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Because personal values are unique to each individual, they're not a proper platform on which to base police ethics, though they may inform how we view, appreciate and approach ethical behavior. There are some values, though, that are essentially universally held by society.


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These societal values are those ideals that are held most dear by culture or group, and these are the values from which we derive our understanding and expectation of ethics and ethical behavior. Such ideals include integrity, honesty, hard work, kindness, compassion, empathy, sympathy, justice and bravery.

Ethics in Law Enforcement and Policing

These universal values help guide us toward ethical behavior and ethical decision making. They help inform us of what is expected of us and what actions we should take. The "right thing" is based on those values society that holds dear. Ethical principles are premised on the notion that right is always right and wrong is always wrong.

When officers fail to do what's right, and especially when they do what is clearly and blatantly wrong, they violate police ethics, erode the public trust, and further degrade law enforcement's ability to work within the community and carry out its mission. Adherence to high ethical standards is as vital to achieving the overall goal of modern policing as any other tactic, technique or practice. The importance of a high ethical standard in traditional police work is impressed upon aspiring officers from the very first days of the police academy.

The work of the ICRC

Agencies have several ways to promote police ethics among their ranks. First and foremost is the oath of office that officers take. Of course, the oath contains provisions about protecting, upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States.

Police Work

It also includes promises to conduct oneself soberly, honestly and honorably, to avoid offensive behavior, and to obey superior officers within the individual departments. Officers swear to be honest, upstanding citizens. They promise to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Above all else, they promise to follow the rules, regardless of whether they like or agree with them.

Understood within the concept of acting honorably is the idea that officers should own up to their mistakes. Far more respect is reserved for those who screw up and admit it than those who try to hide their misdeeds or blame others for their shortcomings. In fact, lying will get one fired faster than anything else when you choose a law enforcement career. The oath of office lays the groundwork for instilling ethical behavior, but it doesn't stop there. Within an agency's code of ethics are specific provisions promoting the safeguarding of lives and property, the importance of avoiding bias and the understanding that the badge is a symbol of the public trust.

They are called to be examples to the public and to demonstrate the right way to behave, rather than the entitlement mentality they are so often accused of exhibiting. For those situations that may prove difficult for officers, several tests can be applied to help in the ethical decision-making process. Perhaps the best known ethical decision-making tests are the critical thinking test, the media test, and the gut test. The critical thinking test asks a series of "yes" or "no" questions to determine whether or not an officer should proceed with an action.

These questions are asked in succession and ultimately guide an officer toward making a good choice.

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Inspector Roger Pegram.

Edited by Michael D. Reisig and Robert J. Kane

Digital Services. Current and former approved providers Information for forces. The document includes guidance on conducting investigations, using criminal intelligence, or supporting the host-State police and other law enforcement in the conduct of these roles and responsibilities.

The guidelines outline procedures for special operations and ensuring public safety, based on United Nations policing strategies that are oriented towards serving the community. As United Nations police peacekeeping differs fundamentally from domestic policing, the guidelines offer access to the approaches, concepts and principles for how United Nations police conducts operations. Reforming, restructuring and rebuilding police and other law enforcement institutions in post-conflict and fragile states goes to the core of United Nations policing, which is why the development of Guidelines on Police Capacity-Building and Development was a top priority for the Police Division.

Since , almost all new peacekeeping mission mandates have included police capacity-building and development.

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The Guidelines emphasise that police capacity-building and development is a long-term effort that must reach all levels of an institution, from individual police personnel, to groups or units of individuals within an organisation and whole institutions. For each level, the Guidelines refine the five key areas of support around which police capacity-building and development activities—including the provision of material support; training initiatives; monitoring, advising and mentoring; and the strengthening of accountability and oversight—should be based.

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They will enable the United Nations police to better design, implement, monitor and evaluate police capacity-building and development projects and programmes. In practice, the Guidelines will help police components determine which capacity-building and development activities, areas and training objectives to prioritise. UN Police contribute to sustainable peace through effective and efficient delivery on police-related mandates.


  1. Sir Robert Peel's Policing Principles | Law Enforcement Action Partnership;
  2. John Jay College - PSC.
  3. OHCHR | Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms.
  4. Citation Tools.
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  6. The "UN Police Towards Serve and Protect to Build Peace and Security" vision and multi-year strategy, adopted in defines four strategic priorities that will guide the work of the United Nations police over the next four years , as international police peacekeeping continually evolves to meet new needs. The United Nations policy on Human Rights Screening of United Nations Personnel 11 December outlines the principles and methodology by which the United Nations will pursue human rights screening of personnel.

    Planning Toolkit , intended to help field practitioners in conducting assessments and planning of DPKO-led operations. It provides guidance, templates, checklists and lists of examples of good practices to help develop a wide variety of plans — ranging from a UN-wide Integrated Strategic Framework to the mission results-based budgeting and planning. The policy also provides important information regarding the relevant civilian and other managerial structures and their relationship to the uniformed components so as to enable more effective integration of the mission effort in multidimensional peacekeeping operations.

    This document sets out the guiding principles and core objectives of UN Peacekeeping operations, as well the main factors contributing to their success in the field.