Police Officer Code of Conduct

Police reform has been a significant topic of discussion since the beginning of summer. Cities and states across the country opened up talks about various budget concerns and the potential to reallocate funds from police departments to other sectors in need. In Virginia, Democrats in the state senate unveiled a package of Police reform, including a ban on no-knock warrants, training for officers in de-escalation, the creation of a statewide code of conduct, and a ban on police departments obtaining surplus military equipment.

With this in mind, police departments need to look inward and review their police officer code of conduct to ensure public service and safety are upheld.

A Look at Police Code of Conduct

Police, and those in law enforcement, hold a position of public trust. After all, the motto is to protect and serve. A police officer’s fundamental duties are to protect lives and property and ensure that laws are enforced justly.

In most countries operating under the rule of law, the public expects the police to be an impartial party, fair and responsible in the enforcement of public order and the laws they’re paid to uphold.

Most police departments use a code of ethics for the conduct of the police officers and others involved in enforcing the law.

These codes usually include:

  • Respect for the civil and constitutional rights of all persons
  • Obeying the laws of the country and the regulations of the department
  • Being honest and not using the office for personal benefit, refusing personal rewards and gratuities for official conduct
  • Impartial and professional behavior and action
  • Respecting the confidentiality of the office and the information of citizens
  • Cooperating with all legal agencies in the pursuit of justice
  • Never use excessive force or violence

That last piece of the code of conduct is one that is getting the most attention. There are thousands of excessive use of force complaints brought against departments every year. By shining a light on this subject, both the public and law enforcement have been rightfully forced to review codes of conduct and the ethics of the position a police officer holds.

By talking about police officer ethical issues and reviewing these codes, police departments can start to change the way they serve the public while still serving justice.

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