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Defining the Building Blocks of Ethics

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 53 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2005 Pages: 65-68
Andrew Borrello
Date Published
January 2005
This article defines the following building blocks of police ethics: integrity, honesty, values, morals, principles, standards, courage, and civility.
Integrity involves a firm and unwavering commitment to maintain ethical principles and standards in the face of time and temptation. Honesty involves communication that is truthful and the pursuit of policies and practices that promote truthfulness. Values mean having a body of beliefs about what has priority in defining attitudes and behaviors. Morals involve personal rules for behavior that are consistent with one's values. Police officers who are moral follow the unwritten rules associated with their values, as well as the written rules. Principles are similar to morals, but are more detailed in delineating a plan of action in putting values and morals into practice. Standards are set for officers by a professional authority that has analyzed and determined what behaviors and attitudes by officers best serve the mission and goals of policing. They pertain to ethical behaviors for police officers within the context of performing professional duties. Courage involves a commitment to adhere to the core of personal and professional ethics in the face of great pressure to depart from that commitment. Finally, civility involves treating other individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic status, with courtesy and respect.