Deontology and Consequentialism In Policing

Deontology is basically an ethical system in which the morality of a person is determined by laws and duty. Here, the morality of the person is not very important. Their action may be moral or immoral.Consequentialism on the other hand is the moral situation where the people’s happiness is seen as the best desirable situation. This is where the consequences are determined by the actions. (Spielthenner, 2005)

A deontologist may condemn am armed robber of breaking the moral law that states that stealing is not allowed. On the other hand, a consequentialist may blame the same thief that their action, forceful acquisition of another person’s property, is wrong and has caused a great harm.

In deontology, a problem may be solved before it happens while in consequentialism, a problem is solved after an action has been completed and it [provides a corrective measure of what ought to have been done.(Spielthenner, 2005)

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Deontology is applied in policy in a very significant way. When one does something good, its outcome is basically not very important because the action is already ethically sound and acceptable; the same happens when one does something undesirable, the outcome of their actions won’t matter because their ethical behavior is already ethically unacceptable.(Alexander & Moore, 2007) An example in this case, when you are a police officer and during your patrol hours, you find children throwing snow balls at each other by the road side, you pull over and tell them the consequences and danger of their action. They apologize for their misconduct but minutes after you leave they proceed with the same behavior. One of the drivers this time gets distracted and loses control. Unfortunately, he hits some pedestrians by the road side. In this case, will you, the police officer, be liable for the kids’ actions?  In the deontological system, you will be considered innocent. This is because despite the fact that the actions you chose resulted to grave consequences, your previous action was just. (Alexander & Moore, 2007)

Consequentialism as well is applied in policy as describe in the below illustration. Take for example you are a drive of a train. While speeding up to the yard, your notice there are several people jack hammering and haven’t seen you approach. Your trials to slow down do not yield any fruit. One of the workers is on a different track while the other five are on the other track. You have two options, either to remain on the same track and kill all the five workers or shift to the other track and kill one worker. You have two options, either to remain on the same track and kill all the five workers or shift to the other track and kill one worker. The decision will solely lie on your hands. You will obviously shift to the tract with one worker. The dilemma in this case is to weigh the consequences of your actions.  (Howard-Snyder, (1993)

Ethics in policing is a very important component. This is because the police integrity coupled with ethics is very effective as it helps to build trust between the police and the community. When the police carry out their daily duties with integrity, it enhances communication, improves community interactions and gives the community the morale to carry share the responsibility of enhancing security with the police.

Read Also Defining Police Ethics

This has been put in place in different ways. This is by use of diverse meanssuch as

  • focusing on building the trust between the citizens and the police
  • Addressing the expectations and implementation of citizen\police mediation programs such as citizen police resistance.
  • Addressing issues of police legitimacy, truth-telling and racial reconciliation.
  • The police are trained to be fair in their jurisdiction in that they vow to act with composure and courage and face all challenges with tolerance and self-control. (Kleinig, (1996)
  • Respect is considered one of the main core values of the police in that they vow to handle every person with the respect they deserve and respect the human dignity and law so as to maintain the public confidence.
  • They are also trained to respect all human rights by ensuring that their actions respect and operations abide by the same. (Prinsloo,&Kingshot, 2004)

It is thus evident that consequentialism and deontology both solve problem by using different criteria to get to the same conclusion. The difference between the two of them is however very important to note.

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