The terrorist attacks of 2011 certainly caused our government to rethink our way of life. We had become vulnerable and caught with our guard down. I am sure that even as you read this your mind can wander back to the morning of September 11, 2001 and visualize the terror that our country was experiencing after the attacks on the twin towers. We lost many heroes that day.
Our Federal and State governments worked together to create some changes that they believed would make our country safer and stronger. A month after 9/11 President Bush signed and out in to order the USA Patriot Act. This act was placed in order to enhance our domestic security measures against terrorism, increase surveillance, and tighten up our borders. With this we have given up our privacy and are expected to walk through metal detectors and bag checks in court houses, federal buildings, and at the airport. We are constantly under surveillance and Big Brother is out to catch every word that springs a red flag of a terrorist threat. The question is did these changes force us, once a free country to offer up our liberty freedoms for more security and personal safety?
The answer is yes! We may not notice the change in our every day lives as much as we should. The local police agencies still operate under the basic mission that they are to enforce and uphold the laws of the society, investigate crimes and apprehend criminals, prevent crime, provide the citizens of the community with policing services. Although it appears that the duties and the basic mission of our police agencies may have not changed, they have also increased their training and response to incidents of terrorism related emergency. Our officers are dedicated more of their time in preparing for any future attacks that we may endure from Islamic terrorist and other groups that are anti-American and threaten our freedom and safety. It is like a catch 22, our officials are out to protect our freedom and yet they ask us to give up some of our liberties and freedoms in order for them to do that.
Responding to acts of terrorism has become a top priority for all criminal justice agencies. Problems have raised and much debate has surface since the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks. It is very well supported that the intelligence that is collected among the federal agencies should be shared within local and state agencies. The debate is back and forth. In order for our agencies to protect us in great mass against threats of terrorism criminal intelligence and information must be shared and this would mean crossing lines of jurisdiction in order to prevent terrorism. “Not only terrorism prevention depends on mutual candor and cooperation among local, state, and federal agencies. So do well- designed and coordinated first responses to terrorist attacks by thoroughly trained local police, firefighters, hazardous materials experts, and hospital and other emergency personnel.” (Delattre, 2011) Agencies must network with one another and with citizens in order to collect vital information that can be of great worth to other agencies. Our police officers may receive information from a citizen that would be of value to the FBI and it works both ways.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police or better known as the IACP has established key principles that make for a more effective national homeland security. Homeland security must operate with the understanding that local officials are responsible for preventing and responding to acts of terror; prevention is just as vital as the response and recovery on a local, state, and national level; local law enforcement have the ability to identify, investigate, and apprehend suspects of terrorist acts; together all agencies must acknowledge diversity; and understand that not every terrorist act can be responded in the same manner.
Not one agency can prevent terrorism acts from occurring on American soil. We must gather our intelligence and work together on local to national levels. All across the board we must unite and respect the abilities of each individual that works to protect the citizens of this great country. Our local police work close with the community and are susceptible to receiving need to know details from citizens they encounter on a daily basis. Our local police have a better understanding of what goes on in our communities then a state or federal agent. It is imperative that we work together and share information among agencies, so that we can better protect our country.
Social stigma plays a huge part in local policing and the success of the agency. When an officer finds that he is not walking a straight line and his character is corrupt or flawed in some way, he will undergo scrutiny for his behavior. Society will become aware of his acts, media will play on it and the respect and tolerance will be affected in a negative manner. Officers that display more acceptable behavior and character are not influenced by the social stigma.
When an officer falls short and violates what is considered to be the accepted norm they become stigmatized. An example falls on the New York Police department and the Buddy Boys. In 1993 the NYPD tolerated the corruptive and dishonest behaviors of the Buddy Boys. By enabling and supporting the unlawful behaviors of these officers the “code of silence” was being honored. By enacting the code of silence the NYPD was trying to protect the careers and reputation of the officers and of the policing agency. (Delattre, 2011)
The reality is that the criminal justice system is flawed and corruption lives among the good cops. They are not easy to point of a crowd and are impeccable at blending in. Corruption lies in the line of work, the criminals, the officers that are sliding down the slippery slope, and those that have already fallen deep in the dark world of unlawfulness. Police officers must uphold their sworn oath to always uphold the law and to always do what is right and they must not allow themselves to be pulled off track and to be affected by the unethical behaviors that may be around them. Instead they must fight the temptation and they must help weed out the officers that may abuse the power of the badge.
Ethics in criminal justice is another area in which corrupt officers go back and forth. Often times there is no question, the officer is plainly corrupted. When an officer is sworn in they take a vow not only to themselves but to their country, family, community, and the agency to honor the Law of Enforcement Code of Ethics. The code defines the duty of an officer beyond the means of the gun and badge. It is a much deeper meaning with a solemn vow to always uphold the law and to serve the community and provide prevention and protection. It is also a vow to uphold the constitution and to be mindful of the rights of all Americans. Any violation to the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics is to be deemed unethical and is not tolerated. An officer that violates the code and can ultimately ruin an entire life’s career when the deception and corruption is brought to light.
An officer can develop a healthy conscience, with a strong sense of what is good or ethical and lawful behavior. A conscience is “one’s inner sense of what is right and what is wrong. (Merriam Webster, 2014) An officer’s past will certainly contribute to his conscience and his ethics. An officer that is religious and has strong ties to God may not want to act in a way that would go against his religious beliefs. In this case the religious officer would not want to participate in sexual acts outside of his marriage or solicit sex from a prostitute as it would go against God’s laws on sex outside of marriage and keeping the sanctity of sex.
During the hiring process agencies should be more aware of the applicant’s habits and history. With a good knowledge of the individual’s activities and family life we can make a determination of what the individual may be like as an officer. Although an interview does not paint an accurate picture, we are able to utilize psych analysis and background checks to help understand the applicant’s. Delattre has a similar point of view as he states, “departments should look for evidence that the candidate is a person of conscience – a person whose habits show a trustworthy sense of right and wrong and regard for the golden rule” (Delattre, 2011.) When an applicant displays an ethical and morally stable background and receives the training that is needed to perform his duties to the law he will have a great possibility of a successful career and will prove to be valuable in the sense of the law to the agency and to his community. During training it is important that all candidates learn the law and the importance of an individual’s rights as stated in the constitution. It is an officer’s right and duty to uphold the liberties and freedoms of every person and life. An effective officer is not only born with specific traits that make him a good leader and protector but he is also taught by family and his surroundings what is right and what is wrong. Morals and ethics of a good officer and an outstanding human are learned overtime and throughout one’s life. Last, training provides the officer with understanding of the law and real life scenario’s that they may run into in the field. Training is not limited to books in the classroom but also extends to the field where they will shadow and work with a unit.
As we can see that not one unit is able to provide protection to the community and to prevent terrorism. It takes all agencies working together to make this happen. It starts with the application process and it grows from there. The interviewer’s job is to help weed out any applicants that may bring corruption with them. Our agencies have a vital job and that is to provide prevention and protection from domestic and foreign threats. To do so each individual in criminal justice must be of ethical and moral sound mind.
Conscience. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster. Retrieved July 4, 2014, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conscience
Police Chief Magazine – View Article. (2009, February 1). Police Chief Magazine – View Article. Retrieved July 4, 2014, from http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display_arch&article_id=1729&issue_id=22009
Liptak, A. (2011, September 7). Civil Liberties Today. . Retrieved July 8, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/07/us/sept-11-reckoning/civil.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&
Delattre, E.J. (2011). Public corruption for profit. Character and Cops Ethics in Policing. (6th ed., ). Lanham: AEI Press.