Police ethics training : preferred modes of teaching in higher education law enforcement
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Although there is a paucity of research on the subject of police ethics training, there remains insufficient study about the modes used to teach police ethics. In an effort to institutionalize ethics among police officers, an established framework for teaching police ethics is a critical component of a successful training program. Specifically, this study sought to understand what constitutes viable modes of teaching police ethics to officers in the higher education law enforcement profession. The research question for this study asked the following: what are the preferred modes of instruction used to teach police ethics in the higher education law enforcement profession? A literature review revealed several modes of instruction used to provide police ethics training without consensus as to which one is preferred: case study, lectures, role-playing, texts/publications, and videos. This study examined the modes used to teach police ethics from several perspectives: administrators -- police chiefs/law enforcement academy directors; facilitators -- university police department field-training instructors/law enforcement academy instructors; and consumers -- police officers. Basic qualitative research design and data gathering methods were chosen for this study. An examination and analysis of a Likert survey, interviews and documents relating to teaching police ethics were conducted. The intention of the survey was to elicit perspectives of quality and substance specific to the modes used to teach police ethics and to develop questions for the interview process; thereby, enhancing the integrity and purpose of the study. The quantitative data were descriptive, not inferential; therefore, they were used as explanatory -- merely reporting the occurrences to the qualitative findings. The data revealed that the police academy and department in-service adult learning environments are in need of improvement regarding teaching practices, and that the relationship between instructor and consumer (officer) does not endear itself to an engaging classroom experience or optimal level of learning. The data also indicated that administrators and consumers preferred the case study mode to teach police ethics, while the facilitators preferred lecture. Implications of this study included identifying principles of adult learning that will improve the facilitator's ability to teach police ethics. Moreover, the research revealed that understanding the preferred modes used to teach police ethics is an important aspect of the adult learning process. Specifically, the case study mode for teaching police ethics provided an ethical framework to prepare officers for real world situations and enhanced the opportunity to nurture career development paths. Therefore, the information and insights gained from this study provide a useful baseline of data from which to develop future model ethics-training programs in the higher education law enforcement profession.