In the current essay I would like to consider a police officer’s ethical dilemma, which is described in the article: “Making ethical decisions: a practical model – police personnel” by John R. Schafer. This article describes the following situation: “the rookie police officer came to the shift and noticed a smell of alcohol on his senior partner, who was behind the wheel”. On his question about the smell, senior police officer answered that he had a glass of wine during the dinner. With the aim to avoid the conflict the rookie police officer did not protest against senior colleague. As a result, during their shift, police car provoked car accident, which resulted in death of one civilian. Moreover, the traffic officer, who investigated the accident, also smelled alcohol on the senior officer’s breath, but did not report about this fact and did not make senior officer to take a breath test. Consequently, during the internal investigation, the rookie faced with ethical dilemma: tell the truth or lie to protect the senior officer. Moreover, extremely important is the fact that the rookie failed to take action when he encountered his first ethical dilemma. In other words, the rookie faced following dilemma. On the one hand, if he lies, he will gain trust and acceptance from police officers brotherhood. On the other hand, if the rookie will tell the truth, he risks alienation and the possibility of administrative sanctions, according to John R. Schafer (2002).
First of all, it should be noted that personal ethics and morality are the actual core of human behavior. It can be said that installation of our personal ethics are the guiding for our further actions. According to Lee Flamand (2011), in this context, it is important to understand two principally different systems of personal ethical behavior. It can be said that one of the systems can be named as system of full personal responsibility. It includes human personal principles and ideals and, on its basis chooses different options of human actions and thoughts. The opposite of this system – is a system of strong subordination principle. An ethical dilemma is a situation where a person has several choices of action which, under the so-called common sense, lead to undesirable moral situations. These dilemmas are mainly used to show that utilitarianism leads to undesirable situations. As a fact, the two possible solutions of the ethical dilemma may involve behavior, which is not acceptable from the standpoint of morality. Ethical conflicts may occur in following cases:
- There is a significant conflict between different interests;
- Alternative solutions can be justified equally;
- The consequences are very important for those, who are concerned.
According to Chris MacDonald (2002), there are following ethical values: “Honesty, integrity, promise-keeping, fidelity, fairness, caring for others, respect for others, responsible citizenship, pursuit for excellence and accountability”.
In our particular case, I think that the rookie police officer should declare protest after he had noticed the smell of alcohol on his partner. Without any doubts it is more complicated, but the right path. Of course, after that he will face hatred, ridicule and reproach on the part of police brotherhood and very likely will be forced to change the police department or even state of residence. However, despite all these troubles he will do his duty and oath that he gave: “To protect and to serve”. In our case, the rookie did not done his duty, because of fear of troubles with his career and relevant attitude to him. It can be said that he is indirectly responsible for the death of a civil person, but what is done – is done. In my opinion, during this investigation, the rookie should stop covering his colleague and tell how it happened actually. In other words, he should take full responsibility for his actions with the aim for the crime not to be left unpunished.
In my opinion, ethical dilemma is always a compromise with yourself. On the one hand, there are honor and conscience. On the other hand, there are people’s interests and benefits. I am convinced that people should behave themselves towards others, as well as they want people to behave towards them. I think that that a person should decide for himself what is more important to him – long-term image and honor or short-term benefit. It can be said that this choice distinguishes a man from a human.
To sum it up I would like to say that ethics – is the humanity, honesty, respect, goodwill, fairness and trust. In our daily work and activity people at any level will inevitably face the need to make ethical decisions and each time it depends on us how to behave in a particular situation. Every person should decide for himself what is more important to him – long-term image and honor or short-term benefit. However, nobody abolished the concepts of honesty, integrity, promise-keeping, fidelity, fairness, caring for others, respect for others, responsible citizenship, pursuit for excellence and accountability.
Chris MacDonald (2002). Moral Decision Making – An Analysis. Retrieved July 7, 2011 from http://www.ethicsweb.ca/guide/moral-decision.html
John R. Schafer (2002). Making ethical decisions: a practical model – police personnel. Retrieved July 7, 2011 from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2194/is_5_71/ai_86876519/
Lee Flamand (2011). What Is an Ethical Dilemma? Retrieved July 7, 2011 from http://www.ehow.com/about_5481837_ethical-dilemma_.html