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Police, Privacy, and the Double-Standard (From Moral Issues in Police Work, P 277-288, 1985, Fredrick A Elliston and Michael Feldberg, ed. See NCJ-99027)

NCJ Number
F A Elliston
Date Published
12 pages
Police should not be administratively punished for personal or private actions that are not illegal.
Some police administrators believe that police officers, because they are stewards of the public trust, should have their private lives scrutinized by a higher ethical or moral standard than is applied to citizens not having such a trust. Proponents of this double standard argue that police should be role models for others in all aspects of their lives. Proponents also reason that private vices and weaknesses can negatively impact officers' job performance. Police, however, are charged with enforcing the law and performing peacekeeping functions, not with being role models for particular moral principles. This is primarily the role of parents, teachers, and religious leaders. In their private lives, police officers should be law-abiding, but their professional responsibility in their private lives should not go beyond this requirement. Officers should not be reprimanded or discharged for off-duty conduct unless it is illegal or demonstrably undermines effective job performance. Sixteen notes are listed.