The Code of Ethics Every Police Professional Should Follow

Every police professional has a code of ethics they must follow to ensure they are serving the community’s best interests. Police officers are in authoritative roles, which means they have a massive impact on communities. Unfortunately, this can lead to abuses if the department culture doesn’t prioritize ethics, putting officers and the city at risk of civil suits.

The Steps for Every Police Professional To Take

As providers of liability policies, insurance agents can point out preventative measures to avoid accusations of brutality. Therefore, one essential step is establishing and enforcing a police professional code of ethics.

Recognize Community Faith in the Police Professional

Communities place much trust in the police, and officers must be worthy of it. According to the code of ethics for police officers set forth by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, those carrying the badge must be aware of their position of power. When they interact with civilians, there is automatically a power imbalance; civilians don’t have true agency in this situation, especially if they’re in custody. Police must remember this power imbalance, as even unintentional abuse can be life changing.

Departments should work hard to rebuild trust in communities where abuse is rampant. Chiefs must acknowledge that this process can take time and refrain from blaming community members for acting according to their previous experiences. While every neighborhood is different, police professional organizations can start the process with the following efforts:

• Seek community policing training.

• Interact with residents daily.

• Bring community leaders into policy discussions.

Accept Personal Responsibility

Police professional liability protects the department, but individual officers should still take personal responsibility for mistakes, no matter the consequences. A lack of accountability can undo efforts to build good faith among the populace.

Departments should have written policies detailing disciplinary proceedings for officers who don’t follow procedure or otherwise act unethically. While departments need some flexibility to evaluate on a case-by-case basis, the process should be transparent enough to avoid questions of favoritism.

Chiefs should also foster an environment of accountability by encouraging officers to hold their peers to high standards. Police should expect their colleagues to report unethical conduct rather than cover for someone who lacks personal integrity.

Expectations should also go beyond behavior on the job. Police are role models for their neighborhood whether or not they’re in uniform. Unbecoming behavior is just as unacceptable in personal affairs as at the station.

Keep Personal Feelings Out of Police Professional Procedure

Everyone has biases; most people don’t even know when they’re acting on a subconscious bias. These biases are insidious, as cultures often reinforce them constantly and subtly. Unfortunately, these implicit biases can affect life-or-death situations when the police get involved.

Police officers must recognize they are vulnerable to implicit bias and take steps to mitigate the effects. One step is completing diversity training and learning about the systems of power that impact communities, such as racism, sexism, and poverty. Examining these complex issues can help officers recognize and dismantle their personal biases.

Finally, a police professional should never assume guilt before investigating a situation. Snap judgments can lead to confirmation bias, disregarding evidence that conflicts with preexisting beliefs. This pitfall can seriously pervert the course of justice and undermine community trust.

About PGUI

Professional Governmental Underwriters, LLC., is a full-service risk management company dedicated to assisting public, educational and non-profit entities in the management of their professional liability exposures including educators liability insurance. We are dedicated to providing state-of-the-art professional underwriting management and loss control advisory services on behalf of our designated carriers. For more information, call us toll-free at (800) 586-6502.