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Police Ethics and Law Enforcement Conduct Codes: the 1st stop in fighting officer deviance & corruption

"The Sheetrock scandal": authorities acknowledged 18 Dallas 'drug' cases involved nearly 700 pounds of wallboard material. In each case, after allegedly seizing the powder, officers falsified arrest reports that field tests showed it was cocaine.

The reading "Ethics and Codes of Ethics" is from John Kleinig's The Ethics of Policing (Cambridge University Press). Kleinig examines the history of police codes of ethics and places it within increasing police professionalism and a general growth of professional codes of ethics: "We are required increasingly to put our trust in people and organizations to whom we are significantly vulnerable and over whom we are able to exercise relatively little control" (p 234). 

The Appendix to Criminal Justice Ethics is "Professional Codes of Ethics" further discusses the power professionals have over people's lives and the responsibility to exercise it fairly. The reading covers a variety of ethics codes, both the specific wording and the relationship between guiding principles and specific rules. The Appendix thus provides good background and numerous points of comparison with the law enforcement codes that Kleinig discusses.  

See also - Street Cop Ethics: Advice and Discussion Questions

International Association of Chiefs of Police

Ethics Training in Law Enforcement - Ethics Training Subcommittee of the IACP 

Ethics Toolkit: Enhancing Law Enforcement Ethics in a Community Policing Environment

POLICE DEVIANCE & ETHICS Tom O'Connor's site provide an excellent overview of problems from favoritism to malfeasance. It discusses the myth of the rotten apple, and issues perjury and brutality. 

Dr O'Connor asks his classes to look at his Police Humor page, follow some of the links, read the jokes, and " explain why some jokes would, in August Vollmer's words, have a deteriorative effect on police ethics and the profession as a whole".

Police Ethics Resources from Freedom to Care, which embraces all workers who were victimized, or were in fear of victimization, for speaking up in the public interest. (see also

Domestic Violence by Police Officers

 “Shielded from Justice : Police Brutality and Accountability in the United States” A report from human Rights Watch

Understanding and Preventing Police Corruption: Lessons from the Literature (England's Home Office - 65 pages, 1.2 MB pdf file)

“Law Enforcement ethics - the Continuum of Compromise" a framework for understanding and teaching how the transition from "honest cop" to "compromised officer" can occur.

International Police Codes and Issues (John Jay Inst for CJ Ethics, which has a useful set of police ethics links)

California Peace Officer's Association

police being ethical?

“Ethics Based Policing - Undoing Entitlement" 

One of the greatest challenges facing law enforcement administrators today is the creation and maintenance of a values-based agency consisting of an ethical cadre of officers and supervisors. One major challenge to maintaining such an agency is that over the course of a police career every department can expect it's officers to be exposed on a daily basis to individuals and situations that violate the values these officers hold central. This exposure over time can be expected to leave an emotionally corrosive impact.

One of the central traits to values deterioration is the development of a culture of perceived "Entitlement". This belief would permit law enforcement officers to rationalize and justify to themselves behavior that is clearly unacceptable and would warrant enforcement action if engaged in by members of the community at large. Entitlement is the belief that an individual by virtue of his/her position as a law enforcement officer is owed certain privileges or latitudes in terms of their behavior, "those rules really don't apply to us". The old military adage of "rank has it's privileges" would represent one example of "Entitlement" that appears to be accepted within that culture and possibly is only an expression that certain positions of authority are afforded additional respect in proportion to additional responsibility. A belief develops that "you owe us cops for all we put up with on the streets to serve and protect you". Pride in being able to serve as a member of a given police agency is not entitlement. The belief that as a member of a police agency " we're special and the rules don't apply to us" is however, "Entitlement". 

Buy CJ Ethics

Public opinion polls about police and criminal justice (Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics)

Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics (John Jay)

Small Mercies: A Former Officer Reflects on Police Discretion in Malaysia

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