Police officers are sworn to protect and serve. In order to fulfill that mission, law enforcement officers must have an ethical code. Police ethics are fundamental towards building trust between officers and the communities that they serve. Ethical conduct on the part of police improves communication and promotes shared responsibility with the community in addressing crime.
A code of ethics is a police officer’s moral compass, allowing the officer to exhibit qualities of superior character that not only guide the officer in his or her conduct, but also promote the officer as moral standard within the community. Any ethics training, however, must acknowledge that police officers will need to exercise discretion in the performance of their duty. This discretion, while the essence of police work, is not carte blanche for officers. This where a code of ethics enters the picture.
At a more basic level, police ethics can be seen as risk management. When the officers on the streets have been properly trained and exhibit ethics, the risk of injury to people, property, and police reputation are much lower. Negligent policing often results from imprudent judgment on the part of both the individual officer and the department. Police ethics demand that all parties involve strive for excellence in the performance of duty.