Ethics Training in Law Enforcement

A report by the Ethics Training Subcommittee of the IACP Ad Hoc Committee on Police Image and Ethics

Established in late 1995 by then-President David Walchak, continued through 1997 under President Darrell Sanders and working under the guidance of Fourth Vice President Chief Bill Berger, IACP's Ad Hoc Committee on Police Image and Ethics has generated a tremendous amount of positive interest in and anticipation of the final report. Based on two years of research and numerous meetings among co-chairs Berger, Neal Trautman and Michael Cosgrove, who oversaw the efforts of the 60+ members of the committee, the following is a final compilation of the committee report to IACP members, along with a list of the ad hoc recommendations and a detailed analysis of the first-ever IACP ethics survey.

Our Greatest Need

Ethics is our greatest training and leadership need today and into the next century. In addition to the fact that most departments do not conduct ethics training, nothing is more devastating to individual departments and our entire profession than uncovered scandals or discovered acts of officer misconduct and unethical behavior. The effects of unethical acts and behavior take many forms.

One of the more detrimental consequences of unethical behavior is the subjecting of an agency to civil litigation. Litigation now comes in many forms: excessive use of force, racial discrimination, sexual discrimination, age discrimination, religious discrimination and sexual harassment suits. Violations of civil rights under Titles 18 and 42 are becoming too commonplace. Defending against such allegations both drains an organization financially and has a long-term reputation effect—in many cases, sigmatizing the agency forever.

These forms of civil litigation are more than tempting to the media; they are irresistible. The negative publicity generated is devastating, regardless of the type of employer. A single incident of unethical behavior can take you from one of the most-admired agencies to one of the least-respected, literally overnight.

Another reason is the personal consequences individual supervisors suffer. Simply being in the "chain of command" when substantial misconduct is discovered can literally destroy a career. When a scandal hits, heads will roll. Many supervisors lose their jobs or are demoted. Others are more fortunate by retaining their jobs, but may never be promoted again. Many of the violations that resulted in disciplinary actions or terminations were due to supervisory omissions or failure to take appropriate actions when dealing with acts of unethical conduct.

Professional destruction through termination does not end with these leaders. Finding one's name or picture on television or the focus of a newspaper story about corruption is an overwhelming public humiliation for any officer and his family; even if later exonerated, he can never recover. The stigma of association resulting from an allegation of unethical behavior lasts forever, even into one's personal life.

For officers who lose their jobs, the future is bleak, to say the least. Many times, unemployment compensation is not offered for such situations. Few employers would want to hire someone fired for being unethical. Without an income, domestic problems arise, often leading to divorce or separation and complicating an already strained and stressful situation.

Each year, considerably more officers commit suicide than are murdered. Many times, these suicides are a result of officers' failure to deal with unethical acts in which they were personally or summarily involved. Thus, by preventing unethical acts, you will be literally saving the lives of fellow officers.

The Ethics Training Survey

If we in law enforcement do not know what our problems are, how do we know how to properly address these issues? Based on our committee's recommendation, the solution is to create and conduct a needs assessment.

During the spring of 1997, the most extensive ethics training survey ever conducted by law enforcement was undertaken. Over 4,500 surveys were sent out to members of IACP; 20 percent (or 900 completed surveys) were returned. Though on the surface this percentage may seem low, private-sector marketers will tell you that anything over 10 percent is considered extraordinary. The large response was collected, and the interpretation of the results analyzed. This has produced solid recommendations for change in how we as a profession must address ethics today and in the future.

The survey research instrument utilized both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. It was believed that by using the two distinct research designs, the special demands of this specific project could be strengthened.

The survey was constructed using both fixed-answer questions and statements and/or open-ended questions. Consideration was given to formulating questions or statements that measured specified variables in an articulate and meaningful way. The initial contents of the survey design comprised a large number of questions and statements related to ethics in law enforcement. The survey was ultimately refined to contain questions or statements that were judged most relevant to the subject matter. The intention was to enhance the integrity and effectiveness of the survey by securing the comments of specific external evaluators regarding both the quality and substance of the items contained in the survey.

Reading the complete survey questions from each section will provide an intelligible understanding of the data provided in the report. This report incorporates one primary statistical factor: a mean. A brief description of the methodology follows: The mean is the sum of a set of mathematical values divided by the number of values for that series of data. The intention was to focus on the manner in which responses to the various questions were distributed and how they might inform members of IACP.

Synopsis of Findings on Questions 1 - 69

Questions 1-69 were check-off questions addressing a wide range of ethical topics. An overwhelming number of agencies (80.3 percent) reported that they commit resources to train instructors offering ethics courses; and over 60 percent (62.4 percent) reported that they also provide their ethics trainers additional training in adult learning theory. The major approaches these agencies employed in teaching ethics were reported as lecture (78 percent), readings and discussion (67.3 percent), videotapes (53 percent) and video scenarios (49 percent).

Other methods—such as role play (26 percent), computers and games (about 7 percent) were used much less often. Sixty-three percent of the responding departments said that they employed a "standardized lesson plan" for ethics instruction, which means that over a third of the agencies did not equip ethics instructors with planned teaching materials.

The survey results regarding Field Training Officers (FTOs) ethics instruction were not as overwhelming as the reported statistics for instructors in general. Sixty-three percent received some formal training, while only 52 percent indicated they were trained in adult learning theories of education. Quite unexpectedly, only about a third (34.4 percent) of the agencies said they had an ethics category for the evaluation reports filled out by FTOs on their trainees. In other words, ethics-related categories were not included among those used to assess recruits' qualifications and skills in about two-thirds of the agencies surveyed.

When asked about ethics curriculum topics such as decision-making skills, values, code of ethics, officer safety, etc., a significant majority (generally 75 to 90 percent) of the departments reported that these topics were provided in their courses for recruits, in-service and management personnel. One exception to this general observation was in the area of "management responsibility"; only two-thirds (65.9 percent) of the agencies included this ethics topic for their managers. In other curriculum categories, there was very little difference in programs offered for recruits, in-service and management personnel.

One point that was clearly revealed in the survey was that a vast majority (83.3 percent) of the departments were engaged in some form of ethics training for newly sworn officers. Over 505 of the respondents saw this training as fulfilling a "high" need among officers, supervisory personnel and command-level staff. These item responses clearly suggested that there were important concerns about ethics training, and that an emphasis on ethics should be a top priority for all levels of the organization. To address this need, 72 percent of the agencies said that they provide some ethics-related training beyond the basic academy experience.

Questions about how much time was devoted to ethics training provided for some interesting findings. A majority of the respondents (70.5 percent) said that they provided four classroom hours or less of programming. Only 16.8 percent of the respondents mentioned an eight-hour day of training reserved for ethics. For supervisors, 65.1 percent of the departments said they received some kind of ethics training, but again it was generally offered for four hours or less. Interestingly, although most saw a high need for ethics training, the amount of time earmarked for this activity was far less than what might be expected.

In resource commitment for ethics training, 56.9 percent of the agencies said that they sought external assistance in developing their ethics programs. Only about a third (30.4 percent), however, invested in formal training in teaching ethics for their FTOs, while almost two-thirds (63.5 percent) provided ethics training for narcotic and undercover officers. Whether this percentage for drug enforcement activities should be higher or not is difficult to decide. Perhaps it does reflect a concern about the ethical temptations inherent in that kind of work, and represents an effort by at least some agencies to aid in preventing more serious difficulties.

Other findings came from the items asking departments whether or not they addressed ethical issues in specific areas, such as gratuities (81 percent said "yes"), conflicts of interest (76 percent), abuse of force (90 percent), abuse of authority (78.9 percent), corruption (68.6 percent), discretion and the public trust (78.2 percent), cultural diversity (82.4 percent), off-duty ethics (70.9 percent), personal values (61.4 percent) and management of ethics (64.9 percent). What was interesting was the hourly breakdown regarding these issue areas. More time was spent discussing issues related to the use of force and cultural diversity than the other areas. This emphasis probably reflects major concerns in most agencies over the past several years in which the issues of racial discrimination and use-of-force incidents were highly publicized, not to mention highly expensive concerns related to defending against civil litigation.

One major finding was that the amount of time devoted to ethics training did not appear to be consistent with how important the needs were, based on the responses. There seems to be a recognized demand for expanded training hours, more quality training resources and greater involvement with ethics training at all levels of the organization, but the number of hours remains rather insignificant in terms of this recognized demand. It is possible that the gap revealed in this survey between "high need" and training hours devoted to ethics actually reflects changes that are occurring, and there is simply a resource lag while the gap closes. Whether this is the case, only time will tell. Generally speaking, these survey results support the general conclusion that ethics training is considered important by law enforcement agencies, and they are continuing to commit training resources, seeking outside assistance and generally providing some ethical training to recruits as well as in-service and management personnel.

Synopsis of Findings on Questions 69-73

Questions 69-73 consisted of open-ended, narrative and short-answer questions.

Overall, some of the answers were very thoughtful; some respondents provided typewritten pages with attached value statements clearly demonstrating that there was some time, effort and interest in the subject matter.

Other answers were so brief that the answers are subject to varying interpretations and are of little or no value. Some answers contained one or two words, and sometimes the answers were very cynical, such as, "A tiger can't change his stripes." Some answers were not responsive to the questions, and it is believed that these respondents did not understand how serious the ethical issues confronting law enforcement officers are. One respondent provided no answers to these questions.

Responses to the survey research instrument—and in particular to the open-ended questions—varied considerably, and by agency, with some responding to all of the questions and others to none. A breakdown follows:

Overall Survey

# sent

4,784

# returned

874

% total

18%

Open-ended Questions

Full response

52%

Partial response

28%

No response

18%

While the total percentage returned was within acceptable limits, it was somewhat low and, by extension, a disappointment. Moreover, the overall findings should be a relatively accurate reflection of the concerns of most agencies regarding ethics training. Furthermore, the responses to the open-ended questions revealed a paradox between a "clearly perceived need for ethics training" and a lack of "demonstrated concern in the responses."

Question #69: What do you see as the more pressing ethical issues in law enforcement today?

The findings for this question are as follows, and reflect the perceptions of a very significant number of respondents.

Cultural diversity/racism/sexism
Corruption/gratuities
Public trust
Morals/personal values of officers/lack of values in new officers
Honesty
Abuse of force/abuse of authority
Decision-making
Code of silence
Off-duty issues/behavior
Poor work ethic of new recruits
Lack of a sense of responsibility
Lack of role models

Issues considered critical:

Honesty in official reports
Police unions supporting unethical officers
Fabricating evidence/honesty in official reports and embellishing testimony
Temptation to embellish testimony or belief that the truth needs help
Proliferation of drugs with money available to corrupt the police
Lowered standards
Professionalism
Respect
Loyalty
Media

The above offer a substantial reflection of the concerns noted in the surveys. In part, these are evidence of previous "case study" analysis, but they bring a greater level of reliability to the findings. Moreover, the responses reveal some interesting common themes. Those who responded mentioned the importance of a set of agreed-upon foundations for behavior and the need for involvement of supervisors and managers. Further, many of the respondents spoke of the importance of role-modeling in an agency and emphasis on the consequences of behavior.

Question #70: If you could design an ethics training program, which topics would you include?

This question was, to some extent, a reflection of responses posited in question #69. However, there were many occasions where there was substantial divergence. That is, problems as perceived in question #69 did not agree with the responses in question #70. This, perhaps, suggests that there is some level of disarray in terms of what the "critical issues are" and "what should be taught."

Question #71: Please provide us with any "working definitions of ethics" your organization uses.

In this particular case, most of those responding provided members of the committee with various codes of conduct and ethical behavior (e.g., department mission/ vision statements, IACP code of ethics, other specific codes), while only a handful provided any "working definition." To the extent that this occurred, it could suggest that the notion of what ethical behavior is should be more precisely defined as time progresses. In essence, this would provide some common ground from which to determine how to address issues related to ethical behavior.

Question #72: What do you consider to be the most important (or essential) elements or components of ethics training, and why?

One of the indicators that was focused on most frequently was the provision of a definition of ethics. Thus, further support was gained for question #71 (provision of a working definition of ethics).

Question #73: Further comments/suggestions/remarks.

This question was provided as a way in which to provide an opportunity for additional information. Very few agency representatives utilized this chance.

Summary/Conclusions

The overall perceptions of the members of the committee regarding the answers to these five questions was one of some level of disappointment and concern. Nevertheless, committee members do believe that a sufficient number of respondents answered the questions dealing with pressing ethical issues in law enforcement to provide some food for thought and critical insights. While it is impossible to scientifically categorize the poor responses to these questions, an educated guess is that the respondents would generally agree that the following represent the most serious ethical issues that confront law enforcement today.

Ad Hoc Committee Recommendations

If the effort to weave ethics training deeply into the fabric of police agencies is to succeed, it must be undertaken with a clear understanding of the very nature of the law enforcement profession. Police officers take risks and suffer inconveniences to protect the lives and secure the safety of fellow citizens, and they endure such risks and tolerate such inconveniences on behalf of strangers. Consequently, police work is one of the more noble and selfless occupations in society. Making a difference in the quality of life is an opportunity that policing provides, and few other professions can offer.

Therefore, police leadership must meet the highest ethical standards in order to keep the public's trust. As role models for officers as well as the community, police chiefs have an obligation to act in ways that avoid even the appearance of impropriety. In other words, integrity in word and deed, consistent with democratic principles, is one of the better ways to ensure that our organizations can live up to the noble promise of democratic public service.

Recommendation I: Increase visibility of ethics through the adoption of and support for a "Law Enforcement Oath of Honor."

As the effort to incorporate ethics training fully within law enforcement community begins, it will be important to heighten the visibility and awareness of ethics across the profession. A public affirmation to adhering to the current code of ethics and the adoption of an Oath of Honor will have to be undertaken, along with role modeling and mentoring, which are very powerful vehicles for changing behavior. To be successful at enhancing integrity within an organization, leaders must ensure that ethical mentoring and role modeling are consistent, frequent and visible. Therefore, the committee wholeheartedly supported the creation of a symbolic reverberance and public affirmation to attest a commitment to ethical conduct. After numerous drafts and conferences, the following Law Enforcement Oath of Honor was recommended as the IACP symbolic statement of commitment to ethical behavior:

On my honor,
I will never betray my badge,
my integrity, my character,
or the public trust.
I will always have
the courage to hold myself
and others accountable for our actions.
I will always uphold the constitution
and community I serve.

Before any officer takes the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor, it is important that he understands what it means. An oath is a solemn pledge someone makes when he sincerely intends to do what he says.

Honor means that one's word is given as a guarantee.
Betray is defined as breaking faith with the public trust.
Badge is the symbol of your office.
Integrity is being the same person in both private and public life.
Character means the qualities that distinguish an individual.
Public trust is a charge of duty imposed in faith toward those you serve.
Courage is having the strength to withstand unethical pressure, fear or danger. Accountability means that you are answerable and responsible to your oath of office.
Community is the jurisdiction and citizens served.

The Oath of Honor's brevity allows it to be constantly referred to and reinforced during conversations with FTOs and line supervisors. In addition, it can also be

  • referred to by administrators while communicating with others;
  • placed on the back of all academy students' name cards, ensuring that they are looking at it all day;
  • strategically and visibly placed in all police academies and law enforcement agencies;
  • signed by each academy student, framed and hung on the wall;
  • given at all official police ceremonies and gatherings;
  • printed on labels that are placed on equipment; and
  • used as a backdrop in citizens' meetings and news media events.

In conclusion, it is strongly recommended that the IACP adopt the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor and support a nationwide Oath of Honor sign-up campaign. Having officers take an oath will reconfirm the significance of integrity within the agency and help bring the entire profession together to show that the vast majority of law enforcement officers not only are good, decent individuals, but also will step forward to stop unethical acts by any members of our profession.

Recommendation II: Provide job-specific training on ethics.

While the approach to ethics training within a given agency should be viewed as universal in nature, it will be critically important to ensure that specific groups within a department have access to training tailored to their specific needs. Overall training content will be addressed in this section, but specific groups may include:

  • Recruits: Officers new to the profession must discuss the rules and regulations of an agency, while coming to understand the power of the police culture. Recruits should be armed with decision-making tools so they are prepared to make intelligent/ethical choices.
  • Field training officers: FTOs are the most important link in developing a strong ethical foundation and culture within a police organization. FTOs must be schooled in the adult learning process so they are equipped to assist their trainees in learning to behave ethically. FTOs must understand the critical position they fill. It is not uncommon that an ethical situation will surface within the first 60 minutes spent with a new officer. The best illustration of this is exposing the new trainee to a half-price or free meal dilemma. More than any level within a police organization, the very finest, most ethical employees must be recruited and retained as FTOs. FTOs should become a gateway to first-line supervision within an agency.
  • In-service police officers: Tenured officers must be equipped with the tools necessary to identify and analyze ethical dilemmas, and thereafter must possess the ability to make appropriate ethical choices.
  • Supervisory personnel: Supervisors and first-line managers within a police department must understand their role in the development and maintenance of a healthy ethical climate in an agency. Supervisors can no longer absolve themselves of responsibility for misbehavior or personnel under their command. The prevailing attitude of being a popular supervisor rather than being an ethical supervisor must be reversed. This level of the organization, more than any other, must be constantly inundated with ethical situational training and scrutinized for indications of unethical behavior or dilemmas. The consensus of all members of the ad hoc committee identified this level of the police organization as essential in setting the ethical culture in the police profession.
  • Executive personnel: Command-level executives must take the lead in setting an ethical standard for the agency. Development of value statements and a readiness to "walk the line" (serve as a role model) must be critical benchmarks.
  • Civilian personnel: Often overlooked, civilians must understand the vital role they fulfill in the development of a fully ethical agency. Contract issues, records and financial matters are but a few of the areas open to discussion and examination.
  • Specialized unit categories: While much ethics training could be described as "one size fits all," certain specialized groups within an agency have very particular needs. Among those groups are undercover drug personnel, detectives, traffic units, evidence collection teams, DARE officers, property custodians and SWAT officers.

Training focus: It is critically important, from an integrity and ethics perspective, that we not just "talk the talk" but also "walk the walk." Training bridges the gap between written integrity and ethics guidance and direction in the form of policy and procedure (talk the talk) to behavior change in the performance of duties and responsibilities (walk the walk) in police agencies. Training will ensure that police personnel will know what to do, given integrity and ethical applications. Supervision ensures that the policy and procedure and training curriculum are implemented at the operational level. Accountability systems ensure that all components of the integrity and ethics system are working, to include policy and procedure, training and supervision. Training becomes a critical and integral part of this process.

It is our recommendation that integrity and ethics training occur during police recruit training and throughout an individual's police career. Integrity and ethics training should be both general and agency specific in nature. General training would include generic applications that are applicable to all agency personnel. Agency-specific training would include examples of integrity and ethics violations and issues that have occurred in the past within the agency and how those situations should have been responded to by agency personnel.

Reasoning for recommendation: As with other training topics, ethics training is most effective when it is focused upon the specific needs of those being trained. The development and use of customized ethics training tools, techniques, processes and programs should provide personnel with more skills, knowledge and abilities for preventing unethical acts.

Recommendation III: Enhance training curriculum content.

As training programs are created and put into place within agencies, several important points should be carefully considered for inclusion:

  • Decision-making models: Officers should walk out of a training program with a set of tools readily available for use in analyzing ethical dilemmas and choosing among available options. Simply talking about ethics in a class is inadequate; an effective program will provide usable tools available for immediate use outside the classroom.
  • Discussion of specific values or moral anchors: As the tools described above are put to use, officers should be able to look toward a universally agreed-upon set of values to determine whether specific behavior is defensible and appropriate.
  • Examinations of ethical thinking outside the law enforcement arena: In the interest of learning from the mistakes of other groups, regular reading and discussion of a variety of classic cases in ethical thinking should be considered. Roll call, in-service training, and staff and line meetings should be the stage for discussion of ethical situations, with an emphasis on "why" and "how," followed by discussions of how it was resolved and what would be the most appropriate way if time were not a factor to resolve the situation. Feedback, feedback, feedback, combined with development of ethical solutions, must be continually emphasized.
Recommendation IV: Develop the appropriate training style.

Any attempt to incorporate training within the law enforcement community must be carried out within the framework of an "adult learning environment." Too often in the past, ethics training programs have consisted of little more than a lecture or sermon presented in a threatening and offensive tone. In such cases, it is little wonder that officers walk out of the classroom feeling they have, for all intents and purposes, wasted their time. The conscious decision should be made to treat police personnel attending ethics programs as adults, and to utilize the tenets of the adult learning process.

Reasoning for recommendation: The training of police personnel is most effective when the instructors concerned create a training style and environment that lends itself to the learning of adults. In particular, employees must fully appreciate how they will benefit from ethics training.

Recommendation V: Constantly reinforce ethics.

Police administrators must acknowledge that the development of a lasting and fully entrenched sense of positive ethical behavior within an agency will be arrived at only through continuing discussion of these issues. Ethics must be viewed as more than just a "Band-Aid" to be utilized after a scandal has arisen. Instead, personnel at all levels (and at all career stages) must have the opportunity to be reminded of these issues, and to have their decision-making skills refreshed and reinforced as discussed in examples given above.

Reasoning for recommendation: The ultimate solution for officer misconduct is for ethics and integrity to become ingrained throughout every aspect of an organization. Constant reinforcement, whether through training or leading by example, is a necessary element of organizational integrity.

Recommendation VI: Insist on strong recruit ethics training.

Executive summary: It is the recommendation of the ad hoc IACP Police Image and Ethics Training Committee that academies emphasize two major areas concerning ethics:

  1. ethical dilemma simulation training, and
  2. ethical perspectives on each training topic presented.

Specific recommendations:

  • Incorporate an ethical perspective to all topics covered in the police academy curriculum.
  • Have the academy director, when addressing the new recruit class for the first time, emphasize ethics and integrity, and stress that these two concepts are the highest priorities of the academy.
  • Have every instructor in each training topic area address the ethical perspectives of each specific topic, and require them to substantiate such perspectives in lesson plan construction.
  • Prominently display motivational posters or other similar types of signs within police facilities. Such signs might include the Value Statement, Oath of Honor, Code of Ethics, short articles of an ethical nature and reports of positive ethical behavior by members of the local agency or other departments.
  • Distribute wallet cards with the Oath of Honor or key information on ethical decision-making models for ready reference.
  • Print an honor code, Oath of Honor or ethics statement on desk nametags so officers can be constantly reminded of the issues they represent.
  • Present a formalized four- to eight-hour interactive ethics training presentation. Primary focus should be on dealing with current, real-life ethical dilemmas.
  • Create ethical decision-making "tests" to be given periodically to recruits and in-service trainees.
  • Require recruits to read a current book that discusses ethics and promotes integrity. The book should then become the basis for class discussion and written examination.
  • Facilitate lecture and emotional role-play scenario training that teaches officers the need for intervention, as well as how to professionally intervene when another officer appears about to commit an unethical act.

Reasoning for recommendation: Ethics instruction has not been a high priority within basic police academies. As such, academies sometimes conveyed the message that ethics was not a critical issue. Every instructor should address the ethical perspectives of each training topic and use the most effective tools and techniques available.

Recommendation VII: Focus on FTO ethics.

Executive summary: As mentioned previously, FTO programs must immediately become a major focus of law enforcement's efforts to prevent officer misconduct. FTOs should conduct ethics training in two major ways:

  1. through ethical dilemma simulation training focusing on previously documented unethical cases involving new recruits, and
  2. by including ethical situational training components on the Training Checklist.

Specific recommendations:

  • Make the integrity and positive mental outlook of potential FTOs a high priority in their selection.
  • Ensure that FTOs thoroughly understand that they create the "organizational culture" of the patrol division, accept the responsibility, and have received FTO training that addresses this fact.
  • Enlist administrators' deep support for the FTO program.
  • Ensure that administrators follow the document-supported recommendation for termination of a recruit by FTOs, unless not doing so is truly justified.
  • Have FTOs address each academy class to explain the upcoming FTO process.
  • Add "Integrity/Ethics" to the trainee daily observation/evaluation report.
  • Ensure that background investigator(s) have FTO experience.
  • View members of the FTO program as part of the hiring process.
  • Officially place "Integrity/Ethics" on the FTO training topic checklist.
  • Confirm that each new officer has identified whom he talks to about any ethical dilemma, as a means of support.
  • Provide lecture and emotional role-play scenario training that teaches officers the need for and how to intervene when another officer appears to commit an unethical act.
  • Train FTOs in how to use audio and/ or video ethics simulation training for new officers.

Reasoning for recommendation: FTOs have a substantial impact upon the prevention or creation of unethical acts by patrol officers. Historically, law enforcement has not recognized this fact. The result was that ethics was seldom a training topic within FTO programs. In addition, the fact that the beliefs and attitudes of FTOs are usually replicated by recruits was not considered.

Recommendation VIII: Provide continual in-service training.

Executive summary: Ethics must immediately become a major focus of law enforcement's in-service training efforts. Departments should conduct internal ethics training in two fundamental ways:

  1. provide mandatory annual ethical dilemma simulation training, and
  2. require that instructors of each training topic address the ethical perspective of the topic they are presenting.

Specific recommendations:

  • Ensure that every instructor of each in-service class addresses the ethical perspective of what he is training.
  • Use internal e-mail, newsletters or other correspondence to disseminate words, quotes or verbiage dealing with ethics.
  • Develop lectures and emotional role-play scenario training that teaches officers the need for and how to intervene when another officer appears about to commit an unethical act.

Reasoning for recommendation: Ethics training must become a component of all internal instruction. Taking advantage of current ethics training techniques and tools can assist and enhance in-service ethics training. The neglect of in-service ethics training has frequently been present when employee misconduct occurred.

Comments

In order to have a viable and effective integrity and ethics impact within a police organization, it is critical that an integrity and ethics emphasis be infused into an agency's policy and procedure, training, supervision and accountability systems. This integrity and ethics infusion should have generic and specific applications. It should be generic in that certain integrity and ethics principles are applicable to all personnel in every assignment and at every level within the agency. It should be specific in that there are unique integrity and ethics applications to each assignment and position in a police agency.

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