A Police Agencies Cod
A police agencies code of ethics usually exists separately from the formalized set of rules and regulations studied in the academy. A code of ethics is a broader conceptual statement of expected agency goals and officer conduct. However, running afoul of the department’s ethical code can have as much potential impact upon an officer’s career as a violation of a departmental regulation (Dwyer, 2008).
Policies, values, operating procedures, best practices, code of conduct/ethics in police agencies have a purpose in depicting the standard in which the officer should operate their personal and professional lives. Too often, there is a disconnection between policies and practices. This is where it is important the police administration and leadership take an aggressive role in enforcing their own policies, procedures and best practices. If police administration and leadership don’t assume an aggressive role in ensuring the police culture is one of integrity and accountability, officers will cultivate their own culture in their own way.
Virtually every police department has policies dictating officer’s code of conduct and regulating use of force. No law enforcement agency should knowingly excuse conduct that runs counter to their policy or against the United States constitutional standards.
Officers have the power to intervene and become involved with citizens at very basic types of contacts such as traffic stops for equipment violations. The manner in which officers interact with citizens and the methods by which they enforce the law have critical implications. When and where police apply their powers is usually a matter of individual discretion. Because officers often are required to make people do something, or refrain from doing something, police action may be met with resistance, conflict, or confrontation (Guttschaldk & Glomseth, 2012, p. 15). American civilization has blessed to its police the authority to use force in the pursuit of justice, law, and order. The police have discretion to use force when it is required. However, the potential abuse and actual abuse of such authority remain both a central problem for police agencies and a central public policy concern.
Extreme examples of police abuse often spark major public debate. Videotapes of Rodney King being beaten by Los Angeles police officers, or more recently the video of South Carolina Officer Michael Slager shooting Walter Scott eight times in the back as he fled on foot, capture public attention and raise troubling questions about police abuse of force.