This critique aims to dissect two articles on the ethics of different areas of police administration. These articles will be analyzed by their individual strengths and weaknesses. One article focuses on the ethics encompassed by undercover police work and the other focuses on what actual police officers view as the ethical trends and standards of their own coworkers. Both are important topics to discuss considering the importance and success of undercover missions but also the internal view that police officers have of themselves as a whole. To conclude I will analyze these topics from a biblical perspective.
Not many professions require an ethical standard as high as that of law enforcement. Officers spend their days making decisions that we would never want to make and seeing things we would never want to see. Most people view police as “crime fighters” but they are not always fighting crime. They can be found doing wellness checks, saving animals, or even assisting the mentally ill. In fact, only 19 percent of calls to police relate to a crime of any kind and an officer typically spends only 10 to 15 percent of patrol time on crime-related activities.(Masters) One that chooses to spend most of their days caring for the public and helping the helpless must have strong core values and live by a strong code of ethics. The purpose of this critique is to review the findings of two separate articles related to ethics in police administration and outline the strengths and weaknesses of each. To conclude the critique I will also discuss what a truly ethical organization might look like along with the ideal characteristics of that organization’s training, leadership, and employees.
The first article I will discuss focuses on a specific area of police administration: undercover policing. Many people question if undercover police work essentially “wrongs” its targets. This begs the question: are undercover activities justified by the overall security benefit? This article introduces three models of undercover policing: The Dirty Hands Model, The Instrumental Model, and The liability Model/Self Defense. (reference) This article particularly favors the Liability Model and describes its attractions, challenges, and implications in detail.
Critique of Strengths and Weaknesses of the Article Strengths
I believe article one technically has more weaknesses than strengths but the strengths I have observed are obvious. The author provides an in depth analysis of each ethics model and explains the differences between each. While the article in whole is mostly in favor of the Liability Model it does not neglect the other models of the opportunity to be considered. It also continues on to discuss the different controversies that commonly surround undercover police work. I think the most important strength of the article is actually the general idea of the Liability model. “The criminal’s wrongful plans and behaviors cancel the moral complaint he would otherwise have.” Thus, leaving them liable for their susceptibility of being the subject of an undercover sting. I view this as a strength because I agree that if a person has committed to participating in a criminal act, they have already subjected themselves to whatever consequences might follow.
I believe the biggest weakness of this article is that it fails to mention the true importance of undercover police work. They also fail to mention the danger that accompanies working undercover. These things should be considered when evaluating the pros and cons of going undercover in general. Some of the most important criminal cases have been solved with undercover police work so the job should be appreciated. For example, the recent arrest of a Georgia man planning to attack the White House. This arrest was made just last week so that proves that, to this day, undercover work is being utilized and is successful.
The next article in this critique aims to determine the views of police officers and police candidates regarding professionally unethical behavior. “The results of the study can be summarized as follows: in the context of the overall arithmetic mean of the police officers, they believe that their colleagues “Never” perform any professionally unethical behavior. According to the police officers in the study group, the most unethical behavior performed by their colleagues is “using bilateral relations for improper appointment” and the least unethical behavior is “accepting a bribe while conducting his duty.” (reference and page) Based on the findings, the police interviewed in the study believe that training programs should prepare police officers and candidates in their pre-service and in-service training. The proposed training would help them become more sensitive to professional ethics and principles.
The most obvious strength of this article is how in depth it discusses the definition “ethics”. The word can sometimes be confusing so it is helpful to discuss it in such depth at the begging of the article. I felt that helped the rest of the article to have a more cohesive meaning. Another strength is how well developed and defined each topic and example is. The author lists numerous examples of universally unethical behaviors and professional police ethics. The most important strength of article two is the fact that it is more than an opinion piece. Real questions were asked to real people and data was collected to form an educated conclusion.
It is difficult to find weaknesses in article two because the author did a very good job with the overall presentation of the data and relevant details. But, I did notice that it could have been helpful to have some type of chart or graph to show the actual amount of people that answered each question the same way. It would be difficult to include every answer word for word but they could have charted the most common answers to make the findings stand out a little more to the reader. I also would like to know if these findings are thought to be similar to the opinions of officers in precincts all around America.
Summary of Articles
Overall, both articles were informative and unique from each other. Article two focused more on the definition of ethics, which was helpful to the general message it was trying to convey. I also liked that article two examined police ethics from the actual point of view of law enforcement. Most people focus on the public opinion of policing and don’t always take time to ask an insiders experience. I think this shows that as outsiders we only see and hear about the few very bad stories and forget how many good officers are out there.
Personal Reflection, Position, and Christian Worldview
My personal definition of Ethics’ is just doing the right thing. It is commonly said that the right thing might be the hardest thing to do. But being able to stand strong in our core morals and values is what makes humans “ethical”. Ethics in police administration is such an important topic to discuss because right now our society scrutinizes police officers more than any other profession. Some say this is with hope of catching them making a mistake, or because they are truly looking for proof that all law enforcement is not defined by the rare bad apple. I think that an ethical organization looks almost exactly like what most law enforcement agencies look like. The academy does include ethics training and the employees are always expected to uphold moral and ethical standards. I believe that law enforcement in general goes to work everyday to protect our communities and serve our nation and we should be extremely grateful.
When thinking of police ethics through the Christian worldview lens, I immediately think of the most powerful criminal we face every single day; Satan. Satan is like a criminal in the sense that he encourages wrongdoing and pulls us astray from doing the right thing. As I mentioned earlier, doing the right thing is what ethics is all about. We, as warriors for God, are like police officers because we are fighting crime within our own lives every day. We are fighting Satan and working to protect ourselves from him influence. Fighting Satan is not always a physical fight, just like police work. Sometimes it is in the small things. Just like police spend their days doing more than chasing bad guys and shooting guns, we spend our time fighting Satan in many ways. Prayer is an example of our more personal tactics against evil. When not stopping crime physically, officers care for the weak and protect the defenseless. But in order to fight Satan we must always remember one thing. We are never defenseless. God is our shield and God is our protector.