Policing amount of latitude in their decision-making

Policing is often considered a
career that is wrought with many ethical and moral complexities, creating a
landscape filled with many “grey” areas (Neyroud and Beckley 2001). The study
of police ethics is especially important in light of the functions and duties
of the police. Police officers act as agents of formal social control, giving
them the power to exert more influence and control on the lives of other people
(Walker, 1993). They use the law among a number of other resources to
facilitate the restoration of order and to impose justice. As a profession,
policing affords one the opportunity to act with little supervision from
others, yielding a significant amount of latitude in their decision-making
process. Police work often requires officers to make split-second decisions as
part of their daily functions. When in difficult situations, it’s essential to
have a solid moral compass governed by a strong understanding of ethical
principles. Neyroud (2005 p584) states that police ethics are challenge both
individually and at an organisation level and posits that the following values
are common in Police Officers

Integrity  • Fairness • Honesty • Impartiality • Trust •
Pursuit of excellence • Loyalty Compassion • Freedom • Accountability •
Transparency • Social responsibility • Discipline

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When an officer makes a decision it
can affect life, liberty, and property, therefore with having the interests of
the public, police must maintain high standards of integrity. In law, police
are given the power to deprive citizens of their freedom by detention and arrest,
they have the right to use force in the performance of their policing function,
including lethal force in certain situations. The police are therefore given
great authority under the law, and that authority is to be employed ideally in
enforcing the law and protecting the public.

Ethical policing relies on a
comprehensive integrated and dynamic ethical framework of decision-making at
strategic, operational and tactical levels which is flexible and balanced
enough to assist in converting into real life ethical judgements. Discretion in
law enforcement, and especially within policing, is critical to both the functioning
of the police and necessary for efficiency in the criminal justice system. When
the police perform their official duties, there is a certain level of
discretion they must use. Depicted in Figure 1, The Association of Chief Police
Officers (ACPO) developed six basic legal principles in order to guide discretion
and promote police compliance particularly with human rights.