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The Recruit Trainning Program Fighting CrimeThe Birth Of Human ResourceThe Shift to Community PolicingThe Police And The Public Uniting| Technology and Common senseThe Police Marine Unit|The Question Of Ethics

The 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 following:
“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.” Titus 2:7-8
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 police service.
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 of Values.
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.