Criminal Justice Ethics
The criminalization of minorities in the USA has a long history that results in increase in the quantity of unfair cases of accusation of the minority representatives. Thus, we have agreed that it is a huge problem in our society, while talking with my friend. In fact, we are both concerned about it. The information about police brutality appears frequently in news. Actually, it is the first thing that comes to my mind, when I think about police. We read the report on police violence and it reported that 346 black people were killed by officers in the US in 2015. Thus, unjustified shootings, a severe beating and unnecessary rough treatment of the suspects caused such a huge amount of black people killed. It is a problem and cases of brutality that usually involve representatives of minorities captured a lot of public attention previous year.
The problem of violent behavior of police demonstrates that the officers do not show a lot of respect to the rights of minorities and human right in general. At the same time, they stay unpunished for their actions, while violating the human rights in many cases. In cases, when a suspect is a representative of minorities, the police officers are tempted to use more force than is actually necessary. That is why, public trust to police declines. The police have a right to use violence when required, but if they exceed their powers it raises a lot of questions, especially, when their abuse of authority influences the minorities that live in the USA. It is not possible to trust the policeman, who thinks that it is acceptable to use more force than is allowed by law. Sometimes the police officers just want to get a conviction, while doing their work, and nothing can stop them.
Actually, it is a common thing for some officers to believe that crime is connected with minorities and they decide that it is fine to use more force that is legally allowable. One more problem is caused by a silence of officers, who have noticed an abuse of authority. In this situation, the workers of police are acting with impunity and think that their actions are completely allowable. Many officers think that police brutality is created by the public and media and there is no reason to be concerned about this problem. However, the public memory about the bad news about police is much longer than the good news. What concerns the representatives of minorities, who work for police departments, they are sure that this problem exists and the disparities are real. From their point of view, officers treat whites better.
The police officers keep abusing their authority because they do not understand that it can badly influence them in future. In many situations, the officers do not carry any personal responsibility, if no one finds out that they have used more force than they should. A convicted person does not want to say anything about it because of the fear that it can only result in a more violent behavior of the officers. Moreover, other officers also do not want to write a report on their co-workers. Such a situation only causes a mistrust and disrespect of people to them. The aim of the police is to protect the citizens, and they should understand this fact. However, they are using power they have in a wrong way. The officer uses it against people, whom they should protect. The representatives of minorities, who have faced a violation of their rights by the police, will never be able to respect it and it can only lead to police violence. Thus, the circle of aggression is created that can be solved only if something will change. The worst consequence of their actions is the fact that people, who lost trust, resist the police, when they are trying to arrest them. Such a situation can cause death of a police officer, for which the minorities are usually blamed. They should understand the thing that they and their colleagues are also responsible for such crimes. Sometimes a person, who is not guilty, can resist to the officer because they suspect that officers will find a reason to convict them in something. Moreover, they do not think that policemen have enough professional ethics and that they will treat any representatives of minorities the way they treat the whites. As long as police will not understand all the problems mentioned above, there will still be victims from both the side of minorities and the police. Only the cooperation of citizens and officer can improve the existing situation. People should understand that all their actions have consequences and never forget about it. Moreover, the police should take some actions to return back the trust of citizens that can help to solve the problem. The police should understand that there is no way that the problem of police brutality will disappear if the society is already concerned about. As soon as the police will start to take active action to solve this problem, they will be able to get back the trust of the minorities that is now at very low level. The police should create some actions to control the officers and make sure that they do not use more force than they should. At the same time, the police should understand that a bad reputation of one officer can result in the negative image of all the police system. For this reason, it is not acceptable for the officers to keep silence if their co-worker does something wrong or uses too much force against minorities. However, the change cannot be made without the cooperation with society. The citizens also should not be browbeaten and afraid to tell if they observed the abuse of authority.
The other important thing that influences the actions of the police is their moral values and normative ethics. That is, probably, the most important requirement for the people, who want to work in this sphere. Moreover, it is important for them to demonstrate morality, because a person with such a quality will always think that it is not possible to abuse the authority in any case and will not treat people unequally in relationship to their race or nationality. People, who work at police, should demonstrate such values as integrity, honesty, kindness, be hard-working, show compassion, empathy and sympathy. The promotion of these values can have a big impact on both the police system and people, who do not think that the officers believe in the importance of these qualities. The officers should have an aspiration to make our society a better place to live for everyone, not for a certain race only. Treating everyone equally and understanding that all the people have the same rights can help to achieve such a goal. For all the western democracies, it is a very important goal nowadays and all of them are trying to achieve it. At the same time, people, who know that they only behave in a certain way to correspond their moral principles, will not do something they think is not possible to achieve. The idea of being moral should be developed in the minds of the police officers and must represent a part of their personality. Dozens of examples of unethical behavior of the police can be found in media or expressed by the citizens. In fact, it is hard to believe that a person, who can do something unethical, can be responsible for protection of people and be trusted to use force against people. Vast majority of police can be very hard working and dedicated. However, as long as some representatives are not demonstrating enough morality and ethics, people will not believe that all of them are truly reliable.
The police departments are responsible for the safety of citizens; it means that the police have a moral responsibility for the society. As a member with authority, the officer represents justice. The moral duty of police officers is to protect people and they are obligated to perform protective actions any time. Sometimes they need to make difficult moral choices. The moral obligation of the police is to use their force wisely in the cases, when a lower degree of force is insufficient. All the decisions the police officers make are regulated by law, but they are still humans, who have free will within allowed actions at the same time. The officers should understand that human life is the highest value in the society and their decisions should be based on this moral principle no matter, which race they are working with. There is no excuse for the officers to be more violent to people due to their race and they should keep in mind that all the human lives are equal. In fact, the police officers should remember that they have moral responsibilities that cannot be violated. The society delegates them a legal right to use force, but it only means that they received additional responsibilities together with additional rights. There are two questions, which each police officer should ask himself before doing something. The first one is what can be legal and the second one is what is moral to do in a certain situation. Even though the officers are legally obligated to act morally, they still have a choice of how much force to use according to their will.
The fact mentioned above show that there is a visible connection between the action of police and their reputation in the society. All the actions have consequences and the police are not an exception from this rule. Sometimes it is hard to find and see the connection between the actions of police and their reputation, but it definitely exists. The causality is a complicated thing, but we should understand that even a small action that can be defined to be wrong can result in something that will have a negative consequence in future. For example, the reputation and trust to police can be deteriorated even, when they speed up too much in the places, where it is not allowed or not necessary to do. Such actions show citizens that some officers do not have respect to all the laws and think that they can violate some of the laws and stay unpunished. Then people ask themselves if it is normal for the police to break some laws, whether they can violate any law whenever they want. In this case, the citizens will only make a conclusion that the police are not legitimate, thus, no one can control them and stop them from committing a crime or abuse of their authority. In order to change the perception of the police in the minds of people, they should make many small and big changes in their behavior. People keep their eye on the police officer not only, when he/she works, but also in officer’s everyday life. In fact, all the perceptions create a public image of the police. It is much easier for one police officer to spoil the reputation of all the other officers by making something unethical, than for one good policeman to improve the reputation of the police. The same idea works for the minorities, who know that, in general, police treats them worse and use more force than is actually needed. So, the minorities will assume that they have no chance to be treated equally with whites and can possibly be unfairly convicted of something they have not done.
To conclude, I would like to say that we can change the situation only after considering all the problems. Thus, we have agreed with my friend that the action of the police must be based on ethical objectivism. Therefore, the police must work on the improvement of their morality that will take a lot of effort. In fact, training and educational programs may help to solve this problem. The other concept the police should understand is an ethical universalism. It means that all the ethical standards and principles are universal. Moreover, the principles cannot be different in relationship to race and religion, as all the people should be treated the same way. The police officers should have the same attitude to all the people. This principle should be applied to all the humanity. In fact, it is an objective concept that works in democratic societies. The police should also take into account an idea of ethical relativism. That is a belief that society ethics can be change and it develops over the time. In this concept, ethics is understood to be right and appropriate, and everything wrong is inappropriate for the people to do. According to this belief, the views of right and wrong depend on an individual, culture and historical period, and are determined by the society, where people live. Actually, there is no objective universal standard. However, my friend and I believe that it is not possible to make a change in the relations between society and police without using and understanding these concepts. Bringing change in the minds of people and the police can represent a difficult process, but we can make our society safer and destroy disparities between minorities only by taking some action.