About the Oath
The Oath of Honor provides the law enforcement profession with a concise, powerful and universal process by which officers can affirm and periodically reaffirm their ethical values and beliefs. This concise oath summarizes police values in a simple statement lending itself to continuous and convenient application in both public and professional settings. It is easily institutionalized, understood, and remembered. The following Law Enforcement Oath of Honor is recommended as by the International Association of Chiefs of Police as a symbolic statement of commitment to ethical behavior.
The Law Enforcement Oath of Honor can be adjusted as appropriate for nations, countries or governments by inserting the appropriate terms. For example:
- Insert appropriate term such as: badge; profession; country in line two.
- Insert appropriate term such as: constitution, laws; monarch in line eight
- Insert appropriate term such as: community; country; land; nation in line nine
Understanding the Oath of Honor
A public affirmation of adhering to an Oath of Honor is a powerful vehicle demonstrating ethical standards. Before officers take the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor, it is important that they understand what it means. An oath is a solemn pledge individuals make when they sincerely intend to do what is said.
Using the Oath of Honor
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 Oath of Honor's brevity allows it to be constantly referred to and reinforced during conversations and ceremonies. Below are some suggestions.
- Recite the oath at all official police ceremonies and gatherings
- Create posters of the oath and display in strategic and visible places, including police academies, briefing rooms, offices, and hallways as well as public access areas
- Have each academy class sign a large poster of the oath and display this signed copy
- Print on the reverse side of officers' business/commission cards
- Include the oath on training certificates and awards
- Print the oath on department items such as coffee mugs, key chains, patches, pins
- Refer to the oath when communicating with others;
- Use the oath as a backdrop in citizens' meetings and news media events.
The Oath of Honor and the Code of Ethics
The Oath of Honor works in concert with the Code of Ethics. The two statements are mutually supportive and not in conflict with one another.
The Code of Ethics, even as modified to reflect local values, is a very powerful and comprehensive document that provides considerable specificity and detail with respect to ethical values and expectations.
The Oath of Honor reflects these same values and expectations, but in a more easily understood and powerful manner. The Oath of Honor facilitates institutionalization through verbal reaffirmation, incorporation in training materials, placement on brochures and equipment and continual reinforcement through a variety of media.