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Code of Ethics Problems in American Law Enforcement

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Many ethical beliefs come to mind when dealing with my personal beliefs like the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics. When factoring the three most important, I established mine to be, treating others fairly and equally, avoiding inflicting pain and suffering on others, and lastly, showing compassion to others. These are my top three beliefs for many reasons. The main reason is simply because of how I was raised and the lessons, I learned from practicing these ethics while growing up and to this day. I believe that following these three ethical principles shapes and mold you into a better person.

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One ethical principle I cherish deeply is treating others fairly and equally. This ethical principle holds much in my life simply because of how I was raised. One should never inflict pain on someone else, that they wouldn’t want to be inflicted back on themselves. Treating others fairly and equally is key in today’s world and will continue to be because even though we are all different, we are all deserving of fair and equal treatment. I am a firm believer that treating everyone fair and equal builds character and in all, makes you a happier person and those around you happier. Secondly, avoid inflicting pain and suffering on others. As stated, prior, one should never inflict pain that they would not want to feel. When one causes pain to someone else, it holds much emotion and pain behind it. I find no reason to inflict pain and suffering on anyone, for any reason. I do not find any action to do so justifiable or morally acceptable.

Lastly, show compassion for others. Showing compassion for others truly shows how much one cares about other people. When compassion is shown, trust and other positive emotions can be built. Many individuals were raised to be compassionate which will continually help them throughout their lifetime. Furthermore, compassion will always help you with understanding others and helping in situations where one is most needed. Though I was raised to follow these ethical principles, it was not always as easy as it sounded. For example, it was very hard for me when I was in high school to follow the principle of do not inflict pain and suffering on others. When in high school one is in the state of mind to ‘get even’ or give what was given to you. Though many will purposely degrade and hurt you, one should not return it. So, when issues like such arise, I would try my hardest to still show compassion because harming others eventually only harms yourself. Ignoring the pain and suffering that may be inflicted also challenges your compassion towards those who even hurt you which ties both ethical principles together.

Another example that challenged me with my beliefs would be treating others fairly and equally. In high school, some people will see a social chain or pyramid. Meaning some would be more popular and others would be considered lower, or less important. In high school, I believe this was a struggle for almost everyone because of the state of mind we are in at the time. When I saw people, I thought were below me, I would ignore or dismiss them. Looking back, I see how this harmed those individuals but I also now see how it harmed myself. When looking back, I see friendships I could have made and opportunities I may have missed out on and it challenged me. Now, in college, I realize there is no such thing as a social chain or pyramid. I now see that my many great friends may be nothing like me but they are better than those I had in high school who were on my imaginary social pyramid.

Professional Ethical Principles

Upon graduation, I would like to be working as a crime scene investigator. Working as a crime scene investigator comes with a professional code of ethics. The code of ethics for this given profession defines a framework and promotes truthfulness and deference for the scientific process, uplifting a research-based culture.

Through the codes of ethics for crime scene investigators, many can relate to ethical principles. For example, of the sixteen ethical codes, one is communicating honestly and fully, once a report is issued, with all parties (investigators, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other expert witnesses), unless prohibited by law. (National Commission of Forensic Science, 2015) This rule composes of honesty. Crime scene investigators need to do this properly because it will help in court cases if necessary and it will also give family members of the deceased closer. As for this given rule, I believe it will be easy to follow. I believe this to be so because honesty is always the right thing to do, lying and bending the truth will not help anyone, it will only harm you and others involved. Many personal instances can be used to explain how honesty is best, but in summary, being dishonest will not help you in any circumstance.

Secondly, another ethical code speaks of conducting complete, true, and unbiased examinations, leading to independent, impartial, and objective opinions and conclusions. This ethical code can revert to treating others fairly and equally. If this is not done in a job position this important, it can disturb many things such as cases. One can not make assumptions at all, this profession consists of only research-based facts. This means, that this profession leaves no room for personal opinions and biased thoughts. This ethical principle may be more difficult because everyone has an opinion, but in this job, it can not interfere with one’s work. When looking at this ethical principle and applying it to professional ethics, it may be quite difficult for me. Again, everyone has strong opinions and beliefs, therefore trying to keep it out of my profession may be difficult because of how opinionated I am. To resolve this issue and how I have dealt with it is to realize, that my opinion does not always matter and everything and everyone should be looked at factually, fairly, and equally.

Lastly, do not alter reports or other documents, or withhold information from reports for deliberate or tactical process advantage (Association of Crime Scene Reconstruction, 2019) If one decides to do so, this could compromise one’s career. This ethical code plays part in the ethical principle of opposing injustice. Altering or dismissing the information, has the potential of losing your job, interfering with a given case, and also, ruining the trust your coworkers and other parties have in you. For myself, I see this as a very easy rule to follow. I can see no reason fit to do anything to jeopardize a report. When looking at it from my past perspective I believe cheating can be an example of this ethical code. To alter your answers for a better grade and advancement in class is an injustice action to only better yourself. To simply avoid this issue, one must think of the consequences, which can be the failure of a class or academic troubles. To deal with this issue is to simply not do it. It is not only ethically wrong; it is morally wrong.

Challenges

Though there are many ethical and professional beliefs I believe I can keep, there may be some I struggle with more than others. Within the crime scene investigator profession, I may want to promise to find results or a breakthrough on the scene so I can put those trying to investigate and the families an answer. I know it is wrong to make promises I can not keep, but professionally I know I will desire to bring assurance and some sort of peace to a family. This will interfere with my personal and ethical beliefs deeply. As a resolution, I hope to know that I am doing the best I can, at the correct pace and give clear and factual answers. Though it will be hard to not make promises to detectives and families for an answer, it is only the best option.

Another challenge I may face is avoiding harm to others. Anything I find at a crime scene or the things I see will inflict pain on myself and those related who were harmed. Avoiding inflicting pain and suffering on others is a huge personal belief of mine. To avoid this issue, I need to keep in mind this isn’t an easy job, and I will, unfortunately, have to break terrible news and facts. Although this profession is extremely important, ethical and professional issues will arise. As stated by Barnett in a recent article, it is hard to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth because what is the whole truth, and what does it include. Does it contain all the possibilities and all the probabilities? (2001) As a crime scene investigator, or any profession in a forensic field, there may be many answers or probabilities to one question and on the stand, what exactly is the whole truth? In my eyes, this may be the biggest personal and professional ethical dilemma. Another issue stated by Forensic Pathways is the basis. This basis consists of a personal basis and a conformation basis, which is when we lose our ability to be objective. Which goes against the ethical principle of remaining fair and equal. (2015)

In conclusion, everyone has personal beliefs they hold, but professional ethics will come as well. Though these are two different beliefs, we need to be able to hold together and do what is best when it comes to our careers. Hold onto what is personal in our lives and beliefs, but always stay professional in your line of work, and support the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics. These are two very important beliefs, but the question remains on can one handle the interferences and how.  

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