Police Misconduct and Ethics
Learning Objective 7: Explain why police officers are allowed discretionary powers.
Learning Objective 8: Explain what an ethical dilemma is, and name four categories of ethical dilemmas that a police officer typically may face.
i. Police officers have freedom to decide “what law to enforce, how much to enforce it, against whom, and on what occasions.” This judicial support of police discretion is based on the following factors:
i. Police officers are generally considered trustworthy and are therefore assumed to make honest decisions, regardless of contradictory testimony by a suspect.
ii. Experience and training give officers the ability to determine whether certain activity poses a threat to society, and to take any reasonable action necessary to investigate or prevent such activity.
ii. Due to the nature of their jobs, police officers are extremely knowledgeable in human, and by extension criminal, behavior.
iii. Police officers may find themselves in danger of personal, physical harm and must be allowed to take reasonable and necessary steps to protect themselves.
|What If Scenario
What if . . . you were the police chief of your town, and you discovered that police officers were frequenting a small grocery market because they heard that the owner gave free coffee and discounted groceries to police officers who came into the store wearing their uniforms. Police officers did not ask for freebies, but neither did the owner have a “policy” of providing freebies. When you interviewed the grocery store owner, he stated that he did it because he worried that if he didn’t, police would not come to his store if he called 911. How would you handle this problem? What level of accepting of gratuities by police officers is ok with you as a supervisor, if at all? What are the potential problems that may come as a result of allowing such activities?
A. Police Corruption