In the case study given, I am an officer and newly assigned to Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB). My supervisor, a lieutenant, has asked me to write up a case with information he hands me. He tells me to use the information in one specific folder. However, the other folder contains information that may implicate his brother in the crime. His brother is a major. My action would be speak to my lieutenant first about this conflicting information. Depending upon his answers, I would then break the chain of command and take the information to the lieutenant’s supervisor.
The job of IAB in a law enforcement agency is to oversee the internal conduct of its officers. This includes examining for signs of impropriety, as well as misconduct. The investigations may stem from accounts that an officer was rude to situations when an officer is working with a figure in organized crime (Office of Customs and Border Protection, n.d.).In this way, the law enforcement agency can ensure that its officers are above reproach from other agencies and the citizens they work to serve and to protect. However, in this case, it does not appear that even the IAB officers are above reproach. It may appear that one of the IAB officers is working to protect a crooked cop, who is also a relative.
As a law enforcement officer, one cannot ignore information that he has seen that may implicate a person in a crime. To do this would violate the concept of integrity. “Integrity, the most important quality a police officer can possess, is a series of concepts and beliefs that provide structure to officers ‘professional and personal ethics” (Hess, Hess Orthomann, & Cho, 2015, p. 458). There are implications for integrity in this scenario. Firstly, if I write the report as asked, I am working against my own integrity as an officer. Even if no one ever found out about the report, I have still tarnished my reputation and ethics internally. Once that happens, it can never be undone.
There are other issues as well. If I approach the supervisor, I am breaking the chain of command. There are implications associated with this. The chain of command was put in place to ensure discipline and order. Therefore, breaking the chain of command should not be taken lightly. In today’s world, it is common to hear someone say that they “will go over his head.” In military and paramilitary organizations, it is not acceptable (Strategy and Business, 2009). The supervisor may not appreciate this, which could damage my career. He may also appreciate that I am willing to do this for the department’s integrity. For this reason, I would approach my supervisor first and ask for an explanation. I would explain that I cannot write a bad report and maintain my integrity. If he did not provide me with suitable reasons, in my judgment, then I would notify him that I was taking it to his supervisor. It is difficult to say if the department would appreciate or disapprove of this action. My action would fall under a deontological theory; in short, it is a morality issue (University of Texas at Arlington, n.d.)
The implications for the community can be serious. Firstly, if there is a “dirty” cop in the community, he or she is breaking the law he or she swore to uphold. This is wrong. It undermines the very fabric of society. Furthermore, when the public finds out about police corruption, cover-ups and dirty cops, the public loses faith in the police department. They lose respect for all law-enforcement officers, even the good ones. Modern policing requires that the police department and the public community work together in a proactive method to achieve a safe community. Communities are not willing to work with “dirty” cops, even the clean ones. That this cover-up would occur in IAB would truly devastate the faith of the community. That faith might never be recovered.