The police department in the United States is tasked with the role of enforcing law and order and ensuring that the society is safe for the citizens of the state. This is a rather complex task which in some instances may interfere with the rights of other people as well as endanger the lives of the officers who are involved in law enforcement exercises. The noble cause corruption refers to an approach by law enforcement officers which is more focused on the end result and not the action taken. This mainly occurs when such officers face an ethical dilemma whereby they have to choose whether to act ethically or to use unethical means to achieve what they perceive as good for the society (Caldero, 2015). Sometimes the officers violate the legal procedures required in handling crime suspects to attain the result that is expected by their seniors and the society at large. Noble cause corruption is mainly a policy that tends to adhere to the teleological ethical system which suggests that the officers have the right to use illegal and unethical means to attain the required results which are considered to be of benefit to the society at large (Miller, 2016). This paper aims at analyzing three cases of noble cause corruption carried out by law enforcement officers and explaining the ethics behind the actions. Notably, noble cause corruption is unethical as it breaks the law and violates fundamental rights of the people involved.
The noble cause corruption is quite different from the traditional forms of corruption which are known to be committed for selfish benefits, as it occurs when a person is confident of their righteous intention and defies all odds to achieve it. The decision taken after ethical dilemma that faces law enforcement officers plays a significant role as it plays the role of restraining, reshaping and reforming people in the society both the lawful and lawless. In this way, each officer impacts the lives of every member of the nation (Miller, 2016).
The first case presented in the videos is that of the controversial frisking of people of color in the streets of the United States. The police have a right according to the law to carry out the frisking if they are suspicious that a person might be about to commit a crime. However, it does not give them the right to stop every black person and frisk them for no good reason. According to the video, the police are quite violent on the black men who are stopped while their white counterparts go undisturbed. Secondly, the police stop too many people of color and frisk them despite them having not done anything that warranted such kind of treatment (Miller, 2016). Though it is generally believed that people of color are likely to engage in crimes in the United States, that does not give the police authority to stop and violently frisk every black person that they encounter on the streets (Caldero, 2015). That is both illegal and unethical as the rights of these people are violated besides the discrimination that they are subjected to.
The second video shows a case of Washington Police Caught Speeding Past State Troopers. The police officer who happens to be driving at a speed that exceeds the speed limit is not responding to any emergency. Besides speeding, the officer seems to be irresponsibly changing lanes thus risking the lives of fellow motorists. A police officer is a citizen like any other and should respect the law at all times (Miller, 2016). The rules that are put in place should be followed accordingly and anyone breaking them regardless of their status or job should be convicted. Ideally, it is also unethical for a police officer who is expected to safeguard the law to be caught breaking it.
The last video shows a violent confrontation between a police officer and black motorist. The police officer is depicted to be using excessive force which is unwarranted for such a case as the motorist appears to pose no threat to the police officer and the general public. The officer misuses his powers to intimidate the motorist mainly due to race-based judgment. The actions of the officer do not confer with either the ethics of the job or the law. Violence should not be used when dealing with an unarmed suspect, and as a police officer, one should not engage in physical confrontation with suspects unless they defy the orders issued.
An analysis of the pattern of the conduct of police officers depicted in the videos reveals that the officers carry out the noble cause corruption in a way that is unethical and violates the law. Their conduct can cripple legal agencies and result in a constitutional crisis. The United States department of justice has continually insisted on the duty of law enforcement officers to exercise respect for the rights and dignity of every person including citizens who are suspected to be criminals. From the videos analyzed depict the abuse of power by law enforcement officers who violate the rights of the people (Caldero, 2015). The law enforcement officers tend to engage noble cause corruption in situations where they believe that they will not be held accountable for their actions to break the law and violate the ethics regarding their mode of operation. The police should, however, understand and respect the Constitution as it is the same doctrine from which their power is derived. The department leaders of the law enforcement agencies should address the issues related to noble cause corruption by expounding it to their officers and coming up with appropriate ways to curb and control it.
The analysis of the cases reveals the two perspectives of ethics which are deontological and teleological points of view. The deontological ethical system focuses on the belief that there should be reasonable grounds to support any cause of action and the action too should be undertaken with regards to the law and ethics. This ethical system does not focus on the end result but rather emphasizes on the adherence to legal policies, ethics, and respect for constitutional rights (Dijoseph, 2010). The principle insists that if the actions of a person are good, then it does not matter even if the end result is not what is desired. Similarly, if the actions are illegal and unethical, then the outcome does not matter at all. This approach is process-oriented in that it ensures that the right process is followed.
The other ethical approach advocates that end result is more important than the process through which it is achieved. The teleological ethical system tends to believe that the outcomes of any action taken are more important than the process itself. This approach does not pay attention to the ethics and legality of the process and therefore allows breaking of laws and ethical policies to achieve desired results (Caldero 2015). If the actions are not acceptable according to legal and ethical standards and the results are in accordance to what was desired, then the system will believe that you acted ethically and acceptably.
The three examples analyzed in this paper depict actions by law enforcement officers that are illegal and unethical according to the deontological approach. The actions of the officers are guided by their own perspective about the situations they are faced with, whereby in some cases they break the law and interfere with the rights of innocent citizens. The officer disregards the law and ethics and focuses on doing what they perceive as the best actions for the greater good. However, the teleological ethical system would regard the actions as ethical as it does not consider the legal issues, ethical issues and the rights of the people.
- Caldero, M. A. (2015). Police ethics: The corruption of noble cause. Place of publication not identified: Routledge.
- DiJoseph, J. (2010). Noble cause corruption, the banality of evil, and the threat to American democracy, 1950-2008. Lanham, Md: University Press of America.
- Miller, S. (2016). Corruption and Anti-Corruption in Policing—Philosophical and Ethical Issues. Cham: Springer International Publishing.