Ethics and Code of Conduct

Subject: Law
Pages: 4
Words: 906
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College

The ethical considerations are inherent in the overall criminal justice system since they determine the categorization of deeds as moral or immoral. Ultimately, moral reasoning helps law enforcers define the level of punishment appropriate for a particular crime. There are multiple reasons why ethics and integrity are essential for a career as a law enforcement officer. Firstly, a law enforcement officer who performs within high moral standards and according to a strict code of professional conduct ensures that all people among the served population is treated equally. The ability to preserve the human rights of equality against the law is one of the law enforcement officers’ responsibilities (No author, 2). Therefore, the knowledge and practical application of the code of ethical conduct is important for a law enforcement officer.

Secondly, the provision of ethical standards and moral reasoning ensure the professionalism of an officer and his or her ability to protect citizens from unlawful actions. This reason for ethics and integrity importance in a career of a law enforcement officer is determined by the code of conduct and manifests the core of ethical decision-making in law enforcement practice (No author, 2). Thirdly, such representatives of the profession of law enforcement as “judges, prosecutors, or police officers” must act according to ethical standards to ensure critical thinking, which ultimately builds the public’s trust (Navickiene, 3, p. 393). This idea is validated by the claims made by Williams, who identifies that the criminal justice system is not perfect, and professionals should “reflect critically on matters that are all too frequently taken for granted” (1, p. 5). Thus, these three reasons serve as a basis for the necessity of law enforcement officers to adhere to ethical conduct rules in their careers.

Ethics, morality, and law are three dimensions related to the distinction between right and wrong. Morality represents a set of human personal values and beliefs about the world and the life of a person in it. Ethics is a set of principles that define what is good, bad, permissible, or obligatory; it mainly regulates professional life (Williams, 1). Finally, the law is regarded as a set of rules that should be based on common moral reasoning and regulate the life of a society. These three aspects might not coincide in reality, although the integration of all three would benefit the life of humanity. Their intersections might imply controversy between what is considered right and wrong by an official.

One of the aspects in which these issues might differ is the difference between an officer’s lawful obligations and personal moral principles. For example, one might be obligated by law to sentence a criminal to capital punishment, which is in force in the state of Georgia. However, this person might be against capital punishment from his or her moral perspective. Another aspect might be the difference between one’s attitudes toward marijuana legalization. On an ethical side, one might consider it a right of freedom of choice, but on a law side, it is illegal and should be punished. Therefore, the differences between ethics, morality, and low imply controversies for law enforcement officers who must remain professional at all times.

There are many ways law enforcement officials must abide by ethics, morality, and code of conduct in their personal and professional life. Firstly, according to the Code of Conduct for law enforcement officials, G.A, the representatives of this profession must preserve the confidentiality considerations concerning the matters of confidential nature both in their professional and private domains (No author, 2). Thus, to remain within the framework of ethical and moral principles and perform according to the rules prescribed by the code of conduct, the representatives of law are responsible for keeping confidential information undisclosed. Secondly, law enforcement officers in their personal life and professional duties should never inflict, tolerate, or instigate cruel or inhumane treatment of any human being (No author, 2). This principle is derived from moral and ethical reasoning and must be prioritized by law enforcement officials at all times.

As for the state of Georgia and the city of Waycross, the code of conduct for law enforcement officials entails strict standards of professional performance that are developed on the basis of ethical principles. Since the state of Georgia occupies a significant role in the national law enforcement training system being a home for the main federal law enforcement training center, the code of conduct is of particular importance. Indeed, as emphasized in the code of conduct, law enforcement officials must, at all times, respect and preserve human dignity within the scope of their professional duties (No author, 2). Although a general one, this principle is a core element of ethical conduct, especially for trainees who start their careers and search for moral guidelines for their work. Another pivotal aspect of the code is the responsibility of officials to protect citizens from illegal acts. This principle necessitates an accurate distinction between legal and illegal acts, the understanding of which entails professional education, skills, and knowledge that serve as a foundation for ethical performance.

Source List

  1. Christopher R. Williams. 2008. Ethics, crime, and criminal justice. Pearson Prentice Hall.
  2. No author. 1979. Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, G.A. res. 34/169, annex, 34 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 46) at 186, U.N. Doc. A/34/46 (1979). Web.
  3. Zaneta Navickiene. 2019. Formation of Values in Activities of the Future Lawyers and Law Enforcement Officers: How to Learn Ethics While Studying, p. 386-395. Web.