In this first session I interviewed detective Lakshan De Silva of the placer county Sheriff’s office. The detective stated that the police are entirely predicated on ethics and morals. As for them, it is expected that they are the good guys; hence people rely on them to act responsibly. Moreover, they will be presented as evil people if they do not serve to conduct. Police are considered a barrier separating well from evil; thus, one being in such a position is expected to act right. However, one’s beliefs, character, and ethics keep a person from doing wrong and motivate an individual to do well.
On the question if police are more ethical today, he answered that he believes that police officers are subject to further constraints. The officer’s training and standards monitor the law enforcement authorities, and in comparison to the previous years, they have better background and training checks. In the last decades, people’s enrollment in law enforcement agencies was due to money; however, the cops on the job now are in to catch and deal with evil individuals in the society. Moreover, the recruitment of individuals is through agencies; hence people are selected based on their qualities.
On the quiz of why police officers engage in misconduct,he stated that cops are people too, and everyone makes errors; hence it should not be expected that police officers will be perfect figures. In his confirmation, he was like that drugs, money, and lies tempt people; hence such things drug them down as they are human and have their weaknesses. Summing it up, he straightened up that it is an individual role to take up the best option, which is where ethics and character come into play.
He believed that there was adequate ethics instruction in police institutions. To be a law enforcement officer, the individual must be honest, show respect to others, and have integrity. A person should know how to do the right thing; hence one doesn’t need to be taught. If one wants to participate in evil or good, it is a choice. Moreover, ethics is more of what individuals have done to prepare themselves as a cop.
Lakshan agreed that officers should provide a daily ethical training basis as it serves as a reminder to them why they field and why they participate. It equips them with knowledge of who they are, what they stand for, and the people who look up to them to do the right things. The measure can enhance police activity where morals and discipline drive them to the right acts.
On the issue of corruption and ethical training, he stated it was an excellent measure to serve as a reminder; however, if one is corrupt, one cannot change that as it is implanted in them. To him, changing is out of their will, and you cannot force the individual to do it. Moreover, he stated that he hears and reads about the wrongdoings of police officers in his department every day. He has heard of police officers speeding and abusing their position to avoid receiving penalties. A few times, the same occurrence has also happened to him as he worked his way up through ranks. Fortunately, they had policies of not giving breaks at traffic stops at that period.
Ethical Dilemma in Police Field
Another ethical issue during one of the Lakshan shifts was police being caught on duty having a sexual relationship with his on-and-off girlfriend. The officer tried to bribe him with money, but Lakshman was reluctant. He called the supervisor and told him of the occurrence. The female was arrested while the other individuals were requested to work. The incident led to him having a broken friendship with the other group members. Still, he had to do the right thing. As he knew if he kept quiet about it, the conduct would continue, and he would also risk his job for learning the issue and remaining silent.
Code of ethics exists in the police department, and an officer should set an example for the citizens by following these codes. It applies to both the on and off duties police; however, this does not always occur. The recent issue the detective has had to deal with is of a fellow cop who got into a car accident after drinking and driving. Even if the cop was on probation, this was not the proper manner for him to act, which led to him being fired. Lakshan said that he had performed in this peculiar manner, for if the officer had been damaged or killed himself, he would have been accountable. He has constantly replayed the incident in his thoughts, thinking of how such a scenario would have been avoided.
In this second session I interviewed Investigator Sean De La Rosa of the Mission Police Department. His response to why ethics and character are significant was that they took an oath to serve people and uphold the law as peace officers. Nonetheless, it is still people’s discretion, and business can play a role in executing responsibilities. He noted that some officers have a short fuse and are frequently chastised for lashing out verbally at individuals who have just asked a simple question. Although some officers can use verbal language to calm down angry or belligerent individuals, not all situations can be managed with de-escalation by verbal instructions. Regardless of the conditions or civilians met, the officer’s persona and the image they want to portray toward them will significantly impact how the incident ends.
Sean believes that today’s officers are more ethical than those of the past as there is a lot of training to equip the officers on the significance of being moral. Moreover, in today’s society, the police are being arrested if they are accused of corruption which is ideally different from what used to happen in the past, where they would turn a blind eye. He presented examples to support this where in the first scenario is of county sheriff Lupe, who was arrested for money laundering and sentenced to five years imprisonment (Chapa, 2014). The second incident is of a border patrol agent who raped an illegal immigrant, kidnapped her, and committed suicide when the local and federal police discovered him (mint press news desk, 2014). The two sample cases indicate that the rate of ethics in the police field has improved.
To Sean, various reasons can cause an individual to be involved in misconduct, such as ease of abusing the public confidence, improved networking to gain power through nomination or election, and lack of funds. The human mentality can also be funded that nobody will notice if one can get away with the action (Schanzenbach, 2021). Hence the individual get accustomed to doing wrong that they openly do and end up being caught. Another substantial reason is that nobody wants to point it out, so if a cop is detected, individuals will be like I knew it all along. The people mentality has led to misconduct for as long as now.
The officer insinuated there is an issue on depending on police academy for the institution’s role is to train cadets to the minimal levels necessary by the state for the people to pass exams in the end with some instructors also teaching the agencies procedures and policies. As part of requirements to the field is certify that the individual who became cadet has passed specific needs to give the next level. The focus is on the field training required of all officers transferring from another agency or new officers. Officers study how to be effective officers for the agency and meet a role model who serves as an example to learn from and emulate.
The officer believes that ethical training should be offered consistently; as previously stated, it is required by Texas requirements. It should also be included in the primary academy curriculum in the training field. The officers are taught the essence of being morally upright in their service to people. Moreover, it will remind them of citizens’ expectations, hence the need to conduct themselves properly and not abuse their position.
Many undesirable habits or actions that would lend themselves to corruption will be caught throughout the officer’s education, and training during the Field training program as the officer continues in their career. They might think about it more now that they are more aware of it. It is also a way of life and a belief in the fundamental framework we work. Sean stated that they do not make the laws; instead, they enforce policies that the people have requested to be on the constitution, and we should all follow the same rules.
Ethical Dilemma in Police Field
Concerning the issue of the moral dilemma Sean faced while he was on the field, he pointed out two: power abuse and immigration. On the incident of immigration, he described the case of the where Rio Grande valley and Mexico border. He; said it was critical to enhance the prohibition of unauthorized entry to cut cartels funds. The fundamental issue was that he would even be bribed to allow the people to cross in time. Abuse of power occurs all over the united states, not only in law enforcement. His second scenario was in Hidalgo County. What makes Hidalgo County stand out is that there is a lot of influence and nepotism because of the Hispanic culture of large families and strong relationships, which may quickly degenerate into large-scale corruption. Officer-involved shootings and their wrong media portrayal are not a problem in this region.
In conclusion, in both interviews, the officers agree that it is upon an individual to choose to be morally upright or not. They both agreed that training and knowledge on differentiation of good could be assimilated to individuals. They both decided that ethics training should be carried out regularly to act as a sign of remembrance for the officers. Similarly, they all agreed that they had faced an ethical dilemma; hence it’s normal for officers to be involved in the ethical issues as they are also humans and got their weaknesses.
Chapa, S. (2014). Former Sheriff Lupe Trevino sentenced to 5 years in prison. Web.
Mint Press News Desk. (2014). Border patrol agent kidnaps, rapes illegal immigrant then commits suicide. MintPress News. Web.
Schanzenbach, M. (2021). Policing the police: Personnel management and police misconduct. SSRN Electronic Journal, (21), 1-31. Web.