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A code of ethics is generally a broader conceptual statement of expected agency goals and officer conduct.
However, running afoul of your department’s ethical code can have as much potential impact upon an officer’s career as a violation of a departmental regulation.
I no longer accept the premise that a department’s code of ethics is a guideline for officers; that it is, in the words of Shakespeare, “A police department’s “code of ethics” usually exists separately from the formalized set of rules and regulations studied in the academy.
Running afoul of your department’s ethical code can have as much potential impact upon an officer’s career as a violation of a departmental regulation.
When the rules and regulations start to invade the personal privacy of an officer, a reviewing court’s scrutiny is magnified.
A married female police officer was disciplined for having an affair with a married officer from another department while attending a training conference.
The affair was reported by her estranged husband who went to great lengths – including false accusations of an affair between her and her police chief – to discredit the professional reputation of his spouse.
If there is a reasonable relation to the information sought and the government’s interests the inquiry will be upheld. §1983, alleging civil rights violation on the part of the City which sought a list from every city employee of all city properties they owned.
Barring that, a personal inquiry with no bearing on a legitimate government interest would be disallowed. 1556 (WDNY, 1984), the president of the Rochester Police union sued under 42 U. Due to the disrepair of numerous properties within the city and concerns over urban decay, the city sought the list since its Code of Ethics prevented any city employee from owning property in violation of municipal or state laws.