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Criminal Justice Ehtics

You are a lieutenant in charge of an undercover strike force team, charged with the responsibility of apprehending fugitives from justice. Your team has been criticized by the local media for some of its members' actions in carrying out their responsibilities, such as using questionable methods that could be seen as potential violation of some individual civil rights. Your team has been very effective in carrying out its assigned duties, resulting in an 80% apprehension rate.

You have been advised by the chief that all he wants is results, not excuses. He wants you to use whatever means are necessary to apprehend fugitives because anything less would reflect badly on the department and his leadership. He reminds you that he has the firm backing of the mayor and city commission in how he runs the department.

The next day, a news reporter informs you that he is working on a story regarding the apprehension of child rapist. Information he has gathered indicates that the arresting officers on the team, under your supervision, may have used questionable methods during the apprehension, which resulted in significant injuries to the individual. He asks for you to comment on the potential violation, and you inform him that you will look into the matter and get back with him later.

Later that evening, you call a meeting of your team and advise the members of the allegations made. It is then brought to your attention that there was some force used in the apprehension that may have exceeded what was necessary. The next morning, you advise the chief of the inquiry by the media, and you tell him that based on your preliminary inquiry, there may be some validity to what the reporter told you. He reminds you of what he expects out of your team: results, not excuses.

1. What do you think are the legal issues involved in the scenario?

2. What do you think are the ethical issues involved in the scenario?

3. What are the possible consequences of not addressing these ethical issues?

4. Considering the directive given to you by your chief that he wants results and not excuses, what are some of the factors that you should take into consideration?

5. How would you respond to the follow-up questions from the reporter?

6. What will most likely result from your responses, and how will you protect yourself and your career?

7. How significant is it to you that a superior officer is implying that you should make an unethical decision?

8. How did this affect what you would say to the reporter?

Solution Preview

1. What do you think are the legal issues involved in the scenario? Explain.

The legal issues involved are protection of the Due Process rights of suspects and whether or not officers are engaging in criminal battery of suspects. If suspects are being exposed to injury or actions by officers that are result in the unnecessary use of force, then this would violate their constitutional rights and would be a crime against the law. These are the legal issues that are involved in this case, because police do not have the legal right to exert undue and unnecessary force on suspects because of some wayward attempt or morphed sense of justice. Therefore, any allegations of excessive force must be investigated by the department and officers found to have engaged in this behavior must be held accountable for their actions.

2. What do you think are the ethical issues involved in the scenario?

Many ethical issues are entailed within this scenario. It is actually a frightening prospect that those within the highest departments of the city including the mayor and city commissioner support potential violations of citizens' rights. To begin with, the suggestion that officers have impunity to arrest suspects is unethical. This notion provides officers with the ideology that they can engage in illegal or unethical behavior to obtain suspects as long as the ends-justifies-the-means. This is a form of vigilante justice that has no place within a professional police ...

Solution Summary

The solution discusses criminal justice ethics including the legal, ethical and consequences of the issues in the given scenario.