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Ethics and Integrity

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Ethics and Integrity

Public trust in law enforcement agencies to perform their responsibilities in an ethical manner is essential to effective crime control and community policing. Ethical law enforcement agencies are more effective, because the application of community policing helps build mutual respect and trust between police and citizens. Ethics and integrity and community policing are attributes of the high-performing, successful law enforcement agency.

Description and Rationale

Effective crime control requires a collaborative working relationship between law enforcement and the communities that they are sworn to serve and protect. A culture of police integrity is essential in building respect and trust and, in turn, mutual respect and trust between police and citizens is essential to effective crime fighting. Local law enforcement agencies operating within their legal authority, in accordance with accepted police practices, and in an ethical manner consistent with community expectations, is the essence of police integrity. Police integrity and ethics are fundamental to effective policing and community policing and cut across an array of issues including but not limited to criminal investigations, racial profiling, biased-based policing, traffic stop data, early intervention systems, internal affairs, citizen complaint investigations, mediation, use-of-force, recruitment, hiring and retention, and procedural justice.

Celebrate National Ethics Awareness Month this March by using COPS Office publications to help you promote ethics and integrity within your agency and throughout the community. 

The COPS Office offers free publications on ethics and integrity that address the core elements of community policing:

Community Partnership- Collaborative partnerships between law enforcement agencies and the individuals and organizations they serve to develop solutions to problems and increase trust in police.

Building Trust Between the Police and the Citizens they ServeBuilding Trust Between the Police and the Citizens They Serve

Abstract: Building Trust Between the Police and the Citizens They Serve focuses on the pivotal role of the Internal Affairs function as one component of an agency-wide professional standards effort in building trust between law enforcement agencies, their staff, and the communities they are sworn to protect and serve. The guide addresses the Internal Affairs function from complaint processing to decision-making, discipline, notification, and community transparency, as well as building an effective Internal Affairs approach for any size agency. It also looks at the Internal Affairs process from the citizen’s viewpoint, presenting information about how local agencies can be accountable to their citizens through trust-building initiatives and other activities.

Organizational Transformation-The alignment of organizational management, structure, and information systems to support community partnership and proactive problem solving.

COPS Evaluation Brief No. 3: Creating a Culture of IntegrityCOPS Evaluation Brief No. 3: Creating A Culture of Integrity

Abstract:This report examines the successes and challenges of Creating A Culture of Integrity and will further the success of the COPS Office—a federal leader in police integrity—in helping law enforcement agencies continue to provide a high level of public safety while respecting the rights of all the individuals they serve.



Problem-Solving Techniques- The process of engaging in the proactive and systematic examination of identified problems to develop and evaluate effective responses rigorously.

Mediating Citizen Complaints Against Police Officers: A Guide for Police and Community LeadersMediating Citizen Complaints Against Police Officers: A Guide For Police and Community Leaders

Abstract: This guide addresses the implementation, expectations, and evaluation of police/citizen mediation programs, as well as how to overcome obstacles to mediation, such as police and citizen resistance. Key issues discussed include eligibility, cultural barriers, and creating a level playing field. The guide provides examples of successful mediation processes for communities thinking about developing a mediation program.


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