Is coffee to be accepted by a police officer

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Prenzler, Beckley and Bronitt (2013) state that it is common for officers to take bribes because of the nature of police work. A free cup of coffee, on the other hand, requires police officers to spend time unequally between institutions that do and those that do not offer such gratuities (“”NCJRS Abstract – National Criminal Justice Reference Service””, 2017). Acceptance of a free cup of coffee has long been a controversial topic among uniformed law enforcers. This study seeks to find out whether a police officer should accept a free cup of coffee and the ramifications of doing so, being that the act is beyond their pay-check, leads to prejudiced policing and transforms into bigger bribes. Illegal: Beyond Pay-Check

Accepting a free cup of coffee is illegal (“NCJRS Abstract – National Criminal Justice Reference Service”, 2017). The act is legally punishable because it goes against the International Association of Chiefs of Police Law Enforcement Code of Ethics (Prenzler, Beckley, Bronitt and Saunders, 2012). IACP defines a gratuity as any benefit, discount or gift that one receives with regards to their profession. Accepting a free cup of coffee is not only equivalent to gratuity but also amounts to an on-duty offence because it is an act of receiving a reward more than the normal pay-check (Prenzler et. al., 2012).

Prejudiced Policing

Democratic policing ethically requires the officers to serve all citizens equally (Banks, 2012). However, one of the ramifications of accepting gratuities is that the police tend to serve the person who offers it more than other citizens (Banks, 2012). For instance, in a high crime zone, police would protect stores which have rewarded them before more than those that have not. Free coffee may also enhance the merchant’s expectation (Ivković, 2014). Consequently, this would interfere with equal protection because the police, feeling in debt, would tend to favor the ‘coffee givers’ more than others.

Leads to Bigger Bribes: The ‘Slippery Slope’ Ramification Argument

The ‘Slippery Slope’ argument holds that a minor action taken currently is likely to lead to a major and more intense action or consequence in future (Green, 2013). This is one of the ramifications of accepting a gratuity. Psychologically, once an officer begins accepting smaller bribes such as gratuities, they are likely to graduate to bigger ones such as accepting huge sums of money (Green, 2013). It is ethically wrong to accept a cup of coffee; the only gap that separates accepting the free cup and receiving $ 500 lies in the degree or level of wrongness. Otherwise, both the two are both wrongs in the eyes of policing ethics as observed by Green (2013). Once one accepts free gratuities, they would be indirectly answerable to the person who offered it. For instance, they would consider forgiving them when they find them committing a traffic offence.

References

Banks, C. (2012). Criminal justice ethics: Theory and practice. Sage Publications.

Green, J. L. (2013). Decision Point: Real-Life Ethical Dilemmas in Law Enforcement. CRC Press.

Ivković, S. K. (2014). Police Corruption. In Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Springer New York.

NCJRS Abstract – National Criminal Justice Reference Service. (2017). Ncjrs.gov. Retrieved 28 December 2017, from https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=99041

Prenzler, T., Beckley, A., & Bronitt, S. (2013). Police gifts and benefits scandals: addressing deficits in policy, leadership and enforcement. International Journal of Police Science & Management, 15(4).

Prenzler, T., Beckley, A., Bronitt, S., & Saunders, J. (2012). Rethinking police gifts and benefits policies. ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security.

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