Ethics are moral
principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity. Leaders
are a main source of ethical guidance for their employees. Leadership is often
considered to be both an ethical principle and a way of creating ethical
behavior that is sustained. The Committee on Standards in Public Life in its
Seven Principles of Public Life (2007), views leaderships as the fulcrum for
which all the other principles turn to.  Followers will look to a leader to take
responsibility when things go right and wrong. A leader who leads with a high
ethical standard, are role models that share and express the importance of
ethical standards, and hold their employees accountable to those standards.
Leadership may be the most important step in an ethical system that is made to
support ethical conduct.  A great leader
leads the example in ethics and generate a high level of commitment from

            The way a leader is perceived by his followers, both on a
level of ethics and integrity, are what gives their ideas and visions
legitimacy and credibility. What exactly are leaders leading in when it comes
to morality and ethics? The study of ethics is relatively new area that leaves
itself open to a large range of interpretation (Osifo, 2016). A
consequentialist leader will look at the moral value of the outcomes of their
actions and deontologists will focus more on the motivation behind the action.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

            The police are considered to be the face of the criminal
justice system. Citizens are most likely to come into contact with a police
officer before any one else. A police officer has the power, authority, and the
ability to restrict a persons freedom of movement and use force when necessary.
Along with this authority, society expects every action a police officer makes to
be beyond discredit. When misconduct occurs, trust in the police is eroded and
so is the perception of police departments as a legitimate entity. Police
misconduct has been studied for ages and has found that there are many factors
including age, education level, sex, length of service, prior employment
issues, officer perception of misconduct seriousness, and police culture and
the code of silence (Donnor, 2016). The social control theory examines aspects
that could lead to police misconduct. Hirschi (1969) argues that people will
conform to the norms of society and laws because of the strong social bonds
they have developed. To build upon this, attachment in relationships plays a
big role. When someone cares about the opinion of another person they are less
likely to engage in criminal activity. Commitment is how invested someone is in
a pro-social lifestyle and can be considered ones willingness to maintain the stakes
they have within society. This theory encompasses the commitment to pro-social institutions,
such as education and employment. Those with weak bonds in this area are more likely
to partake in delinquent acts. This theory was mostly studies using juveniles, however,
it has been further studied with adults. The social control theory has been looked
at with occupational misconduct. In theory, the involvement in a pro-social activity
should keep someone from partaking in misconduct. However, it does not, there are
employees everywhere who partake in many forms of misconduct while on the job (Donnor,

            Misconduct in police departments usually comes from an
ethical failure. There is an idea that an adult cannot be taught to be ethical,
and that ethics training does not work, so police departments are left with the
problem of hiring only those who are ethically pure before hiring and hoping
they never change. However, there are many examples of those who began ethical
and ended up being criminals. Every year, the Department of Defense gives an
annual update of the Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure with examples of federal
employees who became criminals (Caldwell et al.,
2008). The question at hand now is, could ethics training have prevented
some of them from becoming criminals? The next question that comes up is, can
police be trained in ethics or should they be taught about ethics instead (Caldwell et al., 2008).

            The year 2008 saw the global financial crisis and brought
about a concept of ethical leadership into the global spotlight. Years later,
researches still ask the question: has the world really recovered from the
physical and psychological devastation left behind by only a few individuals
within the banking and investment world (Osifo, 2016). The global financial
crisis, was only one of a growing number of unethical leadership activities in
the “political, industrial, religious, public safety, media, and education
spheres” (Normore, 2014).

            Unethical leadership, such as misconduct, really has no
boundaries. However, the responsibility of leadership is a double edged sword. Normore
(2014) states that leadership is a double-edged sword because it not only
provides the opportunity for doing good, but also easily gives the opportunity
and temptation for advancing ones own needs. This often happens at the expense
and needs of others. Therefore, it is now understandable why the more
contemporary definitions of leadership include the responsibility of achieving
an outcome that meets the needs of all. According to Branson (2014), “the
desire for ethical leadership foes not translate necessarily into actually
having ethical leadership”. It is also noted, that character development plays
an extremely vital role in a leader’s life.

            In today’s media, every action done by a police officer
is scrutinized, whether they were in the right or not. As a result of this,
public trust in police organizations is at an all time low. Communities are
looking for police leaders that are “deep, innate, and instinctive so that they
will not lose direction in the face of uncertainty or external pressures” (Normore,
2014). It is expected, now more than ever, that our law enforcement leaders and
those under their command, will act in a rightly manner. Restoring social trust
within communities is extremely important for police leaders, this will prove
that they can act ethically and make sound judgment calls while being
accountable to the communities they serve. As a positive result of this need,
there are now more agencies that are providing opportunities for officers to
receive development and growth in the area of ethics and character development.
Law enforcement officers have to show that they are competent in their basic
policing such as their knowledge, abilities, tactics, planning, and strategic
thinking. However, a huge issue lies in that most police agencies, training has
been competency based that is geared toward knowledge and skill sets rather
than on character (Normore, 2014). Many times, officers are not terminated from
their jobs for lack of competencies such as not qualifying at the range or
passing a course. Rather they are terminated more often for ethical and moral
incidents, such as lying, falsifying a report, or excessive use of force (Normore,
2014). There is a need for consistent role modeling along with ongoing
self-reflection and education in ethics, morals, values, and virtues, as an
authentic combination for personal and professional success (Normore, 2014).

            Integrity, truth, fairness, dignity, respect, service,
humility, and love are all character driven leadership antithesis of
misconduct. These are basic guidelines for human conduct. In todays world of
law enforcement, leadership has to be about more than just a title of position.
The theory is that every officer is a leader, therefore, every officer should
contribute to their organizations culture. This way they can help establish a
positive image of their agency to the community. In order for this to happen,
police leaders have to maintain a focus on developing the fundamental integrity
and values that will make their officers want to follow them. If a police
leader possesses these qualities, then ideally the police officers would follow
in the same manner. Thankfully, in the last few years police agencies have
identified the need for developing and growing ethical personnel. There is
still the debate of whether adults can be trained to be ethical, however few
would argue against the development and the growth of ethical leaders (Normore,
2014). It can be argued, that ethics can be taught as part of the training
curriculum, but it is still questioned whether or not people can be trained in

            A study was done in a large bank under a court order to
improve ethics Warren, Gaspar, and Laufer (2014) set out to answer whether
ethics training was worth doing at all. They called one method, that was found
to be effective, comprehensive ethics training (CET). The CET consisted of
value-orientation, which means, giving the students explanations of ethical
values and working through problems to show how those values align with ethics.
This teaches them how to make ethical decisions even without clear written
rules. The CET also involves compliance orientation, meaning it shows the
students what the rules are and shows them the consequences if they do not
comply with them. It has been shown that both these orientations must be given
together, they do not work on their own. The best delivery method for this was
also found to be face-to-face, in small groups, and with interactive styles
such as a role plays, simulations, film, and field experiences. It was also found
that, computer based training was not a useful tool, because it lacks the
advantages of the interactive CET. It was found that unethical behavior was
lower after than before the training. It was also found that there were more
reports of unethical behavior by employees after the training. It is very
important to combine the right material and the right delivery method
significantly improved ethical conduct in the organization (Normore, 2014)

            Every single day law enforcement of all levels are faced
with the demand to respond effectively and appropriately to escalating roles
and responsibilities. Law enforcement agencies are in urgent need for leaders
that are able to inspire people and help shape their followers ethically and
morally. According to Mayer, Kuenzi, & Greenbaum (2010) leaders at the
highest level who exhibit ethical leadership influence their lower-level
managers to do the same. They also discuss that ethical decision making is not
just determining whether a law or regulation permits you to do something.
Leaders must consider the appearance of their actions, or how their actions are
perceived. They must consider whether they set the right example for their own
peers and their subordinates, and how they portray the agency to the public.
This concept is extremely important for supervisors and managers who are
expected to lead by example, and must create an ethical culture in the
workplace. If the public does not trust all law enforcement, then the entire
justice system is compromised. Current law enforcement leaders have a
responsibility to provide leadership training and ongoing development in ethics
and to create ethical leaders. Ethical leaders with an organization with poor
subordinate behavior, should look at their own ethics (Normore, 2014)