Corruption of Florida Police Officers
Human life is full of ethical dilemmas that appear in merely all environments of our activities. Ethics refers to standards of behavior that the society uses to rate one’s action as good or bad in the context of the moral values of that particular society (MacVean & Neyroud, 2012). Corruption may refer to any form of evil and unjustified behavior that defies a society’s moral codes of conduct. In the context of a police department, corruption may involve a police officer receiving payment or property that can influence him/her to subvert justice. This paper intends to discuss the ethical issues arising from corruption incidences and allegations against police officers in Opa-Locka and Miami, Florida.
In the law enforcement departments a clear understanding of the ethics is very critical since this agency should set high standards of good moral values in the society. Therefore, police administration and the Attorney General should ensure that officers adhere to police code of conduct so as to avoid development of mistrust from the public (MacVean & Neyroud, 2012). Ethical values that should guide police officers include honesty, fairness, loyalty, kindness, integrity, courage, compassion, selflessness, respect, obedience and discipline among others.
Allegations of police misconduct have risen over the past few decades. Reports in the Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission showed that the police officers are no longer conscious of the moral values that they swore to adhere to in the course of their duty. The relevance of moral values in the police force is thus fading gradually (Strouse & Karantsalis, 2011). For example, in Opa- Locka and Miami, there have been many allegations regarding ethical and moral conduct of police officers. Such complaints include drug related allegations, false witnessing or false testimonies, property offences where officers are involved, police involvement in sexual offences, participation in violent offences among others (Strouse & Karantsalis, 2011).
Drug Offence Related Accusations
Florida police officers face allegations of collaborating with drug peddlers to sell or assist the criminals in selling their drugs without facing legal sanctions. Others face accusations of being in possession of illegal drugs. Drug test results of some officers have also proven positive. These have proven that some of the allegations against the police officers could be true (Strouse & Karantsalis, 2011). The Miami City Times and city manager, Clarance Patterson, confirmed in their reports that police officers used patrol cars to transport illegal drugs and liquors to various market destinations in Miami (Strouse & Karantsalis, 2011). Such accusations of misconduct on the part of the police officers contravene Florida police code of conduct. The complaints also erode the public confidence in the integrity and honesty of the police officers.
Other officers have been caught drunk on the streets and in clubs. An example is Aaron Francis Engler (secret service agent) who was accused of passing out drunk in public on 12th October 2012. Ex- sergeant German Bosque, who was officially fired on 3rd October 2012, was accused of having many drug charges and accusations against him. The cops in Opa-Locka and Miami in Florda are now suspected to be in possession of narcotics, heroine and liquor. Cynthia D. Oliver, a police officer, was arrested and charged for obtaining cocaine from drug peddlers and selling it in the country (MacVean & Neyroud, 2012). These examples indicate just how the police officers break the oath of duty they took during their recruitment, training and deployment. Instead of assisting the government in ending drug deal, they are promoting drug business in the country. Integrity and discipline as moral values governing police service have thus lost relevance among Florida police officers.
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False Witnessing and False Statement
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has received many allegations over the false statement and witnessing by Florida police officers. The white cops are in the forefront of giving false testimonies against black suspects. This has led to arrests and wrongful conviction of many innocent suspects (MacVean & Neyroud, 2012). This shows how police officers are unfair in the way they carry out their duty. Some of the police officers have gone to the extent of hiding court evidences and discarding incriminating reports. For example, in February 7th 2008, narcotics evidences were missing in Bosque’s (a police officer) two cases, only to be found in his patrol car days later (MacVean & Neyroud, 2012).Such incidences raise several ethical questions relating to the honesty, kindness, fairness and commitment of police officers to serve with diligence and integrity as enshrined in their code of moral conduct.
The ex-sergeant Bosque is not alone in cases involving a police officer concealing evidence or producing false witnesses in court. In September 2012, Devin J. Williams, a former Miami-Dade, was arrested over allegations of interfering in and influencing witnesses in his brother’s murder trial. The witnesses have allegedly accused William of threatening and intimidating them (MacVean & Neyroud, 2012). This has increased the cases of police officers misconduct in Florida. In turn, it has shaken the public faith in the entire Florida Police force.
Property Offences Allegations
Police officers have been accused of buying, selling or handling stolen property (MacVean & Neyroud, 2012). Reports by FBI show that most of the Miami police officers are in possession of property they obtained illegally from the suspects or through forceful harassment (Nordheimer, 1986). Such unethical misconducts have negative effect on the public image and perception of the police department. Besides, the public are already losing their confidence and trust in the police. This might build soar relationships between the police and the public. Such development may seriously affect the security of the whole country, considering that the police is sometimes dependent on the public for tip-offs of criminals and crime scenes.
Sexual Offences Allegations
Sexual offences committed by the Florida police officers include having sex with criminal offenders, sexual harassment, sexual battery, indecent exposure and sex on duty (MacVean & Neyroud, 2012). Reports by Miami New Times showed that most of the Opa-Locka and Miami officers have been accused of having sex on duty with the criminal offenders who were to be taken to courts to answer to their charges (Strouse & Karantsalis, 2011). They do this in order to illegally release suspects from bails. Rape cases are rampant among the cops in Florida County. Juan Senabre, a Florida police officer, was fired from job in June. He was accused by a woman who alleges that Senabre asked her to expose her bra and breasts to him (Nordheimer, 1986). This is morally incorrect. It infringes the complainant’s right to privacy and lowers her dignity and self-worth. Illegal acquittal of an accused person in exchange for sex not only reveals an officer’s sense of immorality but also promotes recidivism and impunity on the part of offenders.
Violent Offence Allegations
Police officers have been accused of excessive use of force and ruthless killing of suspects before investigations were done. Reports have shown that police officers are fond of overstretching their legal authority while effecting the arrest order from courts, when quelling the riots and protesters and also during extraction of information from an individual (MacVean & Neyroud, 2012). The excessive use of authority has caused death, psychological imbalance, mental disorder and physical pain on the part of victims. This is not ethical, considering the fact that police officers take oath to protect the lives of citizens and the constitutional provisions that one is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
There are many cases filed in the Florida law courts over excessive use of force by police officers in Miami-Dade. The public is much concerned about the police integrity and responsibility. The level of recklessness and a sense of irresponsibility on the part of police officers, especially where an officer uses excessive force that inflicts pain, suffering or even death of an innocent person, raises ethical concerns (Nordheimer, 1986). Brutal killings through gun shots at rioting groups also raise a lot of ethical questions touching on the sanctity of life and violation of human rights.
Bribery. Florida police officers often take bribes from offenders. In return, the officers ignore the offences that people commit (MacVean & Neyroud, 2012). Many cases have been filed in courts against the Miami police officers over allegation of releasing offenders after receiving money from them (MacVean & Neyroud, 2012). Internal investigations on Miami police officers showed that many cases have been dropped due to lack of enough evidences. By taking bribes in order to protect an offender from facing charges for offenses, police officers contravene the code of conduct to which they are signatories. Besides, this promotes incidences of recidivism since bribery renders offenders somehow “immune” to the deterrent punishments for offenses. This further taints the image of the police force and erodes the public trust and confidence in the police department.
Ethics and justice cannot be separated. Adherence to ethical values enhances promotion of justice and provision of effective and efficient services. Therefore there is a need to impose severe sanctions on police officers who contravene the provisions of moral conduct and instill a sense of integrity and morality on police officers. This would help to restore public confidence and trust in the entire Florida Police Department whose image is already torn into pieces by grave misconduct of police officers.
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