What are the different ethical problems in law enforcement?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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One of the most frequently discussed ethical issues in law enforcement is that of profiling. On the one hand, for example, young men are more likely to commit crimes, than, for example, elderly women. On the other hand, selectively targeting young men, especially those of certain religious or ethnic backgrounds, for searches at airports or other forms of search or questioning not only is unfair to those who may be completely innocent of anything but being male or black or Islamic, but also creates an atmosphere of suspicion and hostility.

Another ethical problem in law enforcement is sometimes known as "noble cause corruption," the temptation to take shortcuts to achieve a good end. Thus, for example, to justify the arrest of someone who might be a drug dealer or other criminal, a police officer might be tempted to plant evidence, use illegal search or seizure, or coercive forms of interrogation. 

A final ethical dilemma is where laws themselves are considered unjust, and law enforcement personnel might be tempted not to enforce what is widely seen as an unjust law. 

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