Blue Line

ETHICS; The Impact on leadership in policing

December 21, 2015  By Corrie Sloot

383 words – MR <<< CONFERENCE – Ethics and Leadership >>>

Ethics: The impact on leadership in policing

by Dr. R. Williams

You and two other officers find a paper bag containing $200,000 cash. Your partners take the money to the property room. You read in the paper that $50,000 was recovered. What are your alternatives? What would you do? Why?


Criminal justice and other public sector organizations set policies and procedures with the goal of fulfilling the mission of the organization, while serving and protecting the public. One of the critical parts is employing people that are trustworthy and committed, yet we can never know an individual’s complete past; the troubles they have had, their state of mind and the values and morals which guide their decision-making process.

The daily pressures and demands imposed on criminal justice professionals may cause individuals to make choices that may conflict with leadership within the organization and ethical standards and expectations that have been set by the governing body. Sometimes individuals may want to do the right thing, but will rationalize ill behavior for personal benefit or simple gratification. A sample statement such as “I have to do questionable actions to achieve my objectives” (, p. 26) is perhaps common.

Ethics is about behavior and police conduct determines the public’s perception of law enforcement. Ethical leadership is every police officer’s responsibility. Learn more about how law enforcement personnel must demonstrate a commitment to leadership and police ethics. Anyone who assumes a leadership role must practice moral values and utilize theories and practices of leadership and ethics. This practice will help individuals to better understand themselves, strengthen their leadership capabilities, influence others appropriately, and do the right thing at the right time. However, the challenging question is: What is the ‘right thing’ when we face police deviance, such as brutality, abuse of authority, sexual misconduct, theft, alcohol/drug abuse and deliberate inefficiency?

Join us for open discussion, scenarios and self-discovery exercises April 26. See you there!

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Dr. Ruthie G. Williams serves as interim faculty lecturer and adjunct professor in criminal justice, ethics and multicultural studies. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and a Masters of Science degree and Ph.D in Human Services from Capella University, Minneapolis and previously worked in juvenile justice.

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