Purpose of the proposed research
Like all professions, the profession of a police officer is also bound by ethics. In the course of their duty, police officers face several ethical dilemmas, where they are required to take decisions. They are faced with the needs of the law on one hand and ethical codes based on judgment of right and wrong, on the other hand. Situations and circumstances may be different case to case and the strict application of a law would be inappropriate in certain cases. Compared to most other professional ethics, the police ethics are relatively underdeveloped. Police officers need to overcome their moral and ethical dilemmas, they face on duty. Only when they are successfully able to overcome these dilemmas, they would be able to discharge their duties in a professional manner (Pagon, 2003).
This research is intended to determine the level of awareness; understanding and respect police officers have for binding ethics. The research would throw light on the dilemma police officers face in the course of their duty and what requires to be done to make it easier for them. The aim of the research is also to find ways by which police officers can be made more sensitive to binding ethics. It also helps to determine how honest officers perceive their dishonest colleagues and vice versa. The findings would be very instrumental when police reforms are considered. It could help police to conduct themselves in a fair and humane manner, to better serve the public.
The survey research would be based on interviews with police officers, done after intimating to them the confidentiality of the responses, the use of their responses; after which their informed consent would be sought. Based on the responses, further visits to people or places might be required to get a better picture of the influencing factors, under which these officers acted to a particular situation.
Also personal records of the police officers would be sought from the head office, after emphasizing the confidentiality criteria. This would help us to know if the officer had been reprimanded or suspended for any wrongful conduct or lapses. Personal records would also through new light when the responses are seen from that perspective. It would help to establish the relationship of personal life quality before recruitment to their conduct in office.
Please confirm your personal details like age, official designation and years of service put in with the department.
Are you satisfied with the working conditions, benefits, pay, perks and equipment provided? Is there anything you would like to change or modify, which you think will benefit yourself and the department?.
Do you think it is necessary for police officers to command respect among the public?
While you carry out your responsibilities as a police officer, do you realize that you too are bound by law?
There are honest and dishonest policemen, how do you see yourself?
Do you use your designation and influence to get personal favors for yourself, friends or family?
Are you aware of police ethics?. If yes, how serious do you consider them?
The police job is one where officers encounter several ethical dilemmas, where mere interpretation of law isn’t enough sometimes. Have you ever experienced any such dilemmas?
Have you ever experienced a situation where something legally right is deemed by you as being unethical?
Are there any specific difficulties or challenges you face when you take ethically appropriate decisions?
How do you consider police officers like you being offered gifts and services like special low pricing, free transport and refreshing drinks?
Do you know of any colleagues who are dishonest? If yes, how is your relationship with them?
You must have handled several criminal cases till now; can you recollect any case which had been very challenging, in which you had demonstrated your ability to make ethical decisions?
According to you, what are the parameters of a successful police life? How successful are you till now and are you content with it?
Qualitative and quantitative data-gathering strategy
Social science researchers adopt qualitative and quantitative methods to collect data for their research. The qualitative methods include techniques like case studies, interviews and personal observations. The quantitative method on the other hand uses surveys and polls to conclude hard facts. Qualitative data offers a richer, detailed idea as to why people act in certain ways what makes them act like that. Unlike quantitative data, qualitative data do not just quote statistics, but derives its conclusion from several factors studied in dept.
Qualitative data analysis may be described as being exhaustive, digging into aspects like descriptions, behavior, comments etc. Theories are also developed from the data gathered and it makes it possible to compare and differentiate patterns and other findings. Qualitative data analysis has the following advantages (Learn Higher and MMU, 2008)
Offers in depth findings as parameters like behavior, thinking and attitude are recorded
Enables openness by encouraging participants to expand and provide exhaustive responses, by which new areas of concern may be noticed
An elaborate picture can be developed on people’s feelings and actions.
Informed consent and confidentiality
Getting the informed consent is an important part of the research. Investigators are obliged to educate the prospective subjects that they are allowed to decide whether to participate or not. Any survey in any field requires the informed consent of the participants. It is unethical to use participants without their consent. This informed consent should explain the nature and need of the assessment, the third parties involved in the assessment, together and the benefits and risks involved in participating. The informed consent of the participants must be sought without any coercion or threat.
The discussion on consent should begin well in advance to the start of the study so that the subjects have sufficient time to consider the potential benefits and problems in participating. The subjects could be educated through, letters, advertisements, study descriptive sheets, phone calls or through written documents (PHRC, 2012). In the case of children or minors, the informed consent of the parents/ guardians should be sought.
Confidentiality is another important aspect of research. Research subjects should be informed of the extent of anonymity and confidentiality that would be offered. Confidentiality and anonymity guarantees given to the research subjects should be honored unless there are unexpected overriding reasons (Oxford Brookes University, 2012). Researchers need to be careful and ensure that they do not breach confidentiality by passing on personal data to third parties that could identify the research participant. However participants must also be told that the confidentiality offered is not valid before a court of law. Therefore participants must be told of the possibility of revealing the information when required by law.
Oxford Brookes University (2012). Duty of confidentiality for research participants. Retrieved from http://www.brookes.ac.uk/res/ethics/duty
PHRC (2012). Informed consent of research participants. Retrieved from http://healthcare.partners.org/phsirb/infcons.htm
Learn Higher and MMU (2008). Qualitative data analysis. Retrieved from http://learnhigher.ac.uk/analysethis/main/qualitative.html
Pagon M. (2003). Police ethics and integrity. Retrieved from http://agu.academia.edu/MilanPagon/Papers/420253/Police_Ethics_and_Integrity