History of Criminal Justice Ethics and Gratuities

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While at the police academy many years ago, you were trained that it
is against department policy to accept gratuities—discounts, half-priced
meals, even a free cup of coffee—on the grounds that “except for your
paycheck, there’s no such thing as an honest buck.” In practice,
however, things are less clear-cut.

For example, it is common among uniformed patrol officers and
sergeants to accept free coffee and snacks at a donut shop in one of the
high-crime areas in your city. Nearly all of the uniformed officers
accept the coffee, sodas, cookies, and doughnuts offered freely by the
store owner, and the department seems, in truth, to know but not care
that officers are accepting this free hospitality.

As deputy chief, you find yourself developing a good personal
relationship with a certain store owner. You respect his willingness to
work hard and truly appreciate his generosity in supplying you and your
colleagues with a much-needed cup of coffee, some food, and a warm
welcome on your long, sometimes tedious and lonely tours of duty.
Correspondingly, he seems genuinely happy to see you, and he appreciates
your willingness to spend your breaks at his establishment. He has been
held up at gun point twice in the past, and it makes him feel safer
with you there.

Around 3:30 a.m., while riding with one of your patrol officers, he
pulls over a car that has just gone through a red light. When the
officer approaches the vehicle, he recognizes the operator as the store
owner on his way home from a night’s work. He gets out of the vehicle
and notices you standing alongside of his vehicle. He addresses you by
name and reaches out to shake your hand. He tells you he is sorry about
the traffic light and says, “Hey, you are not going to let this young
policeman give your old buddy here a ticket for a little thing like
that, are you?”

Write 500-750 words that respond to the following questions. Use at least one reference. :

  • First, identify the ethical and legal issues presented in this scenario.
    • When did criminal justice professionals begin to seriously examine ethics and police officer misconduct? Explain.
    • How do you think this situation would have been handled 50 years ago? 25 years ago? 10 years ago? Explain.
      • What factors do you think contributed to the evolution of criminal justice ethics throughout recent history?
    • Which of these ethical and legal issues do you feel are the most important? Why?
    • What would you do in this situation? Why?
      • Remember to place yourself in the deputy chief’s shoes when determining how you would handle this situation.
    • If you were to ticket the store owner, how do you think the other officers might respond to your actions? Why?
    • How would you address their responses? Explain.


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