The Ethical Decision Making Process within the Law Enforcement

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The data is examined through the lens of entitlement and social identity theory. Findings suggest that the causes of unethical decision-making and behavior by law enforcement is complex and consistent with both social identity theory (police culture, environment, opportunities, leadership and socialization) and entitlement theory (leadership, management, police work, and exposure to violence and corruption). Findings are discussed and recommendations for reform are made.In the course of executing their duties, law enforcement officers consistently fact a number of ethical decisions (Miller Braswell, 1985). Ethical decisions relative to law enforcement officers include interacting with diverse races, the human rights of suspects, interaction with offenders, and opportunities for accepting bribes and corrupt behavior. Unethical decision-making, therefore, translates to police misconduct which typically includes behavior characterized by perjury, extortion, bribery, brutality, sexism, and/or racism (Miller and Braswell, 1985). During the latter part of the 20th century, public attention to unethical decision-making by law enforcement reached an all-time high following the police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles (Barker, 2011). Other incidents of police unethical behavior and widespread corruption during the 21st century included corruption in police departments in New York City, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Detroit, Atlanta, and New Orleans (Barker, 2011). Corrupt law enforcement departments and officers in the 21st century can be added to reported incidents of convictions overturned and cases dismissed because police officers either falsified reports, lied in warrants and court, and planted evidence (Barker, 2011). This kind of unethical behavior is characterized as corrupt because it iscomprised of three elements: illegal behavior. abuse of a position. and involves a personal benefit or reward on the part of the officer.