What is the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor?

What is the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor?

ResolutionPresenting the Oath of HonorOath of Honor for Framing

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Police officers take risks and suffer inconveniences to protect the lives, defend civil liberties, 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.

A public affirmation of adhering to an Oath of Honor is a powerful vehicle demonstrating ethical standards. To be successful at enhancing integrity within an organization, leaders must ensure the oath is recited frequently and displayed throughout the organization as well as ensuring ethical mentoring and role modeling are consistent, frequent and visible. The following Law Enforcement Oath of Honor is recommended as by the International Association of Chiefs of Police as symbolic statement of commitment to ethical behavior:

On my honor,
I will never betray my badge1,
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 constitution2
my community3 and the agency I serve.

Before any officer takes the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor, it is important that he/she understands what it means. An oath is a solemn pledge someone makes when he/she sincerely intends to do what he/she 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 and ceremonies. 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 by the IACP that all agencies adopt the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor. 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.

The Law Enforcement Oath of Honor can be adjusted as appropriate for nations, countries or governments by inserting the appropriate terms. For example:

1 Insert appropriate term such as: badge; profession; country
2 Insert appropriate term such as: constitution, laws; monarch
3 Insert appropriate term such as: community; country; land; nation

The International Association of Chiefs of Police: IACP Homepage