Ethical Defensibility: Should an Officer’s “Willingness to Deceive” Result in Automatic Certification Revocation?

Lying, deception, and the omission of truth (when duty dictates), all fall under a “willingness to deceive” in police character policies. A character policy specifically addresses the ethical challenges demanded of all public servants regarding the mandatory need for and relationship between truth-telling, duty-bound honor, and justice. This is not about perjured written or spoken words; they clearly are illegal and unconstitutional. Rather it is about the philosophical tenets of the profession that are necessary to instill and reinforce the honor, pride, and higher standards that are the foundations of policing. Protecting the integrity and image of the profession involves educating officers at all levels of an agency to prioritize truth telling, without exception. It is a critical part of the job description.

The concept of Ethical Defensibility provides all sworn personnel with the philosophical tools and analytical skills necessary to weigh value-based alternatives, resulting in the repetitive acts needed to protect, preserve, and defend the integrity of the police profession.