The analysis was based on the interview that was conducted on one sheriff Jackson Bonner and a chief probation officer Mark Brent. Jackson Bonner work as a law enforcer at Sherriff office, Montenegro County. He was first employed in 1981 and has worked in investigation, correction and patrol division. In 1981, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and transferred North Lake Substation to work in investigation and patrol division. In 1995, he was further promoted to the position of lieutenant and three years he attained the rank of captain a position he served for seven years before being promoted to the rank of undersheriff and posted to the Auburn area. This first interview was conducted via a telephone, which was more convenient to the interviewee.
The second interviewee was Mr. Mark Brent who had served as an adjunct professor in Weber State University, Ogden Utah. At the time of interview, he was a director of the inmate placement program in Draper, Utah. He was in charge of 22 county jails. Mark Brent had previously served as regional administrator for adult parole and probation at both Ogden and Salt Lake City. He is a holder of associate of science degree in criminal justice from Salt Lake Community College, a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice from Columbia College as well as Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management from Webster University. Similarly, the second interview was conducted via telephone. All the two interviewees were exposed to six questions regarding the ethics and character of the law enforcers.
The importance of ethics and character in the field of law enforcement
Both interviewees reiterated that ethics play important role in ensuring that there is good collaboration and fairness in all departments. Sherriff stated that he was able to relied on his partner while on duty because they are bound by the same ethics and character as spelt out in the code of conduct for the police department (Folkestad, 2008). The first interviewee believes that ethics and character in the field of law enforcement serves as a point of references that each law enforcer is required to observe at all times. In addition, the society trust law enforcers based on the ethics and character they portray to the public. According to Jackson Bonner, “since we are responsible for enforcing law and order in the society, we are required to set a good example to the public by abiding to the law and exhibiting good character.
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Similarly, probation officer stated that “ethics and good character in parole department is something that was monitored every time because the correctional facility is the place where law breakers are corrected and shown how to live in the society by abiding to the law and order. As a result, any employee who fall short of ethics and good character are punished accordingly without fear and favor.” He indicated that each officer in the correctional facility is expected to have high integrity in the society. He emphasized that “ethics and character is very important because we value right action over wrong ones as well as good things as opposed to bad things.” In simple terms, correctional officers must practice what they preach and advocate for in probation.
Whether the police are more ethical now than they were a decade ago or vice versa
According to Jackson Bonner, police are more ethical than they were in the past decade because of the improved technology. He stated that “10 years ago police officers used excessive force against the African American and wrote a report indicating that he/she resisted arrest. However, now days there are a lot of cameras in the streets, the patrol cars as well as body cameras which gives a clear picture of how the events unfolded. In addition, penetration of mobiles phones with cameras enables the citizens to record any incident that occurs in their surrounding and share it with the rest of the world through social media. As a result, a police officers would not be able to argue against the video for using excessive force against colored man and say he resisted arrest. Due to these developments I can say that police are more ethical now than they were in the past 10 years.”
The second interviewee stated that there is no enough supporting evidence that indicated that police are more ethical now than they were 10 years ago. According to Mark Brent “lack of sufficient training about ethics was the main issue that affected the performance of the law enforce.” Studies have indicated that lack of requisite training affects the morale of the officers as well as the strength of the solidary of the leadership and the junior officers in the correctional department.
Reasons that make police officers to get involve in misconduct
According to Jackson Bonner, there are several reasons that make police officers to get involve in misconduct, but the major reason is about the financial difficult. Analysis have indicated that police officer tend to look for side jobs to supplement their financial constrain something which is not allowed in the police department. However, the first interviewee reiterated that the entire police department should not be condemned for the action of few rogue officers because there are good police officers out there who risk their life to protect the properties and life of the citizens (Ishak, & Bakar, 2012). The other aspect that make police officer to involve in misconduct is by hanging out with bad people who engages in undesired activities. These temptations make the police officers to get involve in misconduct.
From the perspective of Mark Brent, gratuities, fame and money are the major reasons that make police officers to involve in misconduct. For instance, if the gift was given to police officer in order to solicit extra police service or for some future expectation of services to be rendered, then rejection would be the only choice. Nonetheless, there is an active debate going on the public about the gifts and gratuities that should be acceptable among the police officers. It is therefore the responsibility of the public to enact the regulation and policies that govern receipt of gratuities and gifts by the police officers (Folkestad, 2008). In addition, Mark Brent believes that training should be individualized in order to minimize complexities arising from the training. He argued that individualized training helps the officer to understand the working environment of the correctional facilities hence preparing them to handle the obstacle and challenges encountered in the work place.
Whether the interviewees feels that there is enough training offered in ethics at the police academy level
According to the first interviewee, there is no enough training offered in ethics at the police academy level. He stated that “all law enforcement should have some sort of college education or military experience before becoming an officer.” These training would help the police officer to maintain high integrity while performing their duties. Therefore, the training should be expanded to comprehensively cover the ethical conduct of the police officer and the consequence of not conducting and observing the rules and regulations governing police department.
The second interviewee feels that there is always a room for improvement, as a result, there is no enough training. He believes that training emphasizes on tactical proficiency and overlooks mental preparedness. This means that the training should be expanded to prepare officer to be tactically proficient and mentally prepared to handle lethal encounters associated with duties of the police officers. Analysis indicated that police officers encounters ethical dilemmas while performing their duties since they frequently encounters deadly situations without any warning and they have little time to stop and deliberate about the situation. Studies have indicated that when a police officer encounters a lethal situation when unprepared, even the most honest above reproach officers are forced to make inappropriate split-second ethical decisions.
Whether ethics training should be offered as an on-going process for law enforcement officer
The first interviewee supports the training that is offered as an on-going process in order to make the law enforcement officers to be update in procedures and policies. By making ethics training an on-going process, the police officers would not require to undergo ethics training during refresher courses because they continuously learn about the ethics. Also, studies have shown that as people continues to discharge their services in one place for a long period of time, they tend to develop laxity. As a result, law enforcers should be constantly reminded that they are not above the law and they must exhibits high integrity throughout while discharging their services. Jackson Bonner highlighted that the evolving crimes such terrorism requires the police officers to be equipped with the requisite techniques to handle the emerging crimes.
Similarly, the second interviewee reiterated the importance of making ethics training as an on-going process since the officer would be able to learn about the emerging challenges and the appropriate methods that could be used to tackle these challenges. The training program and curriculum should be designed to allow inclusion of emerging issues.
Whether interviewees feels that education and/or training in ethics would reduce incidents of police corruption
Based on the responses from the first interviewee, training would definitely minimize the incidences of police corruption. When a police officer is properly trained and made to comprehensively understand the negative issues associated with corruptions and the consequences of engaging in corrupt activity, there is high chances that the police officer would restrain himself from engaging in corrupt activities. Second interviewee felt that education and training in ethics would reduce or not reduce the incidents of police corruption.
For example, when an officer is trained and later hangs-out with corrupt guys, he/she is likely to be influenced to engage in corrupt activities. Similarly, education and training could minimize police corruption if the officers in the leadership position ensures that junior officer operate within the code of ethics.