The Criminal Justice System is made up of thousands upon thousands of individuals that dedicate their lives to protect and serve the community they represent. Although many officers would say Loyalty to a specific organization is more important than their own Integrity, the same thing can be said about an individual’s Integrity vs. Loyalty. The problem we face today in most of society, is keeping our officers on the “good” side of the fence, making sure they stick with what is right. The Criminal Justice System has taken on the label of being considered “Dirty” at times. The question is, would you stay Loyal to your department and peers?
Or would you let your integrity drive you as an individual? “Loyalty is the quality of being loyal, faithfulness to engagements or obligations, adherence to a leader or cause” (Hurley, 2001). Sometimes we ask ourselves whether we would go with the loyalty to an organization or our integrity. “Loyalty amongst people remains a relevant value in the contemporary world of work in spite of changes such as contracts, outsourcing and globalization” (Hurley, 2001). The Loyalty to an organization is what keeps the individuals that make up our Criminal Justice System running smoothly.
The officers that are loyal to the job, work hard daily to make the arrests on the streets, giving the community justice for the crimes committed. The other part of the loyalty factor is whether an officer should stay loyal to his fellow officers no matter what the circumstances are. The criminal justice profession can be very stressing at times, causing many people within to become corrupt. “Despite the fact that rules and regulations almost never mention loyalty to superiors, this unexamined practice has been sacrosanct regardless of how unworthy, inefficient, or immoral these superiors may be” Souryal, 1999).
The stress of the criminal justice profession takes many people down a road that they never imagined they would journey towards. Corruption is the biggest test for officers and other individuals when it comes down to loyalty vs. integrity. Furthermore, “the obligation of loyalty to persons rather than principles can encourage corruption, promote mediocrity, and demoralize the workers within the system itself” (Souryal, 1999). In Criminal Justice agencies the selection of loyalty objects can be as intriguing as the fear of being accused of disloyalty is real.
The loyalty to the department in bigger cities such as Detroit and New York City is tested daily, when they encounter fellow officers engaging in illegal transactions. The bigger cities are typically where the corruption occurs, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t elsewhere. The integrity of an individual involved in the criminal justice system is tested each time they begin a shift. They have to put their integrity ahead of everything else they do because integrity is what you have internally. The integrity of an individual and how highly they show that is more important to me, than an individual with no integrity and a lot of loyalty.
The loyalty to a department can only take you so far if you don’t have any integrity. Integrity, “The strict adherence to a standard value or conduct, a personal honesty and independence” (Gilmartin, 1998). “The role of the criminal justice professional is to protect and to serve our society in enforcing the laws that govern our great nation. It is a high calling, but a worthy one, that can bring you a rewarding occupation and a deeply personal feeling of pride, honor, integrity, and character in a career dedicated to public service” (Harris, 1998).
The officers that fight crime and deal with the criminals on the street daily contain huge amounts of integrity. The term “character” is a quality that distinguishes one individual from another through their behavior. Character is developed, and it is ingrained. It becomes our very core and our essence of being through a continual practice of habit. Developing one’s character is a true lifelong process. These traits of moral integrity and honest character are at the core of a truly committed criminal justice professional.
The integrity of a Criminal Justice Professional is valued more than a Criminal Justice Professional with Loyalty. I feel that the police officers with the great amount of integrity keep the justice system intact, and help balance the corruption out. The Loyalty to the police department an officer serves is only fulfilled when that officer maintains the personal and professional integrity. “While officers have absolute control over their own integrity and professionalism, the rest of their police role is controlled by someone else making it more important that an officer values integrity first and loyalty second” (Harris, 1998).
While it is important that an officer maintains loyalty to the department they serve, maintaining the professional integrity is what means the most. The officer should always be honest, leaving nothing but a good example for the community they are serving. Many kids idolized police officers and other individuals of the Criminal Justice System. Although I feel that loyalty is important to a certain extent within the Criminal Justice System, you can only control a certain part of that, causing you to rely on your integrity to life.
The corruption that occurs within the system is caused by officers and individuals that have no morals and are conceded. If every single officer believed in integrity, then corruption would be weeded out of the Criminal Justice System for good. Officers are tested daily by the community they serve, often offered to buy into corruption so a criminal can escape a minor or sometimes major offense. The integrity of the officer must over power their loyalty to the streets and fellow officers when a negative circumstance arises.