Issues Spanning the Justice System – Gratuity


Gratuity also termed as a tip is a form of money that is given to a worker in addition to the basic price for a service rendered or anticipated. Gratuity is basically unacceptable in most law and enforcement departments in most parts of the world as it is seen as a form of bribe so that a certain service can be rendered (Pollock & Becker, 1995). The gratuities are thus accompanied by several policies or code that guide the officers. Every person have their own opinion about gratuities. There are those who see no issue with gratuities others see it as a great offence.

There are several policies regarding gratuities that have to be followed by any officer regardless of position in the department, these policies include:

  1. A departmental employee is not allowed to accept any gift or item especially if it appears like the person offering the gift is in one way or another trying to influence a decision from the employee. These situations include; becoming financially indebted to the extent where the performance of the work is affected or receiving money for the purpose of obtaining or giving an influence or consideration on something. (Schwartz , 2014)
  2. The officers are allowed to accept some of the following listed items unless it may appear to them that the item is offered in order to influence their official actions. (Schwartz, 2014)
  • Awards or tokens of appreciation of form of a trophy, a wall memento, a desk item and similar items.
  • Gifts in form of monetary value should not exceed $25.
  • $10 or less should be used on a single officer on anonymous purchase of food.
  • $50 on items from a single source at any one particular year.
  • Gifts from the family or personal relationships that are not influenced by the position of the officer.

There are some of the unofficial codes that have been created internally to keep them disciplined once someone receives gratuity. These, they say, help to keep them disciplined as it may at times take longer time for the official codes to be applied. These include transfers when found guilty more than two times. Another unofficial code applied is punishment which may come in form of working longer hours or some of your allowances are slashed.

The following are arguments against the acceptance of gratuities.

  1. Better tips are not necessarily as a result of better tips

Most people believe that better services should be tipped by a greater gratuity. This is however not true. Research has been done proving that the quality of the service accounts for only two percent in the variations of the tips. This shows that an officer may have worked so hard but the gratuity they get in return does not have much difference. This also does not influence a change in behavior. The officer might not work harder next time expecting more tip because in any case the variation is very little. (Coleman, 2004)

  1. It perpetuates sexism and racism.

Research done by Michael Lynn a professor at CornellUniversityin his research argues that the amount of gratuity is affected by the race or the gender. The female officers tend to get more gratuity while the male officer gets a little less than that. The white officers get more than their black counterparts. This does not depend at all on the quality of service offered or expected to be offered. This system tends to work the other way too. The blacks offer less tips that the white. This research also shows that the blacks are offered inferior services as a result of this. (Weeks, 1986).

The officer feels that they should not be prohibited to take small gratuities such as discounted meals or drinks as they show appreciation of the work they have done. It is also beneficial to them at the salary they earn every month, they say, is not enough to cater for their day to day needs. Gratuities keep them moving as they top up to what they earn.

In my personal opinion, gratuities may lead to serious breaches of ethics in law enforcement. This is because of the following reasons.

  • People will be expecting different treatment from others and this is unfair to the rest who have not offered the gratuity.
  • Gratuity will affect the public confidence that one might have on an enforcement officer. One can lose trust on then once they see them accepting gratuity from the public or even from them so that they can undertake a task for them which they are required by law to undertake.
  • Gratuity may lead to more cases of corruption. Acceptance of gratuity may lead to one accepting bribes in future. This may be a gateway to more cases of corruption
  • It has become a tendency for people to pay the police in form of gratuity so as to get equal treatment. (Prenzler & Mackay, 1995)


It is very evident that gratuity is a prohibited practice in the law and enforcement department. Despite it having grave punishment and also very many disadvantages, the officers are still ready to take that in for one reason or another. They always find an excuse for taking the gratuity. It thus lies in both our hands and those of the law and enforcement officers to end this custom. It is our turn not to offer that and for them to be responsible enough not to ask for it nor take it if is given.

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