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Policing and Integrity

Abstract

This paper aims at establishing an in-depth understanding of integrity as a vital concept in policing. The paper first describes the meaning of integrity in policing context as an individual self determination to do the right thing in all situations without supervision from anyone. The paper focuses on five common traits that facilitate the lack of integrity in policing. Such include  morally weak-willed, moral chameleon, moral opportunism, moral hypocrisy and moral self deceiver. Secondly, the paper discusses the role of integrity in policing such as enabling officers to forge a healthy relationship with the public, make sound decisions and enabling the officer to be truthful in their doings. The paper also discusses the factors that hinder integrity. This includes individual traits, tendency to succumb to social pressure and police corruption. Finally, the paper addresses the possible ways of improving police integrity, suggesting options such as opening the disciplinary process to public scrutiny. The paper concludes that integrity is a central mission of policing which enables officers to effectively enforce the law.

 

Introduction

In the modern society, it is almost impossible to define policing based on roles.  Initially, the primary purpose of the police was enforcing the law in the society.  However, their role has evolved to encompass some tasks such as providing services, preventing crime, maintaining order, among other jobs that were not initially under the umbrella of law enforcement (Davis, Ortiz, Euler, & Kuykendall, 2015). Moreover, policing is also inherently involved in the processing and distribution of information in the society. As the functions of the police increases, there is a need for the officers to uphold integrity by being honest in their doings. This paper seeks to establish an in-depth understanding of integrity to draw a conclusion.

Understanding the Meaning of Integrity in Policing

Integrity refers to the determination and a settled disposition where an individual develops a habit of doing right without anyone to supervise them but themselves. Integrity is the greatest achievement an individual can attain, but it is the most difficult. In policing, integrity is a central mission. A police officer with integrity has little or no record of misconduct or corruption (Prenzler & Ransley, 2002). In this context, the agent accepts the values and moral standards of policing with honesty. As a result, the officer owns the virtues of their profession. In the long run, the officer develops a personal ambition to consistently act according to the virtues, values, and standards of policing in spite of the external pressure. Lack of integrity in policing is facilitated by five common traits. The first trait is moral opportunism. This character is observed in the police officer who frequently changes their values to achieve their self-interest in the short run.  The second trait is moral chameleon where a police officer succumbs to social pressure to accommodate others eventually abandoning the vowed principles. The third trait is seen when an individual is morally weak-willed. Here, the officer has set positive virtues, but is not courageous enough to implement them.  The fourth trait is moral self-deceiver where an officer thinks they are acting on core virtues and principles, but they are not. The final trait is moral hypocrisy where an officer embraces virtues for public consumption and actual use as the moral code.

Role of Integrity in Policing

Integrity is a central virtue in policing, and it makes it easy for the police officers to effectively do their duties. A fundamental role of integrity in policing is that it enables the officers to have the capacity to do the right thing without supervision. The police officer will ensure he is truthful and open in all his dealings not only to his colleagues, but also to the public.  As a result, the officer will shun from making false, inaccurate and misleading statements either in writing or orally in connection with their duties (Davis et al., 2015).  Secondly, integrity enables a police officer to forge a healthy relationship with the public. The society will only have confidence in a policeman if they trust his/her dealings.  Members of the public are less likely to help the police and engage in law breaking activities if they perceive the law enforcing agency as unethical (Tim, 2009). Finally, integrity enables the police officers to make sound decisions while performing their duties. As law enforcing officers, police always encounter tempting situations where they are offered bribes in terms of cash or gifts. In such scenarios, a police officer who upholds integrity will analyze the motives of such gestures before accepting them.

Factors that Hinders Integrity in Policing

One of the key factors that hinder integrity in policing is corruption. Police corruption involves all activities that inhibit officers from doing their duties with honesty for the benefits of all. This includes acts such as bribery, framing, violence and brutality, racism, destruction of evidence, nepotism, and favoritism among others (Tim, 2009). Corruption in policing is facilitated by a number of factors.  For instance, the police task involves low managerial visibility. Due to lack of direct supervision, it is hard for the seniors to detect the malpractice in the system. Moreover, police corruption is involved in all the ranks in the system making it hard for the competent officers to tame it. Another factor that hinders police integrity is the tendency to succumb to social pressure. Social pressure in policing is observed in various forms such as physical intimidation, verbal disapproval among others. It may come from the colleagues, bosses or even the public.  Finally, police integrity is also hindered by the officers’ individual traits.  For instance, not all police officers are rational. Rationality calls for discipline of purpose which enables one to select set goals and fervently pursue them. This forms the foundation of integrity.  Making rational decisions allows ones to utilize fully their knowledge based moral values.

Possible Ways to Improve Integrity in Policing

Enhancing police integrity is a challenging task due to nature and the environment surrounding policing.  One of the most practical approaches for the police managers to improve integrity is by addressing and disciplining minor offenses (Davis et al., 2015). For instance, the police managers should consider taking strict measures for veteran officers who intimidate newly employed police officers to engage in corrupt activities. As such offense may appear minor; it will profoundly determine whether such officer will embrace such acts in the future. By addressing minor offenses, the officers will avoid being involved in major offenses too. Secondly, there is a need for the disciplinary process in policing to be open for public scrutiny. In this context, the officer will perceive integrity in policing as the serious issue that highly defines their jobs. Moreover, it will be easier to curb malpractices being experienced at the higher ranking in the system. Opening the disciplinary process to public scrutiny also attracts more positive ideas to enhance the process (Prenzler & Ransley, 2002).  Finally, the training of police officers should be improved in the areas such as cultural awareness and ethics.  This will equip police officers with vital moral codes that will encourage them to always strive to do the right thing in all situations based on their supervision.

Conclusion

The above discussion clearly shows that integrity is a central mission in policing. Integrity enables police officers to be truthful in their doings, forge a positive relationship with the public and enhance their capacity to make sound decisions. However, police integrity is hindered by individual traits of an officer such as being irrational. Another factor that hinders police integrity include police corruption and tendency to succumb to social pressure.  As the key concept in policing, integrity can be enhanced using approaches such as addressing and disciplining minor offenses, opening the disciplinary process for public scrutiny and improving officers training in areas of cultural awareness and ethics. Police officers who uphold integrity will perform their duties efficiently.

Reference List

Davis, R., Ortiz, C., Euler, S., & Kuykendall, L. (2015). Revisiting “measuring what matters” developing a suite of standardized performance measures for policing. Police Quarterly, 18(4), 469-495.

Prenzler, T., & Ransley, J. (2002). Police reform: Building integrity. New York: Hawkins Press.

Tim, P. (2009). Police corruption: Preventing misconduct and maintaining integrity. New York: CRC Press.

 

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