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Character and Cops: Ethics in Policing; Second Edition

NCJ Number
E J Delattre
Date Published
333 pages
This book explores the ethical standards that govern police commands and individual officers in pursuit of their duties and more broadly addresses issues of individual character, public trust, corruption, moral training, and ethics education as they apply to society at large.
The opening chapter describes personal character and shows how morality concerns good character and right action and emphasizes connections between wisdom and integrity in public and private life. This is followed by a chapter that describes the ideals of a constitutional republic and the mission of police in such a republic. The next chapter expands on the nature of the police mission by explaining the concept of public trust and describing the kinds of people who are qualified to serve the public. Chapter 4 focuses on the nature, place, and limits of discretion in policing, and Chapter 5 discusses corruption, hypotheses about its causes, and the power of individuals to resist it. The effective uses of authority for reform, departmental leadership, and the moral dimensions of public policy debates are discussed in the next three chapters. Chapters 9 through 11 address police training in relation to good character and good judgment. Chapter 12 discusses the importance of wisdom and character in facing the death of a friend, partner, or loved one; the bereavement of others; and the aftermath of deadly force. Chapter 14 addresses the threat to ethics in policing posed by the cynical, yet fashionable, insistence that police departments are mere microcosms of society in general. The concluding chapter addresses ethical ideals, youth violence, and gang enforcement. This second edition has added material on the Rodney King beating, gang-based violence, and the tragedy at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. An appendix contains a guide for designing academy courses and programs in ethics. Notes and a subject index