Police Officer Ethics: A Self-Assessment

Curriculum Content Summary

Length of Course: 20 hours

Target Audience: Line Officers, First Line Supervisors, Managers, and Community Members

Delivery System: Regional Community Policing Institutes (see map)




This course represents a compilation of ethics and integrity training developed by the network of Regional Community Policing Institutes (RCPI) funded by the Department of Justice Office of Community Policing Services (COPS). The training guides participants through an interactive learning process of ethics skill building and personal introspection. The course includes basic ethics training; decision-making and critical thinking skills; and practical application in scenario-based ethical dilemmas. Finally, each participant develops a personal Action Plan that identifies areas that they wish to address, change, or improve. The Action Plan is plan is a confidential document for use only by the participant.






This module is designed to provide participants with a foundational basis from which to assess their personal and professional ethics and behavior. It deals with the role of the police, their relationship with the community, personal and professional ethics and legal standards and their implications. This is the first of three modules designed to take individuals through a process of assessing their own ethics and identifying areas for change.






This module provides participants with information on moral development and ethical decision making. Through various exercises and scenarios, participants explore the characteristics of the six stages of moral development according to Kohlberg. As participants work through the exercises and discussions, they are encouraged to apply new knowledge to their own experiences in their personal and professional lives.






In this module, case studies from the Ethics, Integrity and Moral Decision-Making publication are presented and discussed at length in small group settings. Each scenario defines the misconduct, dilemmas (complexities and pressures), and defining moments (those deeply personal moments when we make decisions that define who we are) for each case. Participants process each case with a set of guided questions designed to engage them in critical thinking.




AssessmentFoundation Reflection


This module brings together key points from all the modules for review and reflection theories, tools and strategies through an interactive, competitive activity. The session ends with a final “reflection” exercise that culminates with the participant developing a personal ethics action plan. The plan is written, placed in a self-addressed envelope and sealed by the participant. It is then turned in to the course facilitator for mailing three months later. This Action Plan serves as a reminder for the officer to gauge his progress in implementing changes or improvements that he/she identified during the course.

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