The advent of community policing has brought community members to a closer working relationship with the law enforcers. This in turn creates more avenues for the citizens to interact in social relations with the officers thus opening more channels for corruption and lack of accountability for the officers (O’Malley, 1997). Ethical dilemmas could arise from having to deal with vices arising from communities that the law enforcers have worked closely with in the past.
In some cases, the law enforcers could be tempted to turn a blind eye to activities, which would otherwise have elicited prompt action by the officer. Whether to neglect duty for friendship reasons is therefore an ethical dilemma that most officers have to deal with on a daily basis (Morganthau, 1994). The code of conduct clearly states that the officer should not use excessive force when handling suspects. However, since there is no definition of what the excessive force should be, the clause is subject to personal interpretation (Klockars, Et al.
2003). Most often, the police work against a violent and chaotic society, where mildness may be taken advantage of thus risking the officer’s lives. The fact that officers actions are subject to scrutiny by the justice system makes the nature of their work more stressful. The ethical dilemma surrounding such a scenario lies much in determining, which case deserves what kind of force, not forgetting that the decision of what amount of force is appropriate is made in minimal time.
The integrity of individual law enforcers could further be compromised by the organizational culture among the law enforcers (O’Malley, 1997). According to Timothy O’Malley, a writer for the FBI bulletin, the organizational structures exalts loyalty more than it does integrity. As such, the officers taking orders from a higher ranking officer would be torn between doing what is right and following orders issued by his/her superiors. O’Malley (1997) further notes that officers also form some clannish organization that approach cases with a “them-against-us” mentality.
Accordingly, this sets a risky bad ethical precedent since officers will always handle cases from a defensive perspective. Further, officers though well intentioned may be caught between the urge to catch up with criminals through any means possible. When such happens, the police who at this time might believe that coercing people in any way is justifiable as long as the criminals are apprehended may not know whether his/her activities are ethical or not. Lack of ethical management in the force could also pose ethical dilemmas.
“Follow the leader” philosophy could ring true in many corporate agencies, but no doubt is full of ethical dilemma connotation in the force, especially where the senior managers in the law enforcement circles do not seem to affirm good ethics. While as senior managers are supposed to be the epitome of ethical behavior by practicing ethical management, training officers on ethics and taking affirmative steps towards encouraging ethics among the officers, this is not always the case (O’Malley, 1997).
In cases where there is no observable exemplary ethical behavior among the senior managers, lower ranking officers may be faced with ethical dilemmas while on duty especially considering that senior officers would care less about ethics. The fact that that the management does not take responsibility in upholding ethics can send the wrong signals to individual officers, who are then torn between upholding the code of ethics or handling the cases the same way the management does.