Inciting Violence and Failing to Keep the PeaceThe first paragraph of the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics deals with safeguarding the community, upholding the law and looking out for the greater good of all citizens in a peaceful manner. None of these things describe the actions of the main characters. Harris and Hoyt (the rookie officer played by Ethan Hawke) violate the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics in the most blatant way by participating and influencing street violence, looking the other way on it and exploiting their duties for personal and illegal gain. Clearly a corrupt detective, Harris makes Hoyt smoke a marijuana joint laced with PCP in order to avoid being shot by him. Reluctantly, Hoyt obliged and went along with all of the other violent and corrupt activities. This is following their confiscation of money and drugs that were being sold in a park by gang members. Harris justifies his dismissal of a girl after she was being sexually assaulted as “street justice” based on this. This is blatant disregard for protecting the innocent and compromising with criminal activity. Later in the movie, further violence is perpetrated as a result of Harris’s corrupt ways.
Extortion and Falsifying Information
As a law enforcement officer, it is part of the code of ethics to treat all people fairly and without prejudice based on biased factors. Furthermore, it is just as corrupt to take bribes and gratuities as an officer of the law. Harris violates this in a most blatant way when he finds drugs and a firearm on a drug dealer. Instead of arresting and detaining him per his job duties, Harris looks the other way on this man’s illegal possessions, not even confiscating his items. He is also violating the code of ethics by doing this in exchange for information which will enable Harris to illegally enter a drug den. He does this by obtaining a false search warrant through fellow corrupt police officers. Harris is able to obtain this false search warrant by promising money to the law enforcement officials who are ranked higher than he is. When he steals the drug money from the other drug dealer’s house, the wife of the drug dealer gets a closer look at the search warrant and realizes that it is fake. This incites even more violence as she calls for assistance from nearby gang members who begin firing their weapons at the police duo as they speed off. These are all examples that have to do with compromising with criminal activity as well as inciting it. These are also direct violations to the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics by means of not committing to upholding the peace. It is later discovered that Harris owes money to a foreign criminal organization from Russia. This is made known by the same high-ranking police officers who were able to make him a false search warrant. Instead of living up to the civilly responsible extent of their duties, they simply allow Harris to cash out on a monetary account of some sort and advise him to leave town. This is another example of compromising with criminal activity within the law enforcement workforce. Instead of detaining anybody or performing any sort of legal duties, these three officers are also deliberately overlooking severe and dangerous criminal activities that are taking place, if not playing a contributing role. Later on, the two officers go back to the drug den that they were at earlier to steal millions of dollars in drug money using the same false search warrant. The owner of the drugs and the house is killed by Harris, who sets the murder up to look like it was justified. Hoyt, Harris’s trainee, is offered his share of the money and refuses, causing his trainer to blackmail him when he refuses to lie about what happened. He would have tested positive for the drugs that Harris gave him earlier, causing him to lose his position and possibly be prosecuted by law. This is an example of fabricating a case (Johnson, 2015). These reflect reckless actions that directly violate the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics in terms of not keeping the peace or abiding by the laws that are meant to be enforced.
These are just some of the most notable moments in the movie that perfectly depicted injustices among law enforcement officials. Like many officers engaged in corrupt activities are prone to doing (U.S. Government Accountability Office, 1998), Harris was engaged in a series of illegal activities that completely contradicted his civil duties as his an officer of the law as well as the code of ethics that law enforcement officers are required to adhere to. Additionally, all of the drug peddling, staged gang violence, extortion and abusing of authority involved other corrupt officials as well. While this movie was fictional, there were some elements of truth to it that apply to some modern-day law enforcement officers and how the abuse the code of ethics.
- Johnson, L. (2015, December 28). When Officers of the Court Go Wrong | Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lorenzo-johnson/when-officers-of-the-cour_b_8881262.html
- US Government Accountability Office. (1998, June 29). U.S. GAO – Law Enforcement: Information on Drug-Related Police Corruption. Retrieved from http://www.gao.gov/products/GGD-98-111