Term Paper: Dealing With Indiscipline in the Police Force

Pages: 6 (1847 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice  ·  Buy This Paper

Officer Joe

Being a police officer comes with the responsibilities of maintaining order, crime control or even offering social services such as emergency assistance and finding missing persons. The police force should deter and mitigate the crime while operating under the rule of law (Stevens, 2011). Police officers are not superhuman. They are exposed to long-time environmental threats which when left unaddressed may result to diseases such as ulcers and heart diseases or even addiction to drugs. Constant exposure of officers to a sense of mistrust from the public, and the feeling that their respective oversight authorities are watching creates a sense of job insecurity. Court sermons and appearances affect officer's schedules and often interfere with personal life making the work of the police hard.

In this line of duty, the officers undertake dangerous tasks from patrols in high crime areas to undercover work making it hard for them to maintain social order (Ellison, 2004). Officers often find it hard to balance between family, work and social life as it is tough to relate to regular people leading to strained relationships. When faced with such difficulty, an officer may become emotionally drained resulting to unethical behaviors such as alcoholism, scruffy dressing, being rude, and sometimes failing to adhere by the rules and regulations of the police department. Officer Joe has been exhibiting such behaviors and catches the attention of the criminal justice manager.

Dealing with Officer Joe requires meticulous investigations from the manager to identify the root of the officer's problems, and to conceive a workable plan to deal with the officer according to his situation. Negative pressures related to police work or the officer's private life may have caused Officer Joe's recent conduct. Exposure to human indecency and pain and dealing with hostile criminals takes a toll on the officer resulting to work stress. Too structured work environments where the office has to respond to numerous calls such as domestic violence, traffic regulations, or retail thefts makes the officers feel overworked. These do not want to make any decisions resulting to neglect of their physical appearance and sometimes alcoholism (Castillo & Martinez, 2008).

Working in shift and tight schedule denies an officer freedom to plan for the off-duty period. An officer finds it almost impossible to further his education exposing him to a feeling of frustration due to unaccomplished life goals. Officer Joe may have exerted pressure on himself due to such reasons resulting to the officer focusing on life pleasures such as alcoholism for joy and fulfillment. Officer Joe may have also been experiencing cynicism where one feels that they have not influenced the society because of frustration by the overall justice system. In some instances, there is the release of criminals from jail even before the officer has had time to carry out investigation and the necessary paperwork (Shockey-Eckles, 2011). This scenario makes the police feel unvalued, his work undermined making the officer reckless, and the pent-up anger leads to outbursts, rebelliousness, and violation of the department's rules.

Officer Joe may also be going through strained personal relationship within his family. The family may blame the officer's work for misfortunes happening in the family and minimal time spent with the family. A criminal may threaten the officer's family and coerce the office to undertake and illegal activity for them or impede an investigation. Officer Joe may have found it hard to cope with family rejection resulting to stress and consequently uncontrolled conduct. Working in uncertain hours and performing dangerous assignments exposes an officer to fear of potential death which when goes unaddressed or resolved affects the officer's state of mind (Ellison, 2004). Critical incidents stress where an officer witnesses or deals with death or destruction, which could be detrimental to one's mental and emotional state, remains an occupational hazard.

Another factor that could have contributed to Officer Joe's conduct is a case where an officer is terminally ill. If the officer has not shared the news with colleagues and superiors, it leads to stress and sometimes the inability to maintain neatness or even control one's anger. According to Ellison (2004), some of these challenges relate where one leads to another creating a bigger challenge.

Absenteeism from work is one of the effects of an alcoholic officer. This result to inadequacy of the entire police department since available officers has to be overworked in order to cover the duties of the absent officer. Such a situation aggravates the problem since other officers will also feel overworked rendering them ineffective since they have to cover more ground (Stevens, 2011).It precipitates occupational injury due to overwork rendering the whole department wanting. On the other hand, the officer may show up for duty in time but become less committed to his job.

An officer faced by such emotional imbalances and alcoholism becomes ineffective and incompetent in dispensing his duty. Thus, affects the overall police department especially when the public starts to notice the lack of good judgment in an officer entrusted with their safety. If Officer Joe goes on a field assignment and has had alcohol or is mentally unstable, his partner and the public find themselves endangered by that officer as opposed to the police paradigm requirement that every officer should be in a position to protect everyone including a suspect. Where an officer has to make a quick filed call, chances are, he will make the wrong call due to poor judgment. It may result in the killing of a suspect or the only lead to an ongoing investigation.

Stevens (2011), asserts that when a community feels it is at risk it does not trust the police department and will go ahead tainting the police organization image. An officer who feels less trusted will be reluctant to respond to the public and when they do, they result in violence or inhumane treatment to suspects. All these effects will together perpetuate a situation that causes sluggish thinking and coordination impeding reaction time by police leading to more crimes.

For a manager, viable priorities are to support Officer Joe and retain him active. It is not an easy activity and requires a well worked out plan that will result into a win-win situation for both the police department and the affected officer. Consideration of the views of other officers in the same department with Officer Joe is inevitable since his misconducts affect them by tainting the image of the department. Depending on the record of the officer and the nature of the crime or misconduct, choose the best solution for specific circumstances (Raterman, 2003). The chosen solution should not enforce self-discipline; on the contrary, it should promote self-discipline. There are immediate and long-term steps that a manager should consider solving the above-discussed issues. One should also refer to past similar situations and find out the means used to solve them.

According to Officer Joe's situation, the manager should introduce a random breath testing exercise within the whole department. Forehand-stipulated consequences ensure that the culprits know the possible results of their actions. Termination and indictment for endangering the lives of their partners should be penalties for guilty officers. Medical examination on an officer found stressed to rules out the possibility of a terminal illness. The manager should encourage the officer to seek help from the employee assistant program if the organization has one (Kelly, 2003) which includes psychiatric help and counseling.

The manager can also opt to transfer the officer or conduct a police shuffle. Transferring an officer has its shortcomings in that it perpetuates bad elements in the policing department from one station to another. Shuffling may result in the creation of a blue wall barrier albeit imaginary, prevents the public from scrutinizing law enforcers. Officer Joe's exemption from field assignments where it is hard to monitor his actions and allocation of an office assignment is important for monitoring his progress. Termination of Officer Joe is another option available to the manager but this should only come as a last option.

As Raterman (2003) indicates, in Officer Joe's case who has been a top performing officer with no criminal records calls for employment of pliable measures before opting to a stringent solution. One of the possible solutions for Officer Joe is progressive discipline. This process puts an office on notice while, on the other hand, the office remains active. A review on Officer Joe's personal file should be conducted to understand the officer's record. One should inquire with his previous superior supervising commander on his opinions about Officer Joe and what the possible causes of the officer's recent misconduct. One should review the facts and circumstances gathered that might have led to the Officer Joe's misconduct (Castillo & Martinez, 2008). As the manager does this, he ought to encourage the officer to seek medical and emotional help from the agency's employee assistant program. Over punishment would not be ideal since Officer Joe was a good officer. Nevertheless, if the office is not receptive he should face dismissal (Stevens, 2011)

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