American Police Ethics
by Chuck Klein
The term "Be Safe" or "Stay Safe," as a closing
comment or sign-off, has become ubiquitous.
Officers use it among themselves, trainers finalize
sessions with it and police columnists end their
writings with this same line. Not that this is wrong
or not good. To the contrary, looking out for the
well being of fellow officers is one of the requisites
of being a police officer.

Wishing one to be safe can also apply to other
professions as well. We surely hope all firefighters,
truck drivers and pilots conduct their details in a
safe manner.

There are very few livelihoods where "safe" is
secondary to the profession. Law enforcement is
one of those where ethical being trumps safety.
Police officers, by their every nature, are charged
with not only putting themselves in harms way for
the physical protection of society, but must be the
stalwart, the guiding beacon of honesty and
integrity - the last line of defense against violence
as well and moral decay. Should an officer lose his
or her moral compass, all who witness - or learn -
of his lack of ethics, will begin the breakdown of

The story has often been told of the Jewish boy
who is punished for using the dairy towel to dry the
non-dairy dishes. When he questions his father
about such an archaic law, the elder explains that
the dietary laws have always been in effect and if
you break one law and allow it to go unpunished, all
of society begins to break down. It is difficult to
argue with this reasoning as the Jews have been
around for almost 6000 years.

We have often heard the line, when relating to
American police officers, "our country's last line of
defense." This has usually been in reference to
physically standing guard against enemies' intent on
committing violence. A truer meaning has not been
tendered. But, seldom espoused is the underlying
definition of the American police officer - he and she
stand for the epitome of civilized society. America's
very existence depends upon the rigid blue line
never wavering in the face of outrageous criminal
conduct, civil riots or political trickery run amok.

The American Police Officer: A balance of
benevolence to the community with
enforcement of the law, in concert to the
Constitution, all the while adhering to highest
moral and ethical ideals.

However, when it comes to wishing the best for our
guardians of the future, there might be a better
term we can use: "Stay Ethical." Here, the speaker
is not only acknowledging the audience is already
ethical, but is encouraging/reminding them to
continue to place ethics in the forefront of their
world. USA police officers are the envy of the world
and it's not because they are safe. It is due to their
professionalism, a qualification that generates,
exudes and is based on a high ethical and moral

Ethics - ethical behavior - is defined as a set, or
system of, moral values and principles that are
based on honesty and integrity and have been
accepted as professional standards. To a cop that
means, no lying, no cheating, no stealing - no
exceptions, no excuses.

It is surely every LEO's daily practice to live safely,
to protect and serve, to stand beside and back-up
fellow officers and . . . to always do the right thing.
Safety is mostly a matter of practicing rules of
common sense. There is little temptation to violate
safety procedures. Not so, ethical matters.

Temptations abound to subvert those of
power to commit lapses in discretion for the
gains of favor.

Police officers are in the business of ethical
behavior. This is their stock-in-trade, forte',
signature, persona, identification and what
differentiates them from other professions. When
one police officer violates this trust, this code of
honesty, all are tarnished. Adherence to, or practice
of, any voids-of-integrity is counter to the code of
ethics that is part of each officer's sworn duty - his
existence for being.

Law enforcement trainers find it most difficult to
teach common sense, likewise ethical behavior. All
LEO instructors can and should set the moral
example while always being on the lookout for those
badge wearers who might be subject to

Next time you sign-off with a fellow officer, consider
acknowledging the exclusivity that this LEO is an
honest, trustworthy person and that you wish
him/her to remain so.

Stay Ethical,

Police Author
Chuck Klein
I'm an ex-hot-rodder, former police
officer, certified firearms instructor
and retired licensed private
investigator. Most of my writing has
been for the police and firearms fields.
Instinct Combat Shooting has now
been in continuous print for over 25
years and has become a standard
police training tactic.

Though Circa 1957 was out-of-print for
many years, the demand for used
copies on Amazon.com indicated a high
interest based on prices higher than
the original selling price. Thus the
publisher asked me to write additional
material for a 2nd
edition - now
available on Amazon.com. This
coming-of-age, set-in-the-fifties,
historically and technically correct
novel is more of an autobiography.
Copyright © 2019  Barry M. Baker