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Chapter 1 Understanding the Ethical Failures of Law Enforcement

Leadership in Education, Corrections and Law Enforcement: A Commitment to Ethics, Equity and Excellence

ISBN: 978-1-78052-184-8, eISBN: 978-1-78052-185-5

ISSN: 1479-3660

Publication date: 25 July 2011

Abstract

Law enforcement ethics training has focused traditionally on the development of moral character (see, e.g., Josephson, 2009). This approach is based on the idea that offices imbued with the proper moral values will do the right thing regardless of the circumstances or situational pressures. While good character is clearly important, there is no reliable evidence to support the theory that dispositional qualities are responsible for individual differences in moral behavior. Indeed, contrary to the tenets of virtue ethics, circumstances seem to be the most important factor influencing a person's moral conduct (Doris & Murphy, 2007; Ross & Nisbett, 1991). Any explanation aimed at better understanding the ethical failures of law enforcement must look beyond mere character-based explanations. This chapter explores the developmental, social, and psychological factors that can contribute to immoral behavior. The author concludes with a review of strategies for creating a culture of ethical behavior.

Citation

Fitch, B.D. (2011), "Chapter 1 Understanding the Ethical Failures of Law Enforcement", Normore, A.H. and Fitch, B.D. (Ed.) Leadership in Education, Corrections and Law Enforcement: A Commitment to Ethics, Equity and Excellence (Advances in Educational Administration, Vol. 12), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 3-21. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-3660(2011)0000012004

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited