Ethics in Law Enforcement

The International Association of Chiefs of Police defines a code of ethics that all police officers must follow. Law enforcement officers face many ethical issues daily when performing their duties. Some of the typical contemporary ethical issues involve honesty and the use of necessary force. An example of ethical concerns in honesty is when police officers knowingly engage in criminal activities. Federal agents arrested a drug task force commander in February 2011 for conspiring to sell drugs (Cohen, 2021). Ethical issues emerge in using force since governments give police officers discretionary power. Video surveillance showed a Dallas police officer kicking a handcuffed prisoner in the face (Cohen, 2021). Police officers might apply deadly force to a person who does not pose a threat.

Law enforcement agencies and courts of law have put several efforts in place in reducing unethical activities in the police departments. For example, to curb unnecessary use of force, police officers undergo mandatory ethical training that focuses on human emotions. This program enables officers to handle their adrenaline during fight or flight scenarios (Cohen, 2021). Furthermore, the judiciary should ensure that the police use their discretionary powers impartially. Lastly, to solve the issue of dishonesty, the police department should carry out intensive background checks on all applicants interested in being officers. Background checks will prevent people with criminal history from applying to the police.

Police departments put a lot of effort into ensuring that recruits are comfortable with the environment and culture. Some of these efforts include recruits establishing a solid moral foundation. The law enforcement agency teaches recruits police values, principles, and missions (Cohen, 2021). In addition, the agencies build a culture of integrity around the newbies through compliance programs and encourage them to report unethical cases. In my opinion, dishonesty is the most unethical issue in law enforcement since 46% of all corrupt cases involve dishonesty (Cohen, 2021) hence the need to solve the problem of dishonesty.

Dishonesty and use of unnecessary force are common unethical cases in police agencies. Governments can solve unethical issues through ethical training, amendment of laws, and trainees’ background checks. Recruits should know police values and have integrity. Dishonesty is the most common crooked problem in the police.


Cohen, G. (2021). In Pursuit of Police Ethics: An analysis of ethics content in state-mandated basic police training curricula. Public Integrity, 1-14.

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1. LawBirdie. "Ethics in Law Enforcement." August 24, 2023.


LawBirdie. "Ethics in Law Enforcement." August 24, 2023.