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Ethics in Law Enforcement

(3 reviews)

Steve McCartney

Rick Parent, Simon Fraser University

Pub Date: 2015

Publisher: BCcampus

Language: English

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Reviewed by Andrew Kozal, Lecturer, Bowling Green State University on 2/2/18

The text starts with a foundation of ethical systems and behavior and then provides the reader specific instances of ethical behavior in law enforcement. It is comprehensive, but also at times too brief in some topic areas i.e. Chapter 3, Ethical... read more


Reviewed by George Wilson, Professor, North Carolina Central University on 2/2/18

I I really liked the way the book introduced the importance of ethnic behavior first then followed ethnic in law enforcement. This set a framework to talk about the theory and philsophy of ethnic in the following chapter. I would add so... read more


Reviewed by William Lopez, Assistant Probessor, L.E. Fletcher Technical Community College on 6/21/17

The text is comprehensive yet concise. It covers all pertinent aspects of criminal justice ethics. The text covers a wide range of ethical systems. Various ethical concepts are applied to the three core components of the criminal justice system. read more


Table of Contents

About the Book
Chapter 1: Ethical Behaviour

  • 1.1 The Importance of Ethical Behaviour
  • 1.2 Ethics and the Pursuit of a Law Enforcement Career
  • 1.3 As Employees in Law Enforcement Agencies
  • References
  • Glossary

Chapter 2: Ethical Systems

  • 2.1 Major Ethical Systems
  • 2.2 Utilitarian Ethics
  • 2.3 Deontology
  • 2.4 Virtue Ethics
  • 2.5 Ethics of Care
  • 2.6 Egoism
  • 2.7 Religion or Divine Command Theory
  • 2.8 Natural Law
  • 2.9 Social Contract Theory
  • 2.10 Rawls' Theory of Justice
  • 2.11 Moral Relativism
  • References
  • Glossary

Chapter 3: Ethical Dilemmas and the Process of Effective Resolution

  • 3.1 Ethical Dilemmas
  • 3.2 Values
  • 3.3 Solving Ethical Dilemmas
  • References

Chapter 4: Key Ethical Issues within Law Enforcement

  • 4.1 Ethical Issues
  • 4.2 The Ethics of Power and Authority
  • 4.3 The Milgram Experiment
  • 4.4 Person, Gender, and Cultural Differences in Conformity
  • 4.5 Ethical Issues during an Investigation
  • 4.6 Gratuities
  • References
  • Glossary

Chapter 5: Accountability and Investigation

  • 5.1 Autonomy and Accountability
  • 5.2 British Columbia's Police Act
  • 5.3 The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act
  • 5.4 Investigation Models
  • 5.5 Independent Investigations Office
  • References

Chapter 6: Policing

  • 6.1 Noble Cause Corruption
  • 6.2 Policing Public Demonstrations and Crowd Control
  • 6.3 Sex Offender Notification Laws
  • 6.4 Ethics of Private Policing
  • References
  • Glossary

Chapter 7: Discretion, Supervision, and Leadership

  • 7.1 The Ethics Surrounding Discretion
  • 7.2 Discretion and Supervision
  • 7.3 Selective Enforcement
  • 7.4 Loyalty
  • 7.5 Ethical Leadership
  • 7.6 Transactional and Transformational Leadership
  • References
  • Glossary

Chapter 8: The Culture of Law Enforcement

  • 8.1 Police Subculture
  • 8.2 Socialization of Police
  • 8.3 Skepticism and Cynicism
  • 8.4 Moral Culpability versus Legal Culpability
  • References
  • Glossary

Appendix. The British Columbia Police Code of Ethics
About the Authors

About the Book

In this book, you will examine the moral and ethical issues that exist within law enforcement. This book will also familiarize you with the basic history, principles, and theories of ethics. These concepts will then be applied to the major components of the criminal justice system: policing, the courts, and corrections. Discussion will focus on personal values, individual responsibility, decision making, discretion, and the structure of accountability. Specific topics covered will include core values, codes of conduct, ethical dilemmas, organizational consequences, liability, and the importance of critical thinking. By the end of this book, you will be able to distinguish and critically debate contemporary ethical issues in law enforcement.

About the Contributors


Steve McCartney, MSc, retired from the Vancouver Police Department after 28 years of service. While with the V.P.D. he served in a variety of capacities including patrol, Detective Constable with Strike Force, Sexual Offence Squad, the Provincial Unsolved Homicide Unit and VPD Homicide Unit. After leaving the V.P.D., he was seconded to the B.C. Police Academy at the Justice Institute of British Columbia as an instructor in Investigation and Patrol. Upon retiring from the V.P.D. he became the Program Chair of Law Enforcement Studies at the Justice Institute of British Columbia, where he currently teaches Applied Ethics in Law Enforcement and Law Enforcement Communication Skills.

Rick Parent, PhD, is an Associate Professor at Simon Fraser University, School of Criminology – Police Studies.   Rick completed 30 years of service as a police officer and is a former police recruit instructor at the B.C. Police Academy. His research and expertise is in the area of police ethics and accountability and, the police use of lethal force including the phenomena of “suicide by cop”. Dr. Parent is also the subject matter expert/author of the Canadian Police Knowledge Network course entitled “Police Ethics and Accountability”, the co-author of the book entitled “Community-Based Strategic Policing in Canada, 4th edition and, a senior researcher for the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS).