Pros and Cons of Police Gratuities A police gratuity is the money or “tip” that police officers accept in exchange for their services. Police officers usually accept goods or money in return for engaging in activities, which they are mandated to perform under the terms of their employment. It is necessary to note that police gratuities do not involve acts that are criminal like theft and burglary, and deviant acts performed within the law enforcement environment (Barker 43). The debate of police officers acceptance of gratuities has been a subject of discussion over a long period.
Many researchers on police corruption view the acceptance of even the smallest benefit or gift as the onset of the end of honest officer’s careers (Barker 43). In contrary, some writers believe that the acceptance of gratuities can bring positive benefits in practice, and cause little harm, not only to the police officers themselves, but for the society as a whole (Barker 47). This paper describes the practice of accepting gratuities with the aim of identifying some specific situations where the acceptance will always cause problems, and situations where officers should say “NO! ” when offered gratuities.
According to Richard Kania, there are some particular situations where police officers should be encouraged to accept gratuities. He supports his opinion on the fact that individuals who offer police officers gratuities do so as rewards, but not with the intension of corrupting the police force (Barker 47). He also gives an example of a cook who offered him a free meal in exchange of frequent visits he made to his (cook) establishment. Police officers are routinely obligated to provide such services to the community, and they should not be rewarded at all for providing such services, however; the cook felt a sense of indebtedness to Kania for security services he offered, and the cook’s response was a personal one: a free meal (Barker 51).
The problem he noted is that some of his colleagues when offered such gratuities will make it a routine to collect them on a daily basis. This turns out to be the beginning of corrupting the police system. Therefore, police gratuities that are offered with the aim of rewarding the officers for hard work should be accepted, while those offered with the aim of corrupting the police system should not be accepted.
Accepting gratuities is also a way of integrating fresh police officers into the police force system. John Kleinig notes that the issue of police corruption is highly emphasized during police training, therefore, officers who accept gratuities may feel that they are already corrupted, and there is no reason why they must not accept gratuities from the public (Barker 56). Although both the police force and the public believe that gratuities are not actually bribe, it should be noted that there is a thin difference between gratuities and bribe.
The acceptance of gratuities is the beginning of the slippery slope to corruption. Feldberge suggests that small vices have small effects. Police officers should, therefore, not be offered gratuities such as discounted meals and free coffee as this will mark the beginning of corrupting the police force (Barker 63). He also suggests that police officers should be democratic as possible when scheduling their time, both on and off duty, as this will make them meet different people, and take meals in different places.
Accepting gratuities also damages the image of police officers before the public. A research conducted by Prenzler and Mackay indicated that in the public eye, the acceptance of gratuities is the onset of the slippery slope, and police officers should accept “No gratuities” (Barker 61). In conclusion, the public needs to support police officers if they are to conduct their duties more efficiently. However, the public’s perception of police gratuities as corrupt, whether true or false, will have a deleterious effect on the police conduct and performance.
Therefore, in order to save the image of the police force before the public, police should avoid the acceptance of gratuities. Works Cited Barker T. Police Ethics: Crisis in Law Enforcement. Florida: Charles C Thomas Publisher, 2006. Print
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