Criminal justice professionals such as police officers make decisions daily, and they have to recognize when an issue requires ethical consideration. Moreover, criminal justice procedures and actions all have a moral implication. These actions and inactions are either right or wrong depending on a person’s values and beliefs. It is crucial for a police officer to understand that every move he or she engages in has consequences and ramifications. About criminal justice, ethics are principles that govern law enforcement. Therefore, without a set of moral guidelines, criminal justice professionals such as police officers cannot meet the demands of the public accurately and appropriately.
In this respect, this research essay will reflect on my values and the core values of the criminal justice system, particularly the police officers’ departments. In doing so, the connections between my values and the core values of the criminal justice system as well as the police officer department will be explored. Additionally, my motivation to work in the criminal justice department will be discussed. Finally, my mission statement that captures who I am and how I will strive to work and live as a criminal justice professional will ensue. A brief conclusion will summarize the discussion.
Personal values are principles that each person highly regard and guides the way each person lives. Moreover, own values dictate the way a person makes decisions, which is also evident in the behavior of every person. Therefore, my values reflect who I am. My top five personal values in order of their rank are integrity, respect, service, accountability, and excellence. These values are the ones that I believe in. Nonetheless, I have other values such as kindness and dependability.
Integrity is my most important personal value because it means to live in honesty and moral uprightness. Displaying truthfulness and accuracy in each of my actions is crucial. Moreover, it is essential to be accountable for my actions and beliefs. Ethically, someone is said to possess a virtue of integrity if they display an internal consistency through their behavior and decisions.
Respect is equally important to me as integrity because it means to honor and value the dignity of others. Someone who upholds respect as a virtue treats people courteously and in fairness. Thus, I treat every person the way I would wish to be handled. Respect enables me to live peacefully with family, friends and every person I meet.
Working in my area of specification with due diligence and helping people in need is important to me. I like to help, thus, serving others either in kind or as a profession makes me feel good. I firmly believe that if many people live a life of service, there would be no gap in the professional world as well as in the communities. As the old saying goes, “alone, you can do little, but united in service, much can be accomplished.
Accountability is the diligence of taking responsibility for my actions. Accountability helps me to stay committed to my duties and activities with little chance of drawing back.
Excellence is a value that I hold high. Excellence allows me to raise the bar for personal standards. Thus, I strive to be better every day in every area of my life. Moreover, personal excellence motivates me to create solutions to challenging situations, enabling me to overcome these challenges.
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My values are ultimately dependent on my own beliefs and experience. I believe that the way I make decisions or behave consequently affect those living around me. Therefore, there is no doubt that I should conduct myself in a manner that will not put the other people at the receiving end. Additionally, in this world, we reap what we sow. Thus, if I sow good deeds, I definitely will reap good deeds in return. It is therefore for my benefit to behave morally and ethically in all my undertakings.
Through experience, I have learnt that being honest will keep me away from a lot of troubles. Additionally, there is self-fulfillment in respecting and treating each person with dignity. I have learnt that taking full responsibility for my actions enables me to behave uprightly bearing in mind the consequences of every action and decision I make. Moreover, experience has taught me that service to humanity is service to oneself.
My values are a mix of intrinsic and instrumental, intrinsic because they are inborn, and instrumental because I engage the values in pursuing a particular aim. For example, I am accountable for my actions because I am conscious of the possible consequences. Thus, instrumentally, I strive to behave uprightly to avoid adverse or adverse effects. Additionally, I find it easier to serve other people because it is an innate desire. Nonetheless, service to others is also a way of gaining more experience in what I do as well as gaining recognition of service, especially in my professional designation. Even so, my intrinsic good supersedes my instrumental good in most of the circumstances. When selecting acts of goodness, I pursue the summum bonum.
To correctly understand the idea of summum bonum, there is a need first to discuss and explain the concept of moral duty. First and foremost, there exist impartial moral values. There is a collective accord that some behaviors are morally right, and others are morally wrong. Human beings automatically understand this principle irrespective of culture, circumstance, or the time in history (O’Connell 479). For example, actions like rape and murder are morally wrong, and everybody agrees to that. If human beings doubt if an action morally is right or wrong, then it can be identified through theoretical reasoning. Human beings are knowable through reason. The reason is the underlying principle of human morality and as humans; we are indebted to advocate these values because it sins our duty. In other words, human beings should engage in virtuous acts purely from a sense of duty and not in pursuit of a specific benefit or as a way of staying out punishment for failure to do so. The only essentially good reason for acting morally is the ‘good will’, which in other words means the summum bonum.
By summun bonum (the ultimate good) is the ideal agreement of the mind with the moral law. In other words, it is one’s duty to do what is moral because it is morally right instinctively. If as human beings we seriously uphold our ethical and moral nature, we will see that is it our ultimate achievement.
Additionally, if we aspire for the summum bonum, it must and is achievable. Moreover, summum bonum brings personal fulfillment because accomplishing one’s moral duty is the right thing to do. Resolutely, even the criminal justice system utilizes the principle of summum bonum in reasoning through numerous ethical scenarios and ensuring liberal and social justices are maintained.
Liberal values are the main goals of the criminal justice system, meaning that the values reflect corporate values of freedom, democracy and they are intrinsic. Liberal values apply to law enforcement and law enactment. Additionally, the liberal values are governed by specific rules and principle, which include (1) regulations and policies of punishment, (2) rules of procedure, and (3) rules of professionalism. Notably, these principles, values, and morality of the criminal justice system derive from mixed sources. Some criminal justices are based on religion, some for the constitution and others from various theories (utility, virtue or duty) as their basis of practice. Therefore, summum bonum “the highest good” is contested. However, values of justice, such as the corrective (utilitarian and retributive) justice and distributive (libertarian and social) justice intersect the summum bonum.
In corrective justice, using the utilitarian approach, the highest good is the utility of punishment. Utilitarian remedial judgment questions the summon bonum in the sense that the duty to punish is about maximizing the average welfare across all relevant individuals. Additionally, the highest good in this case, which is to uphold justice and order in society is achievable by correcting and prohibiting injustices. Therefore, summum bonum is attainable by observing the moral duty, punishing whoever offends, and of whatever form and severity that need to meet that goal. The same case applies to retributive justice, which states that the punishment should fit the crime.
Nonetheless, retributive justice question summum bonum by emphasizing that punishment is more of payback rather than maximization of welfare. Therefore, in this case, proportionate punishment is a morally acceptable punishment for crime, irrespective of whether the punishment results in any tangible benefits. In this regard, these values underpin actions and principles in various criminal justice departments such as the police department.
I want to be part of a police department as a police officer. The primary goal of police officers is to serve the public by protecting them, as well as, detecting and eliminating criminals, which ultimately ends crime. Therefore, this department in criminal justice is guided by a set of values, including public service, integrity, transparency, impartiality, and accountability. These values apply across the board in the policing department, regardless of whether an individual is a constable, police officer, volunteer, or someone contracted to work in the police force.
These values underpinning actions in the police unit reflect the idea of summum bonum because the main agenda of a police officer is upholding the “highest good,” primacy of public over personal interests. Moreover, while fulfilling their moral duty, police officers are expected to act ethically, and in good moral character. For example, police brutality or excessive use of force is not only procedurally problematic but violates the public trust.
In the criminal justice system, either values can be subjective or objective, related to conduct, variously located or hierarchically ranked. Subjective values mean to value what is right. Therefore, this applies to the principle of summum bonum, which upholds the ultimate good. In other words, the criminal justice moral duty is to act accordingly to promote and maintain that which is the highest good morally, ethically and according to the constitutional law.
Objective values emphasize the principle of reasoning to make decisions. In other words, decisions are made independent of the situation. For example, a judge may punish a criminal for murder because it is wrong to kill irrespective of the reason why they decided to end a life. It could be that the slain person was provocative, and as a way of retaliation, this other person chose to kill him. Nonetheless, even though the reason behind the killing can be justified, objective values in the criminal justice system state that it is morally, ethically and constitutional wrong to kill.
In the criminal justice system, values relating to conduct mean that values are cognitive partners of personal rules of conduct and ethical principles. This relation to conduct implies that besides the constitutional law, criminal justice professional are sometimes propelled to reason and act according to the values that they uphold as individuals.
Lastly, hierarchically ranked values are applicable in a situation where one has to decide which principles are more appropriate in certain circumstances. Therefore, these four categories of the principles in the criminal justice system connect well with my values as an individual, and as working as a police officer. For example, integrity is one of my values, which links with the core values of the police department. Integrity connects with the subjective value of the criminal justice system because it promotes honesty and moral uprightness, which is something good.
Impartiality is another core value of the policing department that intertwines with my value of respect. These two core values connect with objective appraisals of the criminal justice system since they govern our reasoning in making decisions. This interconnection between my values, principles in the criminal justice system motivate me to work as a criminal justice professional because they provide an avenue for deciding which values to use in certain situations or ethical dilemmas.
As a police officer, when faced with a dilemma, I will apply the following rules as the most ethical justification (1) avoid intrinsic evil, (2) seek summum bonum, (3) if the highest good is not achievable, I will use the next most applicable inherent right, and (4) non intrinsic evil to prevent inherent evil. The following process is appropriate in addressing a dilemma, (1) select the most appropriate value or principle that I’d act, (2) assess how the value best fits the situation, (3) apply the value if there is no other circumstance preventing its use, and (4) in case a preventing condition pops up, I will choose an alternative value.
Hierarchical ranking of values is as important in solving dilemma situations. First and foremost, it is essential to find out what the working principle and values say about the case. Secondly, it is prudent to find out what the constitutional law says about the issue. As mentioned earlier, values in criminal justices are derived from various sources. Therefore, these sources are essential in determining what values to uphold during an ethical and moral dilemma in the criminal justice system. Nonetheless, the primary goal, irrespective of whichever value is chosen should be to promote the highest good.
As a police officer, my primary duty is service to humankind; to protect lives and property; to provide a shield of protection to the weak against intimidation, the innocent against deceit, and the peaceful against chaos. I will observe the constitutional rights of all humanity, and uphold liberty, equality, and justice in my line of service. I will dedicate my life to my fellow law enforcement officers; I will never shy away from giving my subordinates officers the guidance, advice and support they need in their line of service.
I will stay true to my goals by being the best I can be, recognizing my shortcomings and working on improving them, by never giving up and keeping my private life desecrated as an example to all citizens. I will maintain my calm in the face of a dangerous situation, strive to protect the welfare of all humanity and uphold integrity in deed and thought in both my private and official life.
I recognize my badge of office as a symbol to develop my subordinate officers to a highly motivated team that can withstand any challenging situation and strive to maintain, law, peace, and order.
Moral principles and values underlie our behavior both in our private and official life. Sometimes, our values intertwine with the values in our line of service, and sometimes they contradict. Nonetheless, regardless of the situation, our moral duty as human beings and professionals in our area of service is upholding the principle of the highest good.
The criminal justice is governed by two sets of justices, the liberal and the social justice. These two justices are contradictory. The liberal justice states that the freedom of people is dependent on merit. Social justice, on the other hand, says that democracy should be equally distributed. However, irrespective of the system, professionals are directed by values in there are of designation as well as the constitutional law, which they should uphold at all times while carrying out their professional duty.
Works Cited O’Connell, Eoin. “Kantian Moral Retributivism: Punishment, Suffering, and the Highest Good.” Southern Journal of Philosophy, vol. 52, no. 4, Dec. 2014, pp. 477–495.