Internal affair investigations is a social control measure put in place by police departments to ensure assigned officers do not commit ethical violations or actions that result in professional misconduct. Due to the sensitive nature of these investigations, all facts presented in favor of and against the accused must be thorough and accurate. Proper training of department supervisors is critical to the discipline and performance of subordinate officers.
This paper is an analysis of the ethics of internal affairs investigations, and whether it is ethical for police personnel to investigate themselves. A case study of a well-known internal affairs investigation will be discussed, which in-turn will add practical application to the analysis of internal affairs investigation ethics. Furthermore, the ethics of this procedure will be evaluated through the lenses of deontology and utilitarian ethical approaches. This paper will conclude with how these types of investigations are handled in police agencies outside of the United States of America.
Ethics of Police Internal Affairs Investigations
Being a police officer is a very demanding profession, daily law enforcement personnel are faced with a variety of diverse situations, and each individual officer is expected to handle every interaction in the most professional manner. “Across the United States, police organizations are striving for a new professionalism. Leaders are committing themselves to stricter accountability for both effectiveness and conduct while they seek to increase legitimacy in the eyes of those they police” (Stone, 2013, p. 1). Ethical discretion must be utilized in all instances when upholding the justice of good law and orde...
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...e for the protection of many basic rights. The judiciary allows for corporal punishment for many minor crimes, fair trials are not common. Security forces are also responsible for the arbitrary arrest, detainment, beatings and torture of those in custody. Unfortunately, police officers are treated no differently than the average citizen or third country national.
The methods are criminal justice system has adapted for investigating complaints against police officers is complex and lead to highly sensitive results and reactions. Internal affairs investigations must be done in good taste and only the most trustworthy and reliable officers should be appointed to these particular divisions. An officer being accused of doing wrong does not automatically equate to being guilty, it is important to keep in mind that not every situation will end as it begins.
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