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Character and Cops - Your Ideas??

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Female_bodysurfer_max50

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Posted over 2 years ago

 

Some time ago in Barnes and Noble, I pulled a book off the stacks called Character and Cops - Ethics in Policing, by Edwin J. DeLattre.  I pretty much stood there and devoured it with my eyes.  


I wonder which  LEOs here are familiar with the text?  What is your take is on DeLattre's views??


Also, I see an OP has queried LEOs here in Forums about what periodicals they like.


That leads me to wonder what books or periodicals LEOs here might recommend to civilians??  


Doesn't have to be about ethics.  Can be any relevant subject - non-fiction or fiction.


You can read from  DeLattre's Character and Cops at:


http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=85649421

Female_bodysurfer_max50

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 You can catch a glimpse of the content at Googlebooks or Amazon - 


Female_bodysurfer_max50

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And Civilians - If you've read any books you like, run the title up the flagpole and see who salutes.  There are a lot of good ones out there.


And misleading ones. 

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The Holy Bible....never misleading.

Female_bodysurfer_max50

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Sure, but not to dismiss the required training on specific ethical  issues in law enforcement work.  


Useful as it is to many Christians in figuring out spiritual dilemmas, police training is going to require LOT more than showing up to class with a bible.  THAT would be misleading.


I am interested in more job-specific readings that cops here recommend.   From an experience standpoint.


We all know Wambaugh captures some of the essence of police culture in the United States.  Entertaining stuff.  


DeLattre's chapter entitled "Death and Bereavement, Deadly Force and G uilt"goes into some depth about the impact of grief on law enforcement officers.   LEOs must deal with grief more than most professions.  They face grief  that goes across the spectrum from encountering victims of heinous crimes such as children, from having to make the decision to take a life, to losing LEO partners in the prime of their lives.  


LEOs have to do a lot of coping.  


Wambaugh describes 'coping' - of a type.  His anecdotes strike a common chord in us all.  


DeLattre breaks it down formally.


DeLattre discusses how coping is critical to cops' well-being which in turn helps them maintain a high performance level. His discourse on a huge range of ethical issues includes discussion on where and how grief comes into play.  


Grief is only a fraction.


DeLattre also talks about Stressload / Performance.Right off the bat, in every Introduction to Law Enforcement 101 course, instructors discuss job factors contributing to stressload.


Something your average civilian does not have much of a grasp on, I suspect.  

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Never read the book but I agree on a lot of what you said,you really hit the nail on the head about the average civilians....one of my favs in college is a book "Sociology of Deviant Behavior"....Marshall B. Clinard  and  Robert F. Meirer.  I worked in Correction for five years ,it kinda puts everything in a better light...if you will..

Female_bodysurfer_max50

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Yes...many of us do not realize what cops consider as they cope with heinous crimes by neither letting deviant behavior's criminal acts eat their minds nor render them so steeled as to become unable to exercise compassion as a natural component of  their work.


Another idea DeLattre discusses - Discretion.  Most civilians have NO idea what is the meaning of "discretion" and how important it is to society in general that law enforcement officers can and must exercise discretion.  Some civilians are cynical and equate discretion with bald prejudice.  


What use is discretion?  How does discretion work to keep society safe from criminality AND totalitarianism?


DeLattre explains that


"police are granted discretion because no set of laws and regulations can prescribe what to do in every possible circumstance.  The possibilities are too numerous for us to have rules for everything that might happen. Trying to make a rule for everything demeans our ability to apply our intelligence.  When a bureaucracy becomes rule-bound, it is like a person who is muscle-bound; it can do less because it lacks flexibility."


"DEMEANS OUR ABILITY TO APPLY OUR INTELLIGENCE."


Imagine law enforcement without the critical human factor of discretion.  Imagine law enforcement as so 'by the book' policing could be carried out by omputers with arrest powers, programmed with myriad scenarios, stripped of discretion as the human factor. Countless traffic cameralike entities.  With legs.  


Robocops.  Masked enforcers. Is that really what society wants?


Discretion.  Through it we find how much experience matters.  How important integrity is to the job.  And the nature of public trust in critical balance with the LEO on the street.  


(Due to PL's HTML prohibition, I can't cut and paste excerpts here in Forums.  But I will try to find a way to do it that won't involve transcribing as I have just done.)


 


 

Female_bodysurfer_max50

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Who is this guy and shouldn't he be back at home?



Exercising discretion means training to recognize factors that may be mistaken as something altogether different.  What should be the law enforcement officer's responsibility upon encountering an old man muttering to himself?  In one of its Law Enforcement Bulletins, Awareness of Alzheimer's, the FBI discusses unique training challenges to address a problem that might cost as much as $1500/hr in a Search and Rescue operation.


http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/october-2011/awareness-of-alzheimers-disease


DISCRETION


Discretion is exercised by individual LEOs and as departmental policy.


 


Character and Cops, DeLattre, On Discretion 


 


Discretion "also includes authority to decide which means of helping the helpless, maintaining order and keeping the peace are best suited to particular circumstances."



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MarlyB,again you have managed to capture my interest in something that should be of vital interest to all leos.Indeed it is an extremely stressful job,but in some cases this would depend on the persona;psycological make-up of each individual officer.We have to learn to cope with anything/everything or we had better give up the badge.This is not to say we have to be stone hearted,but by the same token we cannot sob every time we appear at a critical call.We are,in some cases,forced to make immediate life or death decissions,while later a court of law ,wheather by judge or jusry will take weeks ,if not months to judge wheather these decisions were correct or incorrect.We can be either jailed,promoted or fired for said decisions.Said decisions,if judged incorrectly by us could possibly result in the demise of the suspect,victim,innocent person or we ourselves.--I will indeed have to look intoo this book by Mr.DeLattre.It sounds as though something of this ilk is LONG overdue.

Just_passin__thru_max50

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I have my copy of Character and Cops in my hands at the moment: 3rd Edition, 1996.


Generally, [and I broadbrush g-e-n-e-r-a-l-l-y] cops don't cope. We turn off. We bury ourselves in procedure, policy and repetitiveness. By doing this, we no longer are affected by what we see. We are reduced to a dull thud. Blah. There is the ocassional event that makes us think. The broadbrush exception is anything that involves children as victims.


And, using the Bible as a standard (it is after the best selling book in the world), ethics find their inception there. I can tell you that a moral compass, sturdy conventional belief system and a certain measure of maturity are important in making good character decisions.


You can, however, fake it... for a while. A handful of our colleagues make decent decisions but they are reflections of what they have seen others decide. When it comes to making character assessments alone, those aforementioned colleagues will eventually waver and err. It happens.


Other books covering a wide range of topics: {definite recommended reading}


Steve Covey: "7 Habits of Highly Effective People"


Dave Grossman: "On Killing"


Michael Abrashoff: 'It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy" [A particularly refreshing profile of effective leadership. You don't have to be a sailor or in the military to take away something from this.]


Johnson & Johnson: "Generations, Inc." - Since there is a widening landscape of age related demographics, this is a good read to get the gist of how other generations think. Written in 2010, it is still relevant.


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Female_bodysurfer_max50

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ssu459, until your post here I had not seen the emotional link to the irony of an LEO's seconds-long decision that must later be weighed over the course of months or years.  I knew it academically, but something about your post explains what is sometimes a terrible and inevitable dilemma between the LEO doing the right thing in the moment and Justice doing the right thing in a court of law.  What coincides.  What does not.  And why.


It almost makes a civilian want to squinch their eyes shut.


So much is compressed in the media.  One never gets the sense of time and what it means over the course of a career.  


So much hangs in the balance.


Yet through all, the officer must never waiver in integrity from day to day, year to year.

Female_bodysurfer_max50

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Thank you for your recommendations, Sarge.  Your description of how cops cope by not coping is food for thought.  A very different mindset you police have, but I can sort of relate to it a little bit as something that might keep a surgeon on course against the clock and certain odds.


But not.  Way not.


I suppose I will never get it and probably I am not meant to.  After all, I am an artist, not a cop.


But as a civilian, I think it is my job to at least try.  Sweeping generalizations just don't cut it.  Especially with everything in front of us these days.


As for the Bible...yes, we were told what God's law is about at an early age.  Our parents instilled in us an ethical system based upon Christian morality and, if I may say so, a particular tenet that translates to all the great religions -


"Do unto your brother as you would have him do unto you."  


We begin there.

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An Amen and bump to the Sarge and MarlyB.We three concur 150% ,but you two managed to present it in a more meaningful and understandable manner.

Just_passin__thru_max50

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By way of sidebar: Being a 'cop' is not primarily the deal here. I am, on the firsthand, a human being. The cop part is just what I do (or did, as the case may be). It is not what I am.


The amazing part is that a human being can be crafted into such a 'different thinking' human being. In asking Mrs. Sarge about it tonight, she said I indeed had morphed into a different thinker. I saw things through different eyes.


Ever thought about what a doctor thinks about when he/she looks at you? I mean, really allow yourself to think about that for a minute.


Now, take that same question and apply it to someone who is in law enforcement. What do I think about when I look at people? What do cops 'see' when they look at you? I will let your imagination take over from here.


Bottom line: The doctor is a human being. A cop is a human being. Both have been trained to see things very differently.


Both look at things penetratingly.


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Imagesca4hzk2w_max50

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For me personally, everything about me, including my work, revolves around God. My integrity is founded on my faith. My ethics founded on the truths that I hold in the bible. According to the bible, the Law of God is written on our hearts (Romans 2:15) which is why certain moral standards can be found among several different religious groups. "Do to your brother as you would have him do unto you"


I find it natural to merge my Christian walk with my work life. Some might think it difficult, or even contradictory. I'm not talking about evangelism on duty (I'm careful with this. I am a representative of a government entity), but being able to freely live out my Christian faith while on duty. Providing justice to criminals, mercy, hope to the hopeless, peace, teaching, rebuking, saving lives, serving others, ect. This is why I love this job. The same things God provides for his citizens, I can provide for my citizens and it flows well. *I'm not advocating my faith is necessary to provide these things, just how I don't have to change hats when I get to work, and turn my Christianity off. Some people do this!*


MarlyB I know this isn't the direction you wanted to take, but as others have pointed out when discussing ethics the bible is a book that comes to mind. We all like to think that our morals are founded on what is written in the bible, but in reality our morals are founded on what God has written on our hearts. Through sin and rebellion we have lost him and his law, so he had Moses write it down for us to remind us.


I haven't read the book you mentioned yet. I'm sure my dad has it I'll check it out


I'm married to the LORD..no prenup

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You are quite correct Romans,my friend.Some do see being a law enforcement officer and being a Christian as being a contradiction,what a shame.I have alway seen the two to fit quite comfortably togtether.We are all children of God although some tend to forget and /or reject this.Being a Christian does not necessarily make a better Police officer,but I have always found it to make my path in life ,in every aspect, easier to travel.I have always attemped to be a good axample to others because I would not ever want to bring shame to God by doing otherwise.

Female_bodysurfer_max50

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Sarge - Human beings first, of course.  And we human beings can develop a knack for putting ourselves in another's shoes - if we care enough to try.  Sure, we won't get it all right, but we might get something.  


What would I think if I were a cop approaching me in a traffic stop? "Does this person pose an immediate threat to me?" or, better - "Let me handle this according to my training so that whatever threat this person may present is accounted for in my approach." 


That's just the approach!  But the 'penetrating look' began long before the walk up, right?  


 


Romans - Guess what? I was actually wishing this thread might turn into some sort of religious/secular junction where ethics and morals are found.  DeLattre makes sense of it all without resorting to religious exclusivity, but from what I can remember, his views are that ethics and morals are instilled. So I do get where the bible's messages become vital.


ssu459 I think you mean you would not shame yourself before God by setting a poor example.  DeLattre explains this in terms of the relationship between morality, integrity, authority and "might makes right".  You describe the potential to offend God when you say the law enforcement officer bears an almost godlike responsibility in the rebuke of another.  I can't imagine what that relationship to rebuke is like - except as in a parental way.   But that's not really it either- is it?


Rebuke as an ethical choice.  That one makes me think.


 

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It is very interesting when you study rebuke in the bible.


Christians are actually commanded to rebuke another when one falls into sin. *Luke 17:3* We are called to hold each other accountable and build each other up. The Body of Christ.


Sometimes out in the field, you run into a young guy/gal who you can tell is a good kid, just making bad choices or hanging with the wrong crowd. Those you want to teach. There is still a chance that they can do something with their lives and become law abiding citizens. Give them a lecture. This is fully within the spectrum of duties as an LEO. Educate the citizens. Build relationships. Prevent future crime.


Then you run into the knucklehead who wants to throw his/her life away and just doesn't care. Those you rebuke! Not that there isn't anything good to say, but a little more direct, authoritative. Maybe throw in a "are you stupid?" and a couple "fool's" followed by a "get behind me Satan!"


Ok maybe get behind me Satan is going too far..


Every situation is different and calls for a different approach.


I'm married to the LORD..no prenup

Female_bodysurfer_max50

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The ethical choice to rebuke is the authority society gives to its law enforcement officers who will one day take the witness stand to provide testimony on behalf of it.  Justice itself is comprised, in part, of rebuke.  As it is also comprised of mercy.  Thus we see the Lady blindfolded, scales in one hand, sword in the other, as the ideal of an adversarial system.  


We also see Justice in the form of a street cop cutting the decision between a verbal warning accompanied by compassionate counsel, and a hard scolding during an arrest.  Friendly counsel or stiff rebuke? Discretion.  Ethics.


One might say "Get thee behind me Satan", upon leaving the front door, mindfull of the many temptations toward corruption one will encounter in the work day.   It may become a habit.  


DeLattre says deliberation over complex issues is borne of habit that comes naturally to one possessing "moral seriousness". He also discusses the hazard of deliberating too much -


 


DELIBERATION AND MORAL PROBLEMS IN TRAINING


 



There is no more contemptible type of human character than that of the nerveless sentimentalist and dreamer, who spends his live in a weltering sea of sensibility and emotion, but who never does a manly concrete deed...There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.


WILLIAMS JAMES


 



"As officers develop good character by forging good habits, they learn to address hard questions productively.  Deliberation about complex issues of right and wrong -- or of which several right actions should take precedence -- become natural for a person of habitual moral seriousness.  Responsible people learn to deliberate well and to be decisive and timely without being arbitrary or impulsive.


Officers also need a sense of which situations require no more than their habitual conduct and ones which call for careful -- even fast -- decisions.  Not every situation calls for deliberation.  Officers who make everything a problem of deliberation are like the man the philosopher Brand Blanshard wrote about, "who is so anxious to cover all contingencies with insurance that he exhausts his income on it, and has nothing left to live on."  No reasonable person reasons consciously about every action.  We waste ourselves, as Blanchard also observed, "in incessant deliberation over what should be matters of mere habit."  The rational person "instead of perpetually questioning his habit and so check-mating his will, like the unhappy centipede that begins to consider how it ran, will make his habits his ally, turning over to it the larger part of his life so that he may bring his intelligence to bear freely on the rest.


We no more need to spend our first waking moments each day thinking about whether to behave honestly toward family and friends than we need to deliberate whether to brush our teeth."


(Cops and Character, pg 159)


 


Female_bodysurfer_max50

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I think of Sarge's suggestions the first I will take a look at is On Killing, - The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, by David Grossman.  


I recall reading something somewhere about "rings of acceptance" or something like that having to do with taking a life on the battlefield in a theater of war.  


First, I have to find the darned power cable for my Kindle!! 



 

Copy_of_oct3_2012_max50

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 When the bible says Thou shall not kill. It is referring to civilian murder not  war killing. Also like an LEO needing to stop a person who is about to shoot someone.    My pastor is a Vietnam veteran and now works with vets who have PTSD.  To help them come to terms with what happened to them.  Because he had to come to terms with the killing himself.  


YaYa Sister

Female_bodysurfer_max50

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Right, GLady.  The "Rings of Acceptance" - as I recall in the terminology -  contribute to a soldier's ability to coming to terms.  The act of killing causes a ripple effect that lands on the moral duty our society has to troops we commit to war and send into battle on our behalf.


Ive googled and googled and can't find it! 


Basically, the "Rings of Acceptance" are like a ripple effect moving out from the kill.  First, the soldier's fellow soldiers there at the time.  Next the squad, squad leader, platoon, on up through the division and command, the military branch itself, the government.  Then...the civilian side - family, community, society's reaction to the war, etc.  Any one of those rings or circles broken - the soldier is going to have a much rougher time coming to terms.  


I believe that, whatever your political stance, once troops are committed, we are obligated to see to their physical and psychological welfare.


War is HELL.



Female_bodysurfer_max50

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So I am trying to make sense of what LEOs experience in the civilian environment where the force continuum may include taking a life, but is not received the same way by society as is the taking of life by a soldier on the battlefield.  


I am thinking about THAT dilemma and, as a civilian, I have no answers.  Yet.  


But I think we owe it to the ones we ask to serve and protect us to make the effort to know, right??


And to learn in a way that DOES NOT involve asking. with a glint in the eye, of soldier OR cop, "What is it like to kill someone?"


 


In the meantime, regarding ethics in policing...


I'm also taking a look at an Oct. 16th, 1999 PBS interview with DeLattre,: Federal Prosecutor; and the Miami, Hollywood (Florida) and Los Angeles Chiefs of Police,  and others regarding the large scale police corruption scandal in Los Angeles.  The interview was conducted as 7 deputy sheriff's were charged with stealing $1.4 million in drug money and 30 narcotic officers were implicated . 


The lengthy interview highlights not only ethical issues that had arisen, but points out the impact on hiring policies with the outcome of stricter background checks and screening procedures that applicants encounter today.


It's all about Integrity.


Content Forthcoming. 


http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/archive/copsgobad.html


 

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Marly,


Just wanted to say thank you for posting this topic. 


Denise

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Great topic! And I will also give a bump to Lt. Colonel Grossman's books "On Killing" and "On Combat." Excellent books and definitely a required reading for LEO's.

Female_bodysurfer_max50

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A friend brought me a copy of On Killing.  I tore it open and went straight to the 'good part'.  It totally freaked me out.  I put the book down for four days.   


On Killing feels like something I'm not supposed to know.  It feels like stuff men are supposed to handle.  Yes.  I can say it.  It feels like stuff women should be spared from.  It's a politically incorrect thing to say and I don't care.  Simply, it testifies to my dim own view of the darkest inclination of men. Of some stubborness in me that won't flex.


But in refusing the question in any quarter, have I the right to this innocence? 


Have I the right to this lightness of spirit when at all times of the day and night I ask you to stop the madman with a gun?  You...man.


You...Woman?


I try again.  I open the book to the center - 


 


SECTION VI: The Killing Response Stages:  What Does It Feel Like to Kill?


The Concern Stage: "How Am I Going to Do?"


"...it must be remembered that only 15 to 20 percent o U.S. World War II riflemen went beyond this first stage."


 


What does that mean?  I can tell you what that means to me.  It means my dear friend Robert, just twenty, left for basic training in North Carolina for the US Army.  Will Robert know The Concern Stage from several miles away at the sight of a puff of dirt?  


It's a question I will never ask Robert.  I don't ask you.  I don't ask them.  I didn't ask Patrick.  


Patrick, Ret. USMC with two tours in Vietnam, said suddenly -  "I never shot anybody.  We were on boats."


Months later, Pat and I went to the reproduction of the Vietnam Memorial Wall.  I went one way.  Pat went the other.  I saw him go up to the stand and pull a piece of paper out of the hip pocket of his jeans.  He spent a long time looking at that book, going back to the wall.  


We'd cried seperately.  Dried our tears seperately.  We didn't talk.


Walking back to his bike, Pat said, - "I didn't go out that day.  Every one of them got killed.  I was the only one left.  I went looking for them today."  


Then, not long after, out of the blue,  Pat turned to me and said, "I have no idea how many I killed.  We blew up whole villages."


 


No.  It won't do to read from the center.  On Killing means you must begin at the beginning.

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