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Analyzing Criminal Justice Ethics

Scenario: You have a deputy chief on your department who is a 27-year veteran, regarded by his peers as intelligent and by the press as affable. To his subordinates, he is a no-nonsense boss, quick to hold officers accountable when they do not produce results. As a high-ranking official in the department, he has the current and former police chiefs on his list of admirers. He has received a total of four commendations, including one in 2009 for exceptional investigative ability. He was one of the 3 finalists for the chief's position.

At about 6 p.m. on June 14, the deputy chief finished his shift at police headquarters. He was headed for one of the local popular bars in town, which is frequented by other members of the department. That night, he partied with coworkers. According to the Internal Affairs Division (IAD) report, the deputy chief consumed between 64 and 80 ounces of alcohol. At about 11 p.m., he left the bar, forgetting a briefcase containing his .38 pistol, cell phone, and homicide unit case files. He got behind the wheel of his city-issued police vehicle and took off for his home.

That night, an eyewitness filed a police report stating that she heard a loud noise outside her apartment. She heard the noise shortly after 11 p.m. A police department report related that a 1992 blue sedan was struck at that location, not far from the bar the captain just left. It was later believed that the front-end damage was caused by the deputy chief's vehicle. Once the deputy chief determined that it was safe to do so, he left the scene of the accident. There was significant damage to his vehicle as a result of the accident.

One of your officers observed the auto, a signature unmarked police pool car, proceeding north on one of the local streets. She activated her lights and siren and notified the department that she stopped the vehicle. Then, the dispatcher made the customary request for an officer to back her up during the vehicle investigation.

According to the officer's report, with backup en route, she approached the car. The occupant identified himself with a small, round, silver and gold badge: the badge of a police captain. By this time, her backup arrived. Like her, he was a rookie with less than a year on the job. The deputy chief was already out of the car, wobbling about and slurring his speech. He was visibly intoxicated. The officer understood the gravity of the situation, and as trained to do, she radioed for a supervisor. Her shift lieutenant arrived shortly after the initial stop.

After a lengthy private conversation with the chief, the lieutenant ordered her to place the damaged car on the sidewalk against a pillar. The lieutenant then radioed in an auto accident involving a fixed object with no injuries. This gave the appearance that an oncoming car had invaded the chief's own path. The lieutenant ordered the officer to write the report reflecting this scenario. Because a city vehicle was involved, the department's Accident Investigation Division (AID) had to be dispatched. Once they arrived, the lieutenant spoke for the chief, telling them the story exactly as he devised. After AID released the scene, the lieutenant drove the chief back to the bar to retrieve his forgotten briefcase. However, some time earlier a bartender had flagged down officers in a patrol wagon who had transported it with its contents back to police headquarters. The lieutenant then ordered the officer to drive the chief home. No blood alcohol test was administered.

You are notified by one of the lieutenants that the deputy chief had been involved in an accident and that it appeared like the incident might be covered up by other officers within the department. You are mindful of the fact that the deputy chief was a finalist for the chief's position, and that his wife is an assistant to the city manager.

Questions:
- How does the organizational culture impact personnel decisions? Use examples to support your argument.
- What are your options with regard to the above case? Explain.
- What are the potential consequences of the choices you can make? Explain.
- Explain, in detail, the moral and ethical considerations that need to be evaluated for any decision you make.
- What strategies can criminal justice organizations employ to reduce any misconduct of its officers?
- Describe 2-3 potential strategies and the reasoning behind why they are currently considered effective.
- The blue wall of silence is a term often used when officers turn a blind eye to other officers engaged in some type of misconduct, ether on or off duty. Whistle-blowing is also a term used when reporting officer misconduct. Describe how these terms would apply in the scenario and what legal safeguards would be afforded to you.

Solution Preview

How does the organizational culture impact personnel decisions? Use examples to support your argument.

Organizational culture heavily impacts personnel decisions in this incident. If the organizational culture entails the use of leniency for officials who break rules as well as employing in the "blue wall" of science, then the department has an organizational culture that is representative of lax enforcement of ethics and rules. Therefore, in this type of culture it is permissible for officers, administrators, and chiefs or deputy chiefs to engage in illegal behavior that is indicative of this case. Police departments have the autonomy to regulate their cultures of behavior by strictly enforcing rules and regulations that prevent against violations, and enforce penalties for those who violate the rules. If a department chooses to engage in lax enforcement of these rules, then a culture of impunity begins to emerge wherein officers believe they can do anything they wish or get away with violations. In this case, the deputy chief probably rose through the ranks wherein as a rank and file officer he was able to engage in minor discretion's such as accepting graft and gifts from convenience stores to remain at their businesses at the chagrin of others. Once he rose through the ranks he probably allowed his underlings to receive leniency for their indiscretions such as allegations of abuse of suspects or other infractions that should have resulted in reprimands.

The impetus for this summary is that a culture of noncompliance with the rules, results in the highest and lowest officials of the department engaging in varying amounts of unethical and illegal behavior. ...

Solution Summary

The solution assists with analyzing criminal justice ethics.

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