Professionalism develops and constantly hones the unique skills of a profession developing the expertise of police officers. Every officer as public servant must constantly work to better his professionalism. Department training should help officers in five important subject areas: use of force, search and seizure, arrest procedures, community policing, and diversity awareness. The five subject areas compose an essential set of skills that an ethical and effective police officer will regularly use in practice.
Training allows police officers to realistically practice using all relevant skills and knowledge needed for effective professional police work, thus meeting current standards of professionalism. How do professionalism and adherence to moral principles help officers maintain public confidence? The answer to this question lies in motto of any professional and responsible officer – “to protect and to serve”. A police officer that looks to ethics and integrity as standards for judgment and service inherently shares elements of a professional quality.
Professionalism includes and combines all the good elements that are necessary for proper service. Professionalism requires more than physical adeptness. It is important that the professional officer is proficient in both technical skills (for example, weapons experience, physical arrest procedures, and other topics frequently called as “tactical”) and communication skills. To be professional, police officers need more training in interpersonal and verbal communication skills.
These skills are essential for solving and reducing conflicts. Both effective communication and “tactical” skills are vital. Professional police officers are as skilled in communications as they are in “physical” skills. Police officers have frequently duty to convince people to do what they otherwise would not be inclined to do (Kenney and McNamara 49). Officers must be professionals in order to be able to solve all issues both with people they work and the clients. Behaving ethically should be challenging and rewarding.
Police officers can best serve the many and varied needs of American communities by fulfilling their responsibilities with knowledge, authority and appropriate behaving. Professional officer believes in treating all people with respect and dignity: he shows concern and empathy for the victims of crime and treats violators of the law with fairness and dignity. By demonstrating respect for others, police officer will earn respect for his department. Integrity is a standard of professionalism.
Police officers that look to ethics and integrity as touchstones for judgment and service to the public will maintain public confidence. It is a part of the officer’s job to be directly concerned with the public good – with the integrity, with the fairness of low rules and their administration, with the health and well-being of the community. Integrity is the virtue of approaching the public from an undivided perspective that permits the police officer to deal with people consistently and justly. The “wholeness” that is implied by the concept of integrity is only possible if the officer treats people equally.
Unfortunately, today police officers may find themselves working in departments where the pressures toward cynicism and a loss of moral thinking are very great. It is also important to exercise integrity in the use of the power and authority that is given to police officers by the people. Police personal and professional behavior should be a model for all people to follow. Integrity will help officers obey and support the letter and the spirit of the law. Conclusion The concept of police professionalism and ethical behavior evolved throughout the twentieth century.
Police ethics, like all professional ethics, are grounded in a broad moral perspective. A moral perspective is a point of view that highlights the moral and ethical dimensions of actions and events. Obviously, police officers must maintain ethical behavior if they going to effectively serve to the public. The importance of professionalism, responsibility, ethics, and values cannot be overemphasized, and police officers must understand that they are the public’s primary. An officer’s values affect how the officer manages people and situations. There are several areas in which police values affect work and workers:
1. An officer’s perceptions of individuals and groups 2. An officer’s perceptions of specific problems and their solutions. 3. An officer’s ethics relative to the job. 4. The correctness of decisions and judgments of others. 5. An officer’s appraisal of success or failure. The way in which police officers acquire a sense of professional responsibility is similar to the process by which people learn to speak any language. A person can never achieve fluency by studying the rules alone. That requires the learner to be at home in the habits of the language, to have acquired these habits himself.
The police profession is also a form of life, and an officer’s sense of responsibility can not be just knowledge of the rules.
Kenney, Dennis Jay and McNamara, Robert P. Police and Policing: Contemporary Issues. Praeger: Westport, CT, 1999. Parker, Stephen and Sampford, Charles. Legal Ethics and Legal Practice: Contemporary Issues. Clarendon University Press: Oxford, 1995. Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1941. Sherwood, Frank P. “Responding to the Decline in Public Service Professionalism. ” Public Administration Review. Vol. 57 (3), 1997.