Identifying Ethical Guardians for a Community




Schroeder, Marc

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



One of the reoccurring issues within law enforcement has been that of toxic officers gaining employment repeatedly after a history of documented misconduct at previous law enforcement agencies. This issue not only affects transparency and legitimacy with the citizens that law enforcement serves but impacts the morale of the applicable law enforcement agency which hinders the delivery of quality service. Background investigators are tasked with finding ideal applicants that meet or exceed the standards set forth by the employing law enforcement agency through a litany of examinations and assessments. These background investigators must research every aspect of an applicant’s personal history and identify whether the applicant could perform as an ethical guardian of the community. Thorough background investigations are crucial and are the gateway to providing quality service. The lack of a thorough background investigation may lead to additional legal ramifications in the form of lawsuits and Brady violations. Thorough background investigations should supersede any suggested shortcuts to fill vacancies with a previously experience officer due to cost savings or an employee’s personal relationship with an applicant. The well being of the community and the law enforcement agency must be a priority during the background investigation. Law enforcement agencies should conduct thorough background investigations on all applicants regardless of prior law enforcement service.


Police ethics, Police misconduct, Police--personnel management