in their own lives, it becomes hard for the public to take them seriously in their professional lives. Their actions are deemed hypocritical if they acquire a different personality in their professional lives. In this regard, law enforcers should maintain morality, ethics and obey the law at all times.

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There are two significant aspects of the Milwaukee code of conduct that relate to the local law enforcement. First, the code identifies a police officer as an official government representative entrusted within the law, the duty to safeguard the community’s lives and property and to maintain peace while ensuring that the people have the right to liberty, justice, and equality. In this case, a rogue officer taints the government’s image which he or she represents.  In recent examples, police brutality or excessive use of force highlighted in the media makes the whole police force to get a backlash from the public since the department is judged as a whole, rather than a single individual. The second important aspect of the code of conduct entails maintenance of integrity where an officer is expected to perform duties impartially without bias or ill intentions. For instance, an officer should not use ill informed judgments to oppress an individual to their race, color, gender or sexual orientation among other things. In addition, integrity prevents the officer from using personal feelings, friendships or animosities to influence official conduct.  In this regard, laws are enforced that maintain police responsibility while ensuring the public is protected. For instance, a police officer should not arrest a man solely by being bisexual or gay. As much as the police might be against such practices, personal biases are not allowed when conducting law enforcement. It is important to treat individuals as equal in the eyes of the law. In different circumstances, a police officer should not let a criminal walk scot free just because he or she is a public figure or a celebrity. Law enforcement entails a high degree of professionalism.

It is apparent that ethics, morality, and law differ in the way officers use them to make decisions. However, all the three aspects are tailored towards ensuring the well being of both the citizens and the police is provided. Ethics serves as a basis in which people can utilize to make informed decisions and choices. Morality, on the other hand, defines what is right or wrong in the eyes of the people and the society by extension. The laws or code of conduct is a bench mark in which the police can refer to before embarking on the decision-making process, as informed by the law. Police officers are regarded with high degree. Therefore they should strive to ensure that respect, integrity morality and ethics are maintained in private and professional lives. The research is significant to all law enforcers currently and in the future.

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  1. Williams, C. R., & Arrigo, B. A. (2011). Ethics, crime, and criminal justice. Pearson Higher Ed.
  2. McCartney, S. (2015). Ethics in Law Enforcement. BCcampus Open Textbooks.
  3. Braswell, M. C., McCarthy, B. R., & McCarthy, B. J. (2017). Justice, crime, and ethics. Taylor & Francis.
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