The “Thin Blue Line” of being a police officer in America can be tough. Many people feel that police officers perform admirably by keeping the peace and capturing lawbreakers. Other people believe those wearing the uniform use the laws they were sworn to protect for their own personal gain. What is not known is how blurry the line actually is and what officers can to from stepping over the ethics line. Ethics are the policies and social norms that are considered acceptable (O’Connor, 2005, 1). It is correct in returning a wallet containing hundreds of dollars to the local authorities, for example.
However, it is considered wrong to take money from that recovered wallet before surrendering it to the police. Public safety officers must make such judgments in order to perform their jobs adequately and without overstepping their duties (p. 1) There are plenty of companies who sold out their integrity for profit. Enron and WorldCom are two recent examples where executives put themselves ahead of its best interests. That led to massive shortfalls for its shareholders and the top executives being arrested. Those in charge believed they did nothing wrong and their actions were justified. (Anand, 2004, p.
9) The behavior of police officers is similar to business executives. They must not engage in behaviors that produce an illegal windfall. There are several ways this happens with varying degrees of punishment. Using the badge to intimidate someone or collect funds is worse than an officer failing to file an accident report. (O’Connor, 2005, p. 1) The first example is an officer who uses their position for personal gain. That is looked down upon with disdain because it affects the department’s integrity. The other example is a personal lapse in judgment and can be remedied with disciplinary action. (p. 1)