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Should Police Officers Who Lie Be Terminated as A Matter of Public Policy?

Whenever operating in a public office, it is important that one is sure to conduct all forms of business by a high ethical standard. The reason for this is that the actions that such institutions take affect the public in different ways. As a result, people started to pay more attention to the transparency and integrity of the processes in these public offices. One of the public offices that require such high standards are the institutions of the law enforcers. In the course of its work, law enforcement faces with such phenomenon as the code truthfulness that is related to Ethics. Each member of the law enforcement is under obligations to adhere to this code of integrity so as to act in accordance with the public policy and ethics, which means complete adherence to the law. What measures should be taken to the police officers who lie is a controversial topic. Spector (2008) discusses this issue in the article “Chief’s Counsel: Should Police Officers Who Lie Be Terminated as a Matter of Public Policy?” and argues that, despite some disadvantages, termination is more beneficial.

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Sometimes, certain circumstances forces law enforcers to lie. However, the decision whether to terminate or retain law enforcers who resort to untruth is tough since it can be a harsh punishment for those representatives of the public office who was once not honest for some reason. If the government introduces such drastic changes, good personnel might be lost, and it may lead to a decrease of competent employees.  Termination of dishonest police officers is simple, but it can be eventually unfair to the law enforcers involved. In fact, unfairness arises when they use lie with a good reason.  To illustrate, it relates to law enforcers who decide to go undercover to expose crimes. The act of working undercover to conduct an investigation means lying to some members of the society so as to disclose social injustices (Spector, 2008). The results of the investigation can lead to the arrest of some bad characters. Therefore, in the long run, termination of corrupt police officers although being simple can be unfair especially to the law enforcers who use lie to uncover illegal actions and arrest criminals. Consequently, such severe measures can have drastic effects on the families of these law enforcers. They may be under the impression that these officers are dishonest, which can significantly affect their family relationships. Additionally, some representatives of the law are the sole providers. If this is a case, then their families are bound to face financial difficulties since the termination will mean that they have to rely on other forms of income. Apart from the impact the dismissal of the law enforcers has on their families, the police department can also face some negative consequences. It is possible for police officers to resort to lie in rare cases, because, after all, they are human too. When during such instances the lie becomes apparent, then even the most proficient police officers will not avoid punishment for their lie. Such measures are also quite extreme as it is in the case with law enforcers who have to lie to expose criminal activities. Nevertheless, every law enforcer should strive not to lie in the course of their dutie and instead follow ethics whenever conducting any business.

Despite it being a difficult decision, dishonest police officers should pay the penalty in the form of termination, because it interferes with the policy of integrity of the whole institution. According to Spector (2008), police honesty is important in several aspects. First, it is the cornerstone by which the supervisors of various departments base their decisions. If the employees with stained reputation continue to serve, it proves that the whole institution is corrupt. Apart from members of the police department, dishonest law enforcers can also signify an inefficient criminal justice system. In fact, some of the law officers closely collaborate with prosecutors who use the information they discovered in the course of their undercover investigation.  Additionally, they are sometimes required to give testimonies in court. Lying in their testimonials affects the final decision of a judge regarding a case and results in a loss of integrity in the court system. Keeping dishonest officers could, therefore, undermine the overall credibility of the entire institution. It is, therefore, important that to terminate such workers to keep the integrity of the institution intact.

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The writer concludes that it is advisable to terminate law enforcers who lie. The reason is that it is hard to draw a line between a lie for a good purpose and lie for a bad purpose. However, to prevent such occurrences of termination, law enforcement supervisors should establish a policy that would define untruth  as a moral injustice which can have severe consequences. Additionally, it should be flexible to give provisions for the officers who lie for a good cause, such as going undercover to conduct investigations. As a result, such policy would draw  a line between the types of lies. 

In conclusion, one of the ethical issues that face law enforcers is the code of truthfulness. Any law officer that lies should face dismissal because of public policy. Working in public offices means that these officers should have high levels of integrity. Lying is one of the social injustices that these law enforcers resort to while performing their duties; as a result, it can compromise the principles of the entire institution. To prevent such cases, the government should introduce the policies that would differentiate lying for a good cause and illegal lying to make all employees aware of the consequences of such practices.

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