An examination of the differences in perceptions of the ethical climate within law enforcement agencies

by Holtzclaw, Scott C., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2011, 144 pages; 3465568


Modern law enforcement in the United States is unique in that the powers granted to the profession and the individual officers authorize them to stop, detain, search, and arrest individuals, enter homes, seize property and employ physical and deadly force when deemed necessary. The application of many of these powers is solely at the discretion of the individual officer and generally made on the spot during an incident with little or no input from supervisors or fellow officers (Domonoske, 2006, Towards an integrated theory of police management). These powers granted to law enforcement create an imperative for their members to act in an ethical manner at all times to ensure the rights and liberties of all peoples, while accomplishing the mission of protecting the public and apprehending violators. The consequences of unethical actions by members of law enforcement can be substantial, including the arrest of innocent people who may be found guilty and incarcerated. A review of the literature reveals that there has been very little research conducted into how ethical perceptions in law enforcement are developed, and differences in perceptions of the ethical climate within the agency. This study examines the differences in perceptions of the ethical climate within a Middle Atlantic State law enforcement agencies based on officers' positions and tenure in the agency, by means of a quantitative design using a self-reporting survey that examines the perceptions of the ethics of law enforcement leadership and the ethics of the agency. The sample is drawn from a population consisting of active, full-time members of law enforcement agencies. The study examines the ethical perceptions of probationary officers who have not been fully indoctrinated into the organizational culture, the experienced officers who are already immersed in the culture of the agency, the first line supervisor, and the leadership of the agency.

AdviserKathleen Henry
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsEthics; Management; Occupational psychology; Criminology; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3465568

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