Police professionalism and responsibility are closely related to ethical issues. The initial goal of every member of the police department is to serve the community and protect the rights of citizens. However, with current political influence, stereotypes that form biased attitudes to various strata of society, it becomes complicated for the police officers to remain devoted to the public’s interests. Moreover, human nature is dual, and along with a great willingness to help and support each other, they can be judicial and make use of the possessed power. Similar obstacles are met on the way of policemen, and every day they must fight the temptation to abuse their power and act inappropriately towards civilians. The connection between professionalism and responsibility of the police officers with ethical principles is crucial for the trust and confidence of people in law enforcement.
The major principle that embodies the professionalism of the officer is the equal attitude towards civilians of any social class, ethnicity, and gender. Bias treatment of low-income representatives is going through every society nowadays. Unfortunately, the standard picture of a criminal is of a person inhabiting a poor neighborhood. Several studies proved the intensified surveillance of the policemen in poor regions of the cities and, consequently, a higher number of crime rates identified in these locations.
However, crime rates can be equal in all parts of the city, including the rich neighborhoods. The underestimation of all areas and prejudicial treatment of poor communities shape the statistics of the crime. According to Lum and Isaac (2016), The Oakland Police Department in Oakland, California, monitored primarily low-income neighborhoods for drug-related crimes even though they were relatively proportionally disseminated in the city. People in poverty should be primarily protected by the police; however, they are facing inadequate treatment more often than middle-class citizens.
Disparities in the attitude of the policemen towards various ethnic groups is another essential issue characterizing U.S. society. Black and Latin people are believed to commit a greater number of crimes than representatives of the White race. These beliefs are also biased as they are based on common stereotypes. Ethnic minorities experience aggression, illegitimate behavior, and uncontrolled power usage coming from police more often than white people.
This was proved by several studies gathering an equal number of various race citizens that had a recent experience with police officers’ stoppings. For instance, during the investigation by Hitchens et al. (2017), the authors interviewed females of various ethnicities about their contacts with the police. The majority of Black and Latin females reported physical aggression, sexual harassment, and instances of being stopped by the police while walking alone on the streets (Hitchens et al., 2017). Hence, the equal attitude to civilians of various races and income is crucial for the police professionalism and responsibility. Most of the time, marginalized communities seek help and protection from the officers instead of aggression and bias.
The more citizens face unequal treatment coming from authorities, the less they trust in them. The nature of the fractured relationship between the police department and the public is primarily because of the data spread via the Internet and media. Video reports of violence, power abuse, racial prejudice, and other examples of illegitimate conduct by the police deteriorate the perception of law embodiment in the country.
Unfortunately, the latter leads not only to mistrust towards authorities but also interrogates the law and citizens’ behavior. Having poor belief in police, humans tend to minimize reports about crimes as they start questioning their justice. Moreover, civilians do not have enough motivation to help police solve the cases and cooperate as witnesses in complicated crimes, which worsens law enforcement efforts and prolongs the process of investigation. Generally, uncertainty in police devotion to the public breaks the safety levels inside the country and leads to further social issues.
Another aspect interfering with ethical principles and people’s trust is corruption among the community’s authorities. The idea that an officer does not protect the rights of civilians but focuses on the rights of self breaks the faith of the public. Bribes and disrespect towards the law coming from police lead to antagonist perceptions of the law system in the country. Citizens cannot understand the dualistic approach to lawbreaking when the person that initially should guard the law allows himself to disrespect it. Biased treatment intensifies the mistrust of the authorities and vanishes the borders of safety. People living in corrupt countries are always afraid of the circumstances when unfair law implementation will be used against them.
The professionalism and responsibility of policemen are closely connected with their willingness to show respect and support to every citizen. People can trust and build firm relationships with those who truly care about them. Respecting the rights of every society member, showing participation and involvement in human concerns can enhance the interconnections with police. Ethics will always stand on the side of rights, equality, and respect.
Individuals mostly want to feel safe and protected, and the proper performance of police within the borders of their authority can make the relationships between the public and police strong. Moreover, when people experience a similar perception of right and wrong with the police, their immovable position on the law side, and absence of power misuse, they have no reasons to hesitate in their performance.
Ethics is believed to be an inevitable part of policing, and all policemen currently, before initiating their service, take an Oath of Honor. It is a pledge that embodies the major aspects of police officers’ behavior and principles that have to be followed during the professional performance. In the Oath, police officers claim they will stay on the side of the law in any circumstances and that they will “serve the community; to safeguard lives and property; protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder” (International Association of Chiefs Police, 2021, para. 1). Every policeman must remember and follow the principles mentioned in the Oath. Following ethics is not only a choice of the officer, but it also defines the further path on which the society will go, how its members will interact with each other, and how sincere they will be towards each other.
Police representatives’ professionalism and responsibility are closely connected with ethical principles. The attitude of the police towards the public is a base of society. It forms the trust and confidence in authority organs, the level of safety and protection felt by the citizens, and their initiation to cooperate in complicated situations. Biased treatment implemented towards civilians of various social classes, ethnicity, and gender can break the faith in the police and lead to mistrust of the public.
Corruption of the authorities also raises disputes in communities and the feeling of unfair attitude. To avoid these consequences, police have to follow the Oath of Honor and perform on the side of the law. By showing respect, care, equal attitudes while cooperating with the public, police can reach the highest levels of trust and help build a strong society based on faith and the word of law.
Hitchens, B. K., Carr, P. J., & Clampet-Lundquist, S. (2018). The context for legal cynicism: Urban young women’s experiences with policing in low-income, high-crime neighborhoods. Race and Justice, 8(1), 27-50. Web.
International Association of Chiefs Police. Law Enforcement Code of Ethics. (n.d.). Web.
Lum, K., & Isaac, W. (2016). To predict and serve? Significance, 13(5), 14-19. Web.