1 American International Journal of Contemporary Research Vol. 2 No. 2; February 2012. Technology Ethics for Law Enforcement Lieutenant Joe Peny Armstrong Police Department 11935 Abercorn Street Savannah, GA 31419, USA. Abstract This paper explores the different aspects of Ethics and unethical behavior for law Enforcement officers at all levels in reference to the use of Technology . Technology has enabled law Enforcement to respond more quickly to calls for service, use more advanced non-lethal compliance tools, and use the Internet to combat crime. The foundation of ethical practices is based on the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution supplemented by the courts of the United States delivering decisions that affect the use of Technology by law Enforcement officers and administrators. Using these guidelines, officers are expected to complete their daily duty assignments with the use of Technology both legally and ethically.
2 An officer's ethical foundation and training allow them to exercise discretion in the Enforcement of laws, sometimes blurring the line between what is ethical and legal. Keywords: Ethics , Fourth Amendment, unethical behaviors Ethics is the ability to make a distinctive choice between what is right and what is wrong. Law Enforcement officers use their discretion when the benefit of society outweighs the letter of the law. When it comes to Technology , there is no Technology Ethics , just ethical situations that involve Technology (Kallman & Grillo, 1993, p. 3). Technology allows unethical acts to be facilitated faster than before and can be more difficult to detect. Although most ethical values are learned throughout childhood, other ethical values are guided by laws and customs based on the ethical values that are reflected by society s expectation of behavior. A law Enforcement officer experiences conflict when his/her personal ethical beliefs contradict or differ with an existing rule or law.
3 Ethics have always been the foundation of law Enforcement . Law Enforcement officers use laws and policies to guide their professional behavior but have a great deal of discretion when it comes to enforcing those laws. Officers undergo Ethics training due to the nature of this authority and the potential of liability. Law Enforcement officers are held to a higher standard by society twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and for the remainder of their life. Their actions, if unethical, can damage the public s trust of police and tarnish the profession as a whole (Wyatt-Nichol & Franks, 2009). Unethical behavior can produce civil lawsuits against a department or administration. In Ohio v. Harris, 489 378 (1989), the United States Supreme Court decided that cities and their administration can be held liable if the violation of someone s constitutional rights occurred from a lack of Ethics training (Wyatt-Nichol & Franks, 2009).
4 Members of the law Enforcement community believe that Ethics training bridges the gap between organizational policy and the actions of the officers, by introducing or reinforcing rules and behavioral expectations (Wyatt-Nichol & Franks, 2009). Proper training of Ethics in policing is a vital component of any law Enforcement agency and the absence of such training is a poor reflection of the entire policing culture. Ethics in Technology A relatively new component of Ethics training concentrates on the use of Technology . Technology can be seen in the vehicles on the highway, the weapons and tactics that are used by law Enforcement , and the way the world communicates. For law Enforcement , it also means learning how to investigate crimes in a digital age, legally, as well as ethically. But exactly what is Technology ? Technology , according to an article in the Ohio Journal of Science, transforms the natural world through innovative processes, systems, structures and devices to extend human abilities ( What are Science, Technology and Engineering?)
5 , 2011, p. 66). With the aid of engineering, Technology has defined civilization through the ages, such as the use of stone tools during the Stone Age and the use of iron in the Iron Age ( What are Science, Technology and Engineering?, 2011, p. 66). 124. Centre for Promoting Ideas, USA Now that we are in the information Age, information has replaced the natural resources that have shaped our social, environmental, and economic structure. Law enforcements application of Technology increases the capability of policing throughout the world. Since the mid twentieth century, Technology has played a progressing role in the way officers perform their daily duties. With the invention and adaptation of the motorized vehicle for widespread patrols and the telephone that provided a quicker reporting of crimes, Technology has not only aided the police in the execution of their duties, but has provided another avenue in which ethical behaviors have to be monitored (Kappeler, 2006).
6 For example, it would not be ethical for an officer to break the state mandated speed limit while not in the execution of his/her official duties. With every new tool invented, it brings along with it an innate responsibility to use that tool in an ethical way. Although the advancement of Technology is essential for the progression of the social order, society does not view change with open and enthusiastic arms. Most inventors use the technological imperative that simply states that if it can be done, it will and perhaps should be done (Kilpatrick, 2010, p. 568). One example of this would be human cloning. By using the technological imperative, human cloning should be done because humankind has the ability to do so. It should not matter who agrees or disagrees, according to this maxim (Kilpatrick, 2010). One of the possible arguments for such an act would be to use the process solely for medical purposes, similar to organ farming (Kilpatrick, 2010).
7 Faced with possibilities and even probabilities that are unacceptable, we humans must establish widely agreed upon worldwide standards for ethical and moral decision-making in Technology (Kilpatrick, 2010, p. 568). The role of Technology in our society has ethical considerations that are not as unique as one may think. Technology enhances our everyday lives by making tasks convenient. By using Technology unethically, crimes such as harassment or bullying have evolved from being confined to a specific location and time to being passed continuously through social media outlets. Instead of stalking an individual from across the street, a predator can stalk his/her prey from afar by utilizing a social network via mobile phone and/or computer. Law Enforcement must not only cope with these new avenues of how crimes are committed, but also stay within ethical boundaries during their own use of Technology .
8 Using the National Crime information Center (NCIC) or various states CIC s to determine the name and address of an individual for personal reasons is not only a violation of the law but also an ethical violation as well. Tools of Law Enforcement Among the tools commonly issued to law Enforcement officers are the semi-automatic pistol, a collapsible baton, Oleoresin Capsicum spray (commonly referred to as OC spray), and the taser. The pistol that is carried by law Enforcement is drastically different than the sidearm that was carried forty years ago. The six shot revolver has been replaced with the fifteen round semi-automatic hand gun. The Billy club of old has been replaced with a steel collapsible baton. OC spray is carried by law Enforcement and delivers a blast of chemicals to the eyes of a suspect leaving them disoriented and usually compliant. The taser is a weapon that delivers 50000 volts to its target, completely immobilizing the subject until they can be brought under control.
9 With the exception of the pistol, these tools are non-lethal and used at various levels of non-compliance. Each of these tools has unique characteristics that the officer must be trained on, to include their proper and ethical use; although not every legal use is viewed as ethical by society. Pepper Spray During the month of November, several peaceful protests around the country were being held as the Occupy Wall Street movement. In Seattle and the University of California, Davis, protesters were sprayed with OC spray during a passive protest. The use was just absolutely out of the ordinary and it was not in accordance with any training or policy of any department that I know of (Loghman, 2011 p. 1). There is little doubt that the use of Oleoresin Capsicum can be useful in situations where individuals are violent or have some sort of weapon;. however, designating pepper spray where suspects are vocally resistive seems unreasonable and could even be seen as a form of abuse (Otto & Jos 2004).
10 Taser In September of 2007, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry was giving a speech at the University of Miami. In attendance at the speech was Andrew Meyer, a University of Florida student who was given the opportunity to ask the senator a question. After asking three questions, he was escorted to the rear of the auditorium by two police officers where he began to passively resist (Wu, 2010). 125. American International Journal of Contemporary Research Vol. 2 No. 2; February 2012. The officers, three by this time, pinned him to the ground and one of the officers removed his taser from his holster. Meyer screamed that he didn t do anything and Don t tase me, bro (Wu, 2010, p. 362). Subsequently, the officer tased and arrested Meyer for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct and spent the night in jail. Upon his release, he apologized and all of the charges were dismissed (Wu, 2010).