Some of the following information was taken from an article authored by Marty Katz, a retired sergeant with the Broward Sheriff’s Office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Marty is owner and chief instructor of Crimewave Solutions, a training company for officer survival and common sense self defense.
I will be evaluating the APD with regards to training, and it is critical that part of the training is ethics training because trust among those we serve and protect can be established if our officers and civilian personnel are meeting the highest ethical standards.
Ethical behavior is the foundation of any professional organization and as such, should be a recurring theme in every training program.
Ethics is the common thread that can be found at the beginning of — and typically, throughout — almost every instance of police officer misbehavior. When officers lower our image in the eyes of those we protect and serve, they forget that at one time they raised their right hand and took a solemn oath to uphold a certain set of ethics.
The problem can run from the highest command level, the Chief, to the civilians at the front desk. Each of these levels has a different responsibility, but ethics are everyone’s concerns. When one of our own violates their oath, everyone in this department and even in the profession suffers. It is time to regain that which we lost.
I will take the time to reinforce what we were all taught in the academy by making ethics a top priority. While the APD has experienced scandals, officer firings, a high officer turnover, and a negative image, I am confident that as we go forward, these will be only memories, and no longer reality. I am challenged to create an environment that allows good ethics to grow, and good officers to want to work here. Once you have a positive reality, the positive perception is not far behind.
I am creating an atmosphere of zero tolerance to ethical misbehavior as well as individual ownership for one’s actions. If I succeed, many of the problems clinging to us, as a department, should vanish. By holding everyone to a higher ethical standard, we can reestablish trust where it has been damaged, and reinforce trust where already we’ve proven ourselves worthy. I am convinced that with a focus on ethics and the proper training, the community and the police themselves will see positive change between the command and rank and file, between officer and officer, and between officer and citizen.
Mart Katz writes: “Remember this: Right is right, even if no one else does it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone else does it.”