Integrity and Police Work
There are few professions either in criminal justice or beyond which are more rigorous, challenging and complex than police work. The law officer must face an array of challenges too various and potentially dangerous to elaborate here. On a daily basis, the officer must work to uphold the law while simultaneously protecting the public, preventing criminal behavior and apprehending those who violate the rule of order. These challenges create a condition in which there is often tremendous pressure upon the officer to behave with honor and integrity. This pressure is precipitated not just upon the unpredictable nature of the fieldwork relating to policing but is also often a consequence of the negative internal culture that permeates some precincts. It is therefore incumbent upon every individual police officer and upon precincts as whole units to resist, prevent, uncover and eliminate the kind of system-wide corruption that prevents officers from conducting themselves with integrity.
A good example of the type of systemic corruption that can challenge the integrity of individual officers is that relating to the practice known as racial profiling.
According to the standards for police integrity authored by the U.S. Department of Justice (2001), any such policies which discriminate in law enforcement are to be considered unlawful and out of step with the comportment of police work with integrity. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “Law enforcement officers should not consider a persons race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation in deciding which vehicles to subject to a traffic stop, search, or other post-stop action, except where officers are on the lookout for, or are seeking to stop, detain, or apprehend one or more specific persons who are identified or described in part by these characteristics.” (U.S. Department of Justice, p. 15)
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