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Unit|The Question Of Ethics
Question of Ethics
By Brian Bernard
Former Commissioner of Police
The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines “Ethics” as
(1) the science of morals in human conduct, and (2) moral principles,
rules of conduct.
As Police Officers our ethical conduct will always be under scrutiny,
more so than other public officers. Therefore, we must live our
lives like Caesar’s wife. We must be above reproach. The
Holy Bible, one of the oldest books written, also makes reference
to ethical conduct. Apostle Paul writing to Titus inscribed the
“7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works:
in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the
contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”
That was sound advice then and is still applicable.
These are the high standards expected from the Police Officers.
Despite the fact that we are all aware that Police Officers come
from the society. The society where they grew up being exposed
to the same cultures and habits as every body else. Yet, after
six months training, that same society expects him to be different
and without inadequacies. This is always the expectation of the
society we have to serve.
The challenges facing any young officer are great. The temptations
are all around. There is an increase in unethical conduct, for
example white-collar crime, drugs, fraud, corruption, vengeance,
greed and basic immoral conduct in business. One has to balance
between the society he grew up in, the indications of the collapsed
moral standards and the training he was exposed to.
The temptation to accept a bribe is always there, especially as
we face the realities of crimes, the influential person involved
and the monies involved in the drug trade in particular. Some
are pressured into participating; others allow themselves to be
led into the web of corruption without even questioning but believing
that if others are doing it, it must be okay. Such incidents are
allowed to occur either because some seniors are involved or because
they are negligent in the duty to protect the standards of value
of the Force which reads:-
The RSLPF believes that integrity is the basis of public trust
and that honesty and equality in the delivery of police services
are essential. We are proud to be members of the Force and by
working together with the community, we can deliver a professional
We commit ourselves to upholding these values and fostering co-operation
and respect within our society.
Integrity- Reflects truth, honesty and ethical behaviour.
Equality- Reflects fairness, dignity and respect.
Pride- Reflects enthusiasm, confidence and loyalty.
Working Together- Reflects leadership and team work.
Community Partnership- Reflects communication, problem solving
and customer service.
Professionalism- Reflects quality, excellence, accountability,
self-service and duty.
It is sad that some of us will adhere to the Clint Eastwood syndrome
and for a few dollars more, compromise the Force’s Statement
What I have described is not new to this Force and also exists
in other forces. They have always been with us. What is of grave
concern to me is the increasing acceptance of immoral and unethical
conduct as normal. The difference today is that the level of corruption
is more organized, sophisticated and professional. That is why
honest and truly professional police officers are under great
pressure than ever before and this is why those with weaker resistance
fall by the way.
All is not lost. The management of the Force has to take a critical
look at ourselves. We must not only manage effectively and efficiently,
but we must provide ethical guidance and be a personal model for
ethical and honest conducts, thus setting an example for all persons
within the Force. We must adopt a degree of ownership of the Force.
Then and only then, we will be able to live up to the expectation
of the Mission, Vision and Objectives of the Force. We as managers
must display a supportive attitude, which will then permeate throughout
the Force. We must practice what we preach. When that happens,
the entire Force will have a sense of belonging that will be manifested
in a higher personal and professional integrity resulting in a
build up of trust and confidence from the community we serve.