POLICE OFFICERS OATH OF OFFICE AND CODE OF ETHICS A QUESTION OF

POLICE OFFICERS OATH OF OFFICE AND CODE OF ETHICS A QUESTION OF free pdf ebook was written by Dtaylor on November 19, 2002 consist of 32 page(s). The pdf file is provided by www.emich.edu and available on pdfpedia since April 18, 2012.

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POLICE OFFICERS OATH OF OFFICE AND CODE OF ETHICS A QUESTION OF pdf




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POLICE OFFICERS OATH OF OFFICE AND CODE OF ETHICS A QUESTION OF  - page 1
POLICE OFFICERS OATH OF OFFICE AND CODE OF ETHICS A QUESTION OF KNOWLEDGE By Richard W. DeShon St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department Submitted to Eastern Michigan University School of Police Staff and Command March 31, 2000
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POLICE OFFICERS OATH OF OFFICE AND CODE OF ETHICS A QUESTION OF  - page 2
ABSTRACT Two of the most neglected areas of police work are code of ethics and oath of office. These two documents are the most important issues of truth and integrity a police department has with the community it serves. Most police agencies have neglected these issues and do not fully understand the impact they have on the community they serve. Studies have shown the distrust the public has with several different professions, the police being one of these professions. In my research I surveyed a small group of police officers that produced data supporting the publics’ fear of distrust. This problem can be corrected by the police departments doing a better job of training and educating our officers on the Code of Ethics and the Police Oath of office. ii
POLICE OFFICERS OATH OF OFFICE AND CODE OF ETHICS A QUESTION OF  - page 3
TABLE OFCONTENTS 1. ABSTRACT .................................................................................................ii 2. INTRODUCTION..........................................................................................1 3. ETHICS DEFINE .........................................................................................3 4. DO WE REALLY KNOW WHAT OUR OATH MEANS ...........................6 5. PUBLIC TRUST IN THE POLICE..............................................................9 6. ADOPTING THE CODE OF ETHICS .......................................................11 7. SURVEY ON OATH AND ETHICS ...........................................................12 8. CONCLUSION.............................................................................................20 9. REFERENCE..............................................................................................22 10. APPENDICES APPENDIX A – The Constitution of the United States ................23 APPENDIX B – The Constitution of the State of Michigan..........24 APPENDIX C – Deputy Sheriff Oath of Office..............................25 APPENDIX D – District Court Judge Oath of Office....................26 APPENDIX E – Law Enforcement Code Of Ethics......................27 APPENDIX F – Police Officer Survey Questions .........................28 APPENDIX G – First Ten Amendments to Constitution..............29 iii
POLICE OFFICERS OATH OF OFFICE AND CODE OF ETHICS A QUESTION OF  - page 4
INTRODUCTION There are many issues facing today's police officer and police supervisor. Some include the police use of excessive force, deadly force, police corruption, police pursuits and other popular police related topics. While all of these have problem areas, there are two police topics that touch on all the above issues, police oath of office and the code of ethics. Today’s police officer is working in an era where the public's opinion of the police is influenced by the negative stories they read in the media, as in the Rodney King and Malice Green cases. On top of all the media influence of police misconduct, is the public’s view of all the misconduct by our political leaders. The public is concerned over its own ethics and morality because it has no trust in its leaders. I will cover this issue in the chapter on "Public trust in the Police." There has never been another time when police officers and political leaders were viewed by the public with as much distrust. There has also never been a greater need for the police to understand their oath of office and to be trained in ethical decision making as well as ethical behavior. In this paper I will show how the police officer doesn't understand his responsibility and commitment to his police oath of office and in turn his code of ethics. To accomplish this I have given a survey to several Law Enforcement Officers of all levels and agencies. Clearly the survey shows police officers do not understand that the oath of office they take is one of the most important statements made in their career. I will also discuss the current state of police ethics, both from the police oath and from my own police experience. 1
POLICE OFFICERS OATH OF OFFICE AND CODE OF ETHICS A QUESTION OF  - page 5
Before beginning a discussion on the police oath of office and code of ethics, both must be defined. There is very little written on the police officer oath of office. I was forced to look to the political area on oaths and identified the origin from the United States Constitutional and Michigan Constitution. The oath of office and police ethics discussed in this paper is looked at as one in the same. Police ethics is an issue of how to behave. The oath is a sworn commitment to act in an ethical manner. You can't have one without the other being affected. 2
POLICE OFFICERS OATH OF OFFICE AND CODE OF ETHICS A QUESTION OF  - page 6
ETHICS DEFINED Ethics has many definitions and philosophers of ethics have defined it several ways. My understanding of ethics is in the belief in God and the drive that people have to please God by doing good for others. As a parent I have told my children that they are not put on this earth to please themselves, but to make other peoples lives better. When my children finally understood this they become mature, caring adults. A Duch philosopher, Benedict De Spenoza said, "Because God is infinite and the creator of all, understanding God is the most important goal in life. Those who understand God will desire good for others and behave ethically toward them.” (Spenoza, 1995). This one statement sums up the duties of a police officer, to serve others and protect from evil. With this in mind, ethics means to do good or to do right. Definitions of ethical behavior vary from generation to generation and from culture to culture. Generally ethical behavior includes the following qualities; honesty, integrity, fairness, loyalty, kindness, courage generosity, compassion, doing good, doing right, and unselfishness. When people display these qualities, they are behaving ethically. In my readings on ethics I have found there are three areas that have traditionally influenced people to do right or behave ethically, the family, religion, and government. The family is the first social organization that children belong to and the one from which they receive their first and most important lessons on ethically behavior. Teaching our sons and daughters to do good for others by how the family 3
POLICE OFFICERS OATH OF OFFICE AND CODE OF ETHICS A QUESTION OF  - page 7
lives, is without a doubt the most influencing of the three. Religion also motivates people toward ethical behavior. All religions focus on moral ethical beliefs and codes of conduct in their traditions. The third influence on ethical behavior is government and its laws. Many people need the constraint of laws to behave legally and ethically. Others obey laws out of a moral duty to conform to societies' rules. Family, religion and government have traditionally been powerful motivating forces for ethical behavior for all of us, but lets look at the area of ethical behavior in police officers. The following definitions are those most commonly used during ethics training for police officers: Ethics is a code of values that guides our choices and actions and determines the purpose and course of our lives. Ethics is not a written code or credo, it is about what we do. (Southwestern Law Enforcement Institute, 1995). Michael Josephson Ethical behavior is a standard of conduct when dealing with others that reflects a public trust attached to a police officer. Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (1998) Ethical concerns the study of right and wrong, duty, responsibility and personal character. Ethics is concerned with moral duty, what is morally right and wrong, etc.. Close and Meier (1995) Police officers must be held to a higher standard of moral and ethical values then is expected of the average person. Police officers need the trust and respect of the public to perform their duties and responsibilities effectively. This trust does not come without the officer knowing and understanding his sworn oath and code of 4
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ethics. 5
POLICE OFFICERS OATH OF OFFICE AND CODE OF ETHICS A QUESTION OF  - page 9
DO WE REALLY KNOW THAT OUR OATH MEANS? All police officers throughout this country must take a sworn oath before they are authorized to perform the duties of a law enforcement officer. Is this oath a superficial statement made by our police officers without any understanding of what they are swearing to? Do they really know what the oath requires of them? I think most police officers as well as politicians are just reading the words without any understanding. The oath holds curtain major responsibilities and obligations that the average citizen or businessperson does not have. Before I discuss the oath I will point to its origin and attempt to define it. In America the police officer's oath originates within the United States Constitution (Appendix A). The title of executive officers mentioned in the constitution refers to police officers working under the executive branch of the government. In the United States Constitution under Article IV it states: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution..." (U. S. Constitution 1787) The State of Michigan also covers language requiring an oath of office before entering upon the duties of a police officer. Article XI, sec.1 in the Constitution of the State of Michigan (Appendix B), states; "All officers, legislative, executive and judicial, before entering upon the duties of their respective officers, shall take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation: I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution 6
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of the United States and the constitution of this state, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of ______ according to the best of my ability..." (Constitution of the State of Michigan 1835) I am very aware of my oath of office, mainly because I must take it every four years after the new sheriff has been elected to his office. My oath follows the same wording as that of both the Constitution of the State of Michigan and the United States Constitution. (Appendix C). I have also attached a copy of a local District Court Judges oath for comparison (Appendix E). It is quit clear that both the U. S. Constitution and the Michigan Constitution hold police officers and politicians accountable for their actions. If the oath is such an important word and referred to in both Constitutions, it is our job to know and understand what this word means. The American Dictionary of the English Language, define an oath as: "A solemn affirmation or declaration, made with an appeal to God for truth of what is affirmed. The appeal to God in an oath, implies that the person imprecates his vengeance and renounces his favor if the declaration is false, or if the declaration is a promise, the person invokes the vengeance of God if he should fail to fulfill it. A false oath is called perjury." (Webster Dictionary 1828) We should also define the Oath further, concerning how we administer it. In my twenty-two years as a deputy sheriff and appointed by the Sheriff five separate times, I have always raised my right hand and "solemnly swore" to up hold the constitution. When defining solemnly we look to corporal. Black's Law Dictionary defines solemnly as: "Corporal oath is one taken by the form of laying the hand on or kissing a 7
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