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Jul 17th, 2015
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(Amber) week 4 discussion 1

Ethical Policing

Read the following case study and answer the questions below.

Sergeant Tom Gresham is newly promoted and assigned to patrol on the graveyard shift. He knows each officer on his shift, and several of them are his close friends. You are his patrol lieutenant. Gresham is an excellent patrol officer and prides himself on his reputation and ability to get along with his peers. He believes that doing so will result in greater productivity from his officers, and he makes efforts to socialize with them after work.  Gresham also believes that a supervisor should not “get in the way of good police work” and his officer’s say he is a “cop’s cop.”  In his view, his duty shift officers perform very well, generating the highest number of arrests and citations in the entire department. Unfortunately, his shift is also generating the highest number of citizen complaints for abusive language and improper use of force. Gresham believes that such complaints are “the price of doing business.” One Monday morning, Gresham is surprised at being summoned to your office. You show Gresham a substantial number of use-of-force complaints lodged against his officers during the past two weeks.  Despite your best effort to explain the gravity of the situation and the fact that Internal Affairs may become involved, Gresham fails to grasp the seriousness of the complaints and how his supervisory style may have contributed to them.  

Answer these questions pertaining to how you would handle this situation:

  • What do you believe are some of Sergeant Gresham’s problems as a new supervisor? Could anything have been done before he assumed his new position to help him understand his role better? If so, what?
  • As Gresham’s superior officer, what advice would you give him? Are there any other supervisory or command officers who you should ask to be involved in dealing with this situation? Who and why?
  • What corrective action must Sergeant Gresham take immediately with his team of officers? Why?

Our discussion first, individuals response, tell good and bad of post, list reference

One of the problems with Sergeant Gresham as a new supervisor is that he acts as though he is still “one of the guys”, rather than someone who is in a supervisory position. Another problem that was noticed about him is that he does not see that there may be a problem with the way he and the officers have behaved with the members of the community.

I do believe that something could have been done before he assumed his new position as a sergeant. The first thing that could have been done is that the department could have conducted an assessment of who might be the best fit for the position. The second thing that could have been done is that Gresham should have attended a course designed for the transition of being an officer to becoming a supervisor.

The advice that I would give is that he would need to be accountable for not only his actions, but the actions of those who are under his supervision. According to Peak (2012), the term accountability could also include that the police officers “will not use more force than necessary” and “ensuring that all officers are well trained to meet the highest standards of professionalism” (p. 324). He would also be told that even though his shift has a high number of arrests, they also have a large number of complaints regarding use of force and abusive language. He would be advised that continuing to have a high number of complaints would result in training. If the complaints persisted after the training, there would be disciplinary action taken.

The corrective action that Sergeant Gresham must take immediately is that he should counsel the team as a way to make known what his expectations are as a leader and the direction he may take if they are found to be acting inappropriately. He may also follow the advice given and request that the team members attend training on ethics and use of force.

Peak, K. (2012). Policing America: Challenges and Best Practices (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Prentice Hall.

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