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Your Law Enforcement Branch Training Presentation Conduct Unbecoming
Conduct Unbecoming Conduct Unbecoming is a phrase used to refer to behavior considered dishonorable. Its origins are military, though it is occasionally used in other fields to describe ungallant behavior.
Professional Standards Division In an earnest effort to operate a law enforcement center, police and sheriff’s departments rely heavily on public trust. Because these departments consist of humans for operating, the departments are fallible, as are their personnel. Our police officers and sheriff’s deputies sometimes make errors in judgment and some of these errors may be criminal in content. It is for this reason law enforcement agencies developed divisions within their departments to investigate allegations of criminal activities, both with and without intentions of malice on the part of the accused officers or staff. These divisions are called Professional Standards Divisions, or Internal Affairs. It is the duty of the IA officers to thoroughly investigate allegations made against law enforcement officers by both citizens, as well as other officers of the law. According to an article written by Jon Arnold "Internal affairs investigation: the supervisor's role". FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, The. FindArticles.com. 12 Jun, 2009. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2194/is_n1_v67/ai_20545280/ he states “From television crime dramas to police novels, internal affairs investigators have become the pariahs of fictional law enforcement agencies. Unfortunately, some real-life police departments treat internal affairs investigators the same way.”
Professional Standards (cont.) All investigations take time and IA officers must be thorough and honest in their findings in order to present an unbiased and truthful report of findings. Because the Professional Standards Division investigates the actions and complaints of their fellow officers, most of the officers do not trust nor like those who respectfully work Internal Affairs. What these officers are not understanding is that the Professional Standards Division is in existence to ensure the highest quality of service and professionalism to the general public. Law enforcement officers must maintain a higher level of honesty and professionalism standards than most private sector employment positions. Ethical Standards are of the utmost importance in law enforcement. Whether you are a police officer, deputy, investigator, chief, sheriff or any one of a number of public trusted law enforcement personnel, you are not above the law nor department regulations.
Questionable Conduct If you have ever watched television programs that depict law enforcement officers of questionable conduct, then you pretty much understand what is meant by questionable conduct. Officers that are “on the take” are only interested in maintaining the extra income that is derived from their illegal activities. Although not all officers are involved in situations that question their conduct or their ethics, all officers may end up paying for the negative conduct of those officers who are. An example of this is seen in the Rodney King police brutality case from Los Angeles, California. Although Mr. King did in fact violate the law, those officers involved in the apprehension and subsequent illegal abuse of Mr. King violated not only their codes of conduct, but their ethics and the law. Extreme questionable conduct was observed when National Guard troops were sent to Kent State University in Ohio to quell a protest being put on by students of the university. On Monday, May 4, 1970 Guardsmen shot into the crowd 67 times for 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent disabilities.
Questionable Conduct (cont.) In the case of the Ohio National Guardsmen, the protest was the result of President Nixon announcing the American invasion of Cambodia. “Eight of the guardsmen were indicted by a grand jury. The guardsmen claimed to have fired in self-defense, which was generally accepted by the criminal justice system.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_State_shootings Although this was not the actions of a law enforcement agency, the conduct on the part of the guardsmen was questionable according to news accounts and legal experts. The outcome could have been the same if these were law enforcement officers instead of national guardsmen. Because of the actions by officers such as those involved in the Rodney King beating and other similar incidents, the general public will always question the actions of law enforcement. It is for this and other reasons that conduct standards for law enforcement officers must be high. Without the standards which govern our conduct, law enforcement would be a rogue, chaotic practice lacking regard for truth and honesty within its ranks.
What Types of Conduct Should Be Reported? No matter where you are or what you’re doing, someone is observing your conduct. It could be someone at the local store, a child walking down the sidewalk or even your local mail carrier. If your conduct is questionable to them, it’s reportable. And, if your conduct is above reproach, someone may even report that! What we all must remember is that YOU are the many faces that make the single face of your law enforcement agency. When your conduct is in question by the general public, we are all being judged, even if you are out of the area of your jurisdiction. Never do anything against your agency that could result in your being dismissed from your job. Nothing is more important nor more valuable than your reputation. Keep it clean, and if you see wrong, report it!
Ethics “The rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group or culture such as medical ethics; a system of moral principles.” www.dictionary.com
Ethical Dilemma Test Am I acting out of anger, lust, peer pressure or greed? Is my decision legal? Would I do it if my family were standing beside me? How will it make me feel in 20 years? Is it worth my job and career? What would I do if I were being video taped? Would my loved ones be proud or ashamed? Am I following the Golden Rule? Never Compromise Your Integrity
Conduct Unbecoming What constitutes Conduct Unbecoming? Here is a list of conduct that will get you every time:
Public Fighting or Disorderly Conduct
Use of illegal narcotics
Acts of theft
Lying to employer or employer’s representative
Misappropriation of department and/or public property
Falsifying official documents
Conclusion So the next time you do something that you think may be routine, you’d better check to ensure you’re not violating either the written law, or department policies relative to your personal and professional conduct. Remember, no matter what you do, there are consequences. Good or bad, the consequences will not remain hidden for long and you will have to answer for your conduct. Are you prepared to face those consequences and stand up for your actions? If you have that sneaking suspicion that what you may be doing is questionable, don’t do it. Before you act check with someone who knows the answer as to whether you are inviting trouble based on your actions. And never forget that there is always someone watching you and expecting you to do your job and conduct yourself with the highest of standards. After all, you represent not only your department but law enforcement in general.
This PPT is the property of ProBusMedia – This training presentation designed by Professional Business Media Creations, 2009. All Rights Reserved