Part of the responsibility of any law enforcement organization is to effectively address ethical dilemmas. Often during these investigations, it is discovered that other outside organizations must be consulted or brought into the investigation because their own investigation may fall into the jurisdiction of other law enforcement organizations. This can be both a positive situation, as additional resources can be used that would not normally be available to a local law enforcement organization, or negative if too many hands in the investigation cause major confusion to arise regarding who is responsible for what part of the investigation. Not all law enforcement organizations may have the same focus or goals in the investigation. Please respond to the following:
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Law enforcement agencies are a very attractive
target when it comes to litigation. Thus, civil liability is a concern
in American policing and will continue to be. Often, civil lawsuits
against police are filed when they abuse their power, are negligent, or
violate the civil rights of a citizen. Police officers and
administrators understand the possibility of litigation. However, the
circumstances where they will be held liable are not always clear. For
this reason, police administrators need to understand the law and how
police practices can potentially lead to litigation. Their goal is to
minimize the risk of lawsuits in their department because the costs of
liability in policing can be astronomical.
You are the new police chief of a large city. The police department in
your city has several complaints filed in the past year with Internal
Affairs about certain police practices that some of the complaints
allege police corruption. Corruption is a persistent problem in American
policing, and it is essentially a misuse of authority for personal
gain. It is not always easy to decipher what acts are classified as
corruption. As a police chief, you are concerned that these complaints
may turn into lawsuits against the city police department that could
potentially cost millions of dollars. You have never had to deal with a
lawsuit against the city police department at any of the previous
departments that you commanded. You want to understand more about the
nature of civil liability associated with policing.
Also, because you are a new police chief, you are trying to correct all
the problems of corruption and these complaints, where the most
prominent complaint is over police corruption. You know that police
officers often go to lunch at a local family-owned restaurant in the
city and receive free meals. You remember from your police academy
classes and your AIU classes that you are not allowed to accept gifts
from people while you are on duty; however, you know that many officers
in your department accept free meals and gifts. While at lunch one day
with some of your officers, you go to pay for you meal (which is valued
at approximately $10.00), and one of the officers tells you that you do
not have to pay for your meal at this restaurant. You pay for your meal
but are concerned about the comment, so you decide to write a memo in
APA format to your subordinates about the following issues and
questions. You must write a paper of 2–3 pages outlining your thoughts
about the issues and back up your thoughts with cited facts.
•Should you pay for the meal or take the free meal? Why? Does it make a difference if you are on-duty or off-duty?
•Is accepting a free meal ethical as a police officer?
•What are the pros and cons in accepting the free meal? What are the pros and cons in not accepting the free meal?
•Do you think that police officers should be held to a “higher standard” than people in other professions?
•Do you think that the police department can be sued over accepting free lunches?
•What are some of the more common reasons why people sue a police department?
•Can someone sue the police in a state and federal court? Explain.
•What is the harm caused when someone sues a police department?
•How can civil liability be reduced?