The purpose of this discussion is for students to apply the concepts of ethics and ethical decision making to the actions of law enforcement officials. Through this discussion, students will identify how ethical theories relate to law enforcement scenarios to explain ethical decision making, identify how ethical concepts relate to ethical issues in law enforcement, and identify the impact of ethical decisions in law enforcement. Additionally, students will identify the importance of ethics in law enforcement, identify methods used to address ethical misconduct in law enforcement, and relate the process of making ethical decisions to ethical scenarios in law enforcement.
For this discussion, read the pertinent Module readings, research laws and guidelines associated with custodial interrogations, and research typical police practices. Consider the following situation:
You are a homicide investigator and are interrogating someone you believe picked up two 9-year-old girls in a shopping mall. One girl was found molested and murdered while another is still missing. The suspect is a registered sex offender, was in the area, and, although he does not have any violence in his record, you believe he must have done it because there is no other suspect who had the means, opportunity, and motive. You have some circumstantial evidence (he was seen in a video following the girls), but very little good physical evidence. You really need information on the whereabouts of the missing child, as well as a confession to make the case, but after several hours of interrogation, you are getting nowhere. You contemplate other potential interrogation methods, such as deception or force, to obtain information from the suspect.
Create an initial discussion post addressing the questions below:
What is the ethical dilemma here? (Be sure to review the definition of an ethical dilemma before answering this question.)
Identify and briefly discuss ONE law or guideline that you read about and research on custodial interrogations that would apply to this situation. Be thorough in your reading/research.
According to the laws and guidelines that you read about and researched on custodial interrogations, how should you, as the investigator, act in this situation?
As the homicide investigator, how will you act? What will your decision process look like?
Based upon what you learned, consider the effectiveness of your actions, as well as the reliability of any information obtained and potential mechanisms (policies, police equipment, etc.) in place to control your actions.
What are the possible ramifications (ethical and legal) of your selected actions? If made public (aka the “front page test”), how do you think society would view your actions? Why?
Consider the type(s) of law enforcement misconduct related to this scenario. Identify one method that could be used to address a type of misconduct associated with this scenario.
Consider what you learned about justice earlier in this course. Why is it important to ensure ethical misconduct in law enforcement is addressed?