Criminal Justice Ethics Essay

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1250-1500 words

You and your partner are detectives working in plain clothes. For
several days, you have been staking out an elementary school playground
where an adult male reportedly has been approaching the children. One
particular morning, you have observed a man in his car parked alongside
the school yard. When he calls a little girl over to his car and she
approaches him on the driver’s side, you exit from your unmarked vehicle
and approach his vehicle from the passenger side so that he cannot see
you easily in his rear view mirror. When you get just behind his car on
the passenger side, you observe that he has his pants open. With his
left hand, he is stroking the girl’s hair.

You call for your partner over the radio and move to arrest the
suspect. Showing him your badge, you order him to close his pants and
get out of his car. You handcuff him and place him in the back of your
unmarked vehicle, while your partner returns the girl to the safekeeping
of school administrators.

After telling the suspect of his right to remain silent, you begin
interrogating him, recording his name, address, and so forth while
awaiting your partner’s return.

When your partner comes back, he gets in the rear of your vehicle
with the suspect (a violation of department regulations, unless there is
reason to believe that the passenger is suicidal). You remind your
partner that riding in the back is a violation of the rules, but he
stays there anyway; tells you to drive to the station; and turning to
the suspect, calls him a “maggot.” As you drive, your partner starts
punching the suspect repeatedly in the face and the crotch. He even
leans back and, bracing himself against the car door, kicks the suspect
in the chest and shoulders with the heel of his shoe. When the suspect
turns to avoid the blows, your partner kicks him in the back and kidney
areas. Throughout this beating, the suspect offers no resistance of any
kind. You hear the sounds of the beating and, looking in the rear view
mirror, you see your partner striking the suspect. After about a minute,
you pull the vehicle over, open the rear door and persuade your partner
to get out of the back seat and come sit beside you in the front.

After the suspect is booked and in a holding cell, your partner tells
you he will write a report that includes the assertion that the child
molester forcefully resisted arrest and sustained injuries during the
scuffle to handcuff him. He tells you that he will write the report and
sign it, and that you do not have to be associated with its contents.

At his trial, the offender pleads guilty to child molestation charges
and is sentenced to 3 years in prison, to be served at a treatment
center for sexual offenders. Soon afterwards, your partner is sued by
the offender for physical abuse and injury. Claiming kidney damage, loss
of two teeth, civil rights violations, and psychological trauma, the
convicted molester is asking a civil (not a criminal) court for an award
of $2 million from your department and $500,000 from your partner. You
receive a subpoena from the court to appear at the trial. In addition,
the Internal Affairs Division will launch its own investigation of the
allegations, and it informs you that you will be called in to make a
statement under oath at a hearing about the events. If the department
finds sufficient grounds to believe that your partner acted brutally, he
will be suspended, or more likely, fired; if the civil jury finds that
he was abusive, he may be forced to sell his home and car to pay the
award to the victim. You may also be disciplined for failure to protect
your prisoner. Comments in the locker room by other officers make it
clear that, given the nature of the victim, they expect you to do
whatever is necessary to protect your partner from being held
accountable, as well as to protect yourself.

Assignment Guidelines

  • What are your options with regard to the above scenario?
    • List each option, and provide a brief explanation of the benefits and consequences for selecting that option.
  • How would you apply the following factors to the scenario?
    • Intentions
    • Seemliness
    • Proportionality
    • Minimization
    • Practicability
  • Research the standard of objectivity.
    • How does the standard of objectivity apply, especially as it relates to personal feelings?
  • How would you respond under these circumstances?
    • Outline your decision-making process using ethical decision-making guidelines.
    • Be sure to address the counterpoints to your arguments and why you decided against them.
  • Be sure to reference all sources using APA style.

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