Ethics, or moral conduct, are of major importance in the Criminal Justice field today. If the police force condoned unethical behavior, there would be very little, if any, justice being served. Official police misconduct is any “objectionable actions taken by police officers in connection with their official duties, which can lead to a miscarriage of justice”. (wikipedia. com). However, “police misconduct may include a broader range of misconduct, reflecting the high standards that we expect of police officers.
Unlike official misconduct, police misconduct can apply to off-duty behavior as well as conduct on the job”. (clc. qld. gov. au). Ethics are applicable in an investigation because, as I stated before, if the force condoned unethical behaviors, there would be very little, if any, justice being served. We will now focus on three ethical issues and see how these issues can impact a case. The issues we will cover are planting evidence, falsifying testimony, and bribery. Planting evidence on a suspect is a very big problem.
Some police officers do this to meet a quota, such as this happened in Atlanta and lead to a 92-year old woman’s death a few months ago. Some officers have done this because they were convinced that it was the only way to get a known criminal off the streets in order to make the neighborhood safer. Huntington Beach, CA has a practice of planting evidence on unsuspecting vehicles in order to train new officers. Las Vegas abandoned a similar training tactic last year when a man was falsely charged with drug possession after a canine officer forgot to retrieve drugs planted in the man's car.
This unethical behavior is a problem because innocent people are charged and convicted with crimes that they did not commit. 2 Falsifying testimony is a problem for many reasons. If an officer falsifies testimony, it can ensure that the perpetrator goes free and no justice is received for the victim. It also can lead to the public losing faith in the justice system. It can also ensure that an innocent person is found guilty for a crime that he or she did not commit.
If an officer has a previous instance of falsifying testimony, any testimony he gives in the future could be thrown out of court, letting an offender go free. Bribery is a problem for many different reasons, also. Justice cannot be served if the police are willing to be “bought” by the criminals. An investigator is supposed to protect the community and do what he has to in order to make sure that justice is being served. This cannot be done if he is on the criminals’ pay roll. It can lower community moral, believing that if someone has enough money, they can just buy their way out of anything.
The community may also lose faith in the justice system all together, believing that whoever harmed them, or whatever be the case, will go free because the police are working both sides of the fence. There is no case if the investigator is letting the guilty go free. Ethics are very important in the Criminal Justice Field because it keeps up community and department moral and ensures that the right person will be charged with the right crime. It also ensures that justice will be served. If an officer has shown unethical behaviors in the past, who is to say that they won’t do it again? This loses faith and trust in the entire system and justice can never be fully served. Because of this, we must all do our parts in order to make sure that we, and our fellows, are practicing good ethics.
- http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Police_misconduct
- http://www. cmc. qld. gov. au/asp/index. asp? pgid=10760
- http://jonathanturley. org/2009/03/08/three-atlanta-police-officers-sentenced-for-planting-evidence-and-killing-a-92-year-old-grandmother-in-botched-raid/