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Students should choose one these topics and write about its relevance to police ethics. Be thinking about identifying the major talking points about your topic that are important to review. Critically assess the literature on the subject.

Police Professionalism and Responsibility in Relevance to Police in the United States of America

Police Professionalism and Responsibility

Introduction
The question of Ethics is something that has been plaguing philosophers since the early days. There is a specific branch of philosophy that looks at ethical issues, and whether this might be right or wrong. It looks at what is the underlying factor that decides whether conduct or behavior is right or wrong(Van Craen, 2015). It looks at matters of value, which is why ethical philosophy is branched under axiology.There have been many philosophers who have looked at the question of ethics, and what comes under ethics. Some of the most important people include Plato, Nietzsche and Buddha(Blumberg, Giromini& Jacobson, 2015). There are different types of ethics, and each of these philosophers looks at ethics differently.
Morality, on the other hand, looks at the decisions made by human beings, and the intentions behind the actions, to decide whether it is proper or improper. Morality is often derived from specific codes of conduct that are often based on religion and culture, and sometimes philosophy as well(Holdaway, 2017). While ethics and morality often differ, the main difference between them is that Morality often derives itself from ethics, but rarely do ethics derive from morality.

Ethical decisions are often the main factors in professionalism and responsibility, especially when it comes to the police. The following paper looks at some of the elements that are responsible for the professionalism and accountability of the police in the United States of America. It looks at some of the possible areas where there is a lack of ethics, professionalism and accountability, and how it is affecting the way that the public views the police force. Some possible theories of ethics have also been applied concerning the police force, their decision-making process and also aims to offer recommendations on how this can be improved for the organization as well.
Issues in terms of lack of ethics, responsibility and professionalism
Racism

One of the biggest issues that are faced by the police force would be in terms of the violence to which they have been known to treat people of African-American origin. There have been numerous reports of police shooting African-Americans instead of approaching them calmly, as many activists claim that due to a biased perception people think African-Americans are more violent. They are also likely to carry guns and shoot the police(Lever &Poama, 2018). This is a question of ethics and professionalism, since there are numerous videos which show that the police shot an unarmed Black Child who was playing near his grandmother's house, or a female police officer shooting a Black man in his own apartment, which she had mistaken for her apartment, while not even drawing the gun when there is an armed white man waving his weapon around(De Schrijver &Maesschalck, 2015).

Most officers defend this, with the idea that they thought that there was a danger, and it is often police protocol that states that in terms of risk, they may shoot. However, this often defined by the police subculture, which is laced with racism in most cases. This is because the police subculture, which usually starts in the academy when recruits are training, is behind the changes that happen in culture outside the police. The culture further installs traits of cynicism, authoritarianism and suspicion(Van Craen, 2015). This also adds to the lack of ethics in terms of the way that normal society views ethics. For example, in a traditional community, it would be perfectly alright for an African-American individual to reach into the back of the vehicle, or the glove compartment to reach for a pen, a cellphone or the registration. However, in the case of a police officer, it might immediately arouse suspicion, which would mean that they would shoot. This is also an ethical dilemma that many police officers face.

Most police officers also have an us-vs-them type of mentality, which is also a way in which racism is propagated in the US. A majority of the police officers are white, and thus, they often tend to view African-Americans as the other, and this could have severe consequences for the way that they would act, along with the ethical mindset that they have, the professionalism that they display and the amount of responsibility that they take for their actions(Donner, Fridell& Jennings, 2016). All of these lead to a higher chance of shooting, and a higher conviction rate amongst African-Americans.

Response to Domestic Violence

Continuous research over the years has indicated that most police officers do not take a domestic violence call seriously, and act responsibly unless the victim is in life-threatening danger. This is a severe case of violation of ethics, responsibility and professionalism amongst the police force.

There are many indicators of domestic violence, starting from mental and emotional abuse and violence, as well as physical abuse, that the victim often lies about, or is forced into lying about it. When the victim does eventually tell the police, many officers have been found to take it lightly and dismiss it as a family matter(McCutcheon, 2017). This often leads to an increased escalation of the violence, which often results in the death of the victim, her family, and innocent bystanders as well(Banks, 2018).

There is also research that shows that most public shootouts in the USA have had perpetrators who had been accused of domestic violence as well. This is indicative of the level to which these claims should be taken seriously. The police officer often must register a complaint immediately after the victim has spoken to the officer, and also to gather as much evidence of the assault as possible(Nhan, 2013). However, often due to the tone, or the way of speaking, many women are reluctant to the police about her crimes.

Many women also find that understanding the police have for abuse was very limited. They felt it was limited to physical abuse, and insisted on the need for the women to collect "hard evidence" against their perpetrator. It would have been essential for the police to take incidents and complaints of stalking and harassment seriously because it was their responsibility and it would have been professional conduct to do so. However, due to some factors, the police do not take concerns seriously(Myhill& Johnson, 2015).

This is also a question of the ethics of the police department, and the inherent sexism that is often found in the police department as well. These complaints against the police and law enforcement should be taken seriously to ensure that there are professionalism and responsibility within the police force.

Brutality and Corruption

Another threat to professionalism, ethics and responsibility in terms of the police force and law enforcement is corruption. There have been cases of fraud that have been discovered at various places. In the United States, police corruption is often something that is not widely discussed and portrayed in the media as corporate corruption, but it is something that has been known to exist(Braswell, McCarthy & McCarthy, 2017).

The United States Police force has been charged with murder and killings multiple times. Police officers have been known to break the law and face criminal charges multiple times, and this is also a case of lack of responsibility and ethics(Brown & Daus, 2015). In a recent case, thousands of police officers in Baltimore were charged with many corruption charges, including selling drugs, guns and prostitutes. This would be in line with the corruption that the media recognizes and reports on, and is somewhere in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The main duty of the police officers would be to ensure that any illegal dealings, whether it be drugs or guns, is criminalized and the people who orchestrate these crimes are persecuted for their crimes. However, in cases of corruption, it is often the police themselves who are criminals, thus, putting the justice process at a standstill.

Police Brutality is when the police use unwarranted force while in their official duty. Police brutality could be physical, such as excessive beating and punishment to get a confession, or psychological, such as intimidation tactics. Police brutality is often racially or ethnically motivated in many cases, with Muslims and African-Americans being the primary target of the cruelties(Porter &Prenzler, 2016). There is also the issue of socioeconomic status that enters into the equation when talking about police brutality, primarily because it would be easier to, for example, be brutal to a homeless man than to someone who lives in the rich part of town, and is of higher socioeconomic status, and be able to get away with the brutality.

Like corruption, police brutality often goes unreported, and the statistics on the same have not been found anywhere. There are only reports of brutality when it comes to the protest that erupts due to the brutality in an area(Rivera & Ward, 2017). There have been books written about police brutality, and one of the most important books in recent times is The Hate U Give. These books provide insight into the ethical questions that often accompany questions on police brutality.

Blue Wall of Silence

The Blue Wall of Silence is another question that often accompanies questions of ethics, professionalism and responsibility in the law enforcement. This code is often considered to be an example of the level of corruption that exists within the justice system in America, and how skewed the ethics of various law enforcement officers are, that they will not testify if another office has committed a serious crime.

This is often mainly due to the belief that the law enforcement is a family, and that any allegations of the police against their own family would mean ostracization of the member who made the complaint(Brandl, 2018). It is often seen in the case of the police that family do not snitch on one another, which is primarily where the question of the Blue Wall of Silence comes in. There has been significant research into the amount of damage that the Blue Wall of Silence can cause, and it has been suggested that the potential impact of this can lead to police brutality, corruption and other issues such as perjury going unsolved.

There are not many reasons that an officer would go against another officer and indulge in whistleblowing(McCutcheon, 2017). It would most likely happen in cases where the officer has seen innocent victims being murdered, which has tripped their conscience. However, it does not occur in most cases, since it is often going against the ethics of brotherhood, and the fear of consequences as well, which might even include physical violence. This is also as a result of the us-versus-them mentality that police officers have been known to inculcate from the training days(Porter &Prenzler, 2016).

All of this has been regarded as a case of violation of ethics. However, whether it is professionalism, and the responsibility of the officer to report on another officer is something that has been hotly debated over the years(Blumberg, Giromini& Jacobson, 2015).

Ethical Theories

Many ethical theories can aim to look at professionalism and responsibility of the police in the US.

State consequentialism

This theory looks at how much the intended action can impact the value of goods to the state. By this theory, most police actions, such as racism or brutality, or even perjury, might be beneficial to the country, since the consequences of the action would be the potential removal of another criminal from the streets(De Schrijver &Maesschalck, 2015). In this theory, the basic goods would be order, material wealth and increase in population. Thus, by this theory, the responsibility of the police would be to ensure that there is order in the state, which would be maintained by ensuring that the public understands the nature of the police and the potential harm of going against the police(Braswell, McCarthy & McCarthy, 2017). It would also be of benefit to the state, and thus, many actions such as brutality to get a confession, falsifying documents, and the blue wall of silence would be beneficial to the state.

Post-Modernism

Postmodernism or post-Modern theories of ethics look at human behavior as something that is apart from ethics, and not something that can be solved easily. This theory looks at human behavior as messy and unchangeable(Lever &Poama, 2018). Thus, by this method, the police brutality and issues that were discussed above would be unchangeable and should, therefore, be accepted as part of the problem, and people should learn to move on from them. This also argues that ethics and morals are complex and should thus, be looked at from multiple perspectives, instead of just one(Brandl, 2018). It also argues that narrative should be taken into account when looking at ethics. For example, the narrative regarding the shooting of a police cop, or an officer looking over complaints of violence or corruption should be taken into account so that the issue is learnt from both sides and the question of ethics arises after it has been understood.

Anarchist Ethics

Anarchist Ethics argues that ethics itself is evolutionary, and as society changes, ethics too are liable to change. In the case of police professionalism and responsibility, this theory might be able to explain the evolution of some of the issues. This might explain how the evolution of the police being a brotherhood, and the us-versus-them mentality came into place, and how it could be evolved into discrimination against people of African-American origin, and Muslims(Banks, 2018). This is one of the main theories by Peter Kropotkin. He also suggests that the main principle behind these types of ethics is the idea of equality. This type of ethics looks at anthropology and biology, which would suggest that police officer, have had biological changes, and a change in character when entering into the police academy, and that this is the way that society has been working for years(Donner, Fridell& Jennings, 2016). It does not claim that the actions are ethical but aims to understand the history behind how these actions came to questioned ethically.

Consequentialism

This looks at the question of whether or not an action is ethical by looking at whether or not an act is ethical by looking at the consequences of the act. If the act that is done has a positive consequence and is found to benefit not just the individual, but the society at large, then the act would be deemed as positive(Brown &Daus, 2015). However, if the act is not found to be of any benefit to the individual or the society, it would be deemed as unethical. Thus, if the action that the police officer has taken, such as accepting a bribe, is beneficial for them, then according to this theory, it would not be a violation of any form of ethics.
This theory can be used to justify most of the behavior of police officers (Myhill& Johnson, 2015). However, it can also be used to villainy their behavior as well.

Recommendations for Improvement

Some actions can be taken to improve the ethical nature and to bring in responsibility and professionalism.
The first action would be to remove the idea that police officers have to protect each other against everything (Rivera & Ward, 2017). This would mean that a police officer who is whistleblowers have to be given extra protection, and any police officer found maintaining the Wall of Silence would be punished as well.

The second possible action would be to ensure that police are given training in the institute. This would include sensitivity training to ensure that there is an effective system by which they can understand and help victims of violence and abuse(Nhan, 2013). This would ensure that there is protection given to the victims and that more victims come out, which would also be extremely beneficial to the police officers as well.

The third action that should be taken by the police would be to ensure that any officers not following the law, and actions of police brutality, are prosecuted to the full extent of the law (Holdaway, 2017). It would also mean that victims of such crimes would have to come forward to testify against the police, but that is something that most victims, provided they are given protection are willing to do.

Conclusion

It can thus be seen that there are some serious violations of ethics and responsibilities amongst the police when it comes to some issues such as sexism, racism, brutality, corruption and reporting another police officer who has been caught for committing a crime. These issues are these because of the inherent bias that is present in the police, and this is a bias that is drilled into the recruits from when they are training. This is a case of ethics because it can have a significant impact on how the police function, and on what is right and wrong.
The theories of ethics also aim to provide a fresh perspective into police professionalism, and the issues that have been discussed as well, and how it can have a significant impact on the way that the public perceives the police force. The main theories that look at ethical behavior would be the Anarchist theory, consequentialism, Post-modernism and state consequentialism.

There are also recommendations made on ensuring that the police is responsible and professionalism, and it follows the ethics as laid out by society as well. Some of this would include ensuring that police have mandatory training in ethics, as coded by current standards in society. It would also mean that any police officer who does not act ethically, and a professional manner, be punished according to the greatest extent of the law.

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