U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Police Ethics, Integrity, and Off-duty Behavior: Policy Issues of Officer Conduct (From Police Deviance, P 29-44, 1991, Thomas Barker, David L Carter, eds. -- See NCJ-128045)

NCJ Number
D L Carter; D W Stephens
Date Published
16 pages
Police agencies should clarify the role of administrators in situations related to the off-duty conduct of police officers by developing policy statements that make it clear that a higher standard of conduct and integrity applies to sworn police officers than to non-sworn citizens.
Previous cases related to off-duty conduct have concerned participation in racist organizations, use of controlled substances, consorting with known felons, and other actions. Civil libertarians argue against any controls over off-duty behavior, while others advocate rigid standards. However, an approach between these two extremes is appropriate. Thus, police agencies support their policy statements by a clear definition of the concept of integrity and by citations of supporting literature to show the logic of the department's position. Their written policies and procedures should also detail expectations of behavior for off-duty police officers and should specify that officers have the obligation to report any wrongdoing. These issues should also be addressed in contracts with collective bargaining units. The standards should also be selectively applied to civilian positions based on logical criteria. 20 references and 5 study questions