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Justice In Law Enforcement

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Justice in Law Enforcement

The true concept of justice is a concept involving moral, fair, and impartial treatment of all individuals. Justice is a concept that has many different translations and a concept that can be changed on a case-by-case basis. Justice, as it pertains to law enforcement, is an example of the many faces of justice and how it can be subjective. Conceptually, justice is synonymous with law enforcement. Within this profession, justice can be defined as the ability to treat perpetrators and all individuals encountered, while on the job, with the highest quality of fairness.

In order for law enforcement to promote a universal definition of justice, officers must possess the moral ability to lawfully enforce laws of the land and adhere to the honor expressed by the department and its mission. Officers must maintain a temperament that is deemed by the organization as "honorable" and "morally" right. Justice also encompasses officers respecting and upholding the rights of all individuals, while on and off the job and giving perpetrators what they deserve within the rules of the law. Impartiality must be a major aspect of justice and law enforcement.

Justice can also be viewed as subjective in law enforcement practices, creating various ways it is administered. At times, because law enforcement professionals have to handle situations on a case-by-case basis, the definition of justice varies among individuals within this field. While on the street, officers have a considerable amount of control and may exercise their ability to determine how justice should be administered at any time. Dependant on the officer's personal ethical standards practices of prejudice, slanted judgment, and unfair choices can demean the department's implied definition of justice. The use of subjective justice in law enforcement is very prominent. Biased decisions occur daily, leaving law enforcement open to interpret justice in its own way and to shape it into what is acceptable in the situation at hand. Law Enforcement Practices and Justice

Law enforcement encompasses many ways justice is applied to everyday practices that reserve the rights of the perpetrator and are dictated by laws. Several examples of this are probable cause, search warrants, and the Miranda rule. By law people have the right to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures and a warrant shall not be issued except on probable cause (Tetu, 2004). Probable cause is a clear example of procedural law and how law enforcement should handle searches and seizures, and arrests when pursuing individuals suspected of criminal behavior. It protects from arbitrary intrusions into the privacy and liberties of individuals. Using this practice, justice is exhibited because the Fourteenth Amendment rights of the individuals are not violated by unlawful behavior by law enforcement. Although, probable cause attempts to reserve these rights, there are exceptions to this rule that allow law enforcement to exercise such things as reasonable suspicion.

Search warrants are used in combination with probable cause in order to obtain objects or materials at a definite location and at a definite time. Many times warrants are very direct in the items that can be searched for and seized. Convincing a judge or magistrate that probable cause exists, law enforcement may obtain a search warrant to a place or for a person. Search warrants are used to protect individuals from unlawful searches of person and property. By law, an individual has the expectation of privacy and should not have their rights violated without the proper practices exercised by law enforcement. Even though search warrants are commonly needed to search and seize, evidence or contraband in "plain view" of an officer can be confiscated without the use of a warrant. This is an exception to the search warrant philosophy and may be exercised by the officer at any time.

The Miranda rule is another form of justice practiced by law enforcement when performing arrests. Miranda is a rule defined by the United States Supreme Court that is based on the fifth and sixth amendments. It refers to an individual, in the custody of the law, being questioned with prior warning of their rights. When officers use the Miranda rule, individuals are warned of their right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Officers also advise the individual anything they say can be used against them in a court of law. This rule is used as a protection mechanism for individuals who feel obligated to respond to police questioning without understanding consequences this may pose.

These forms of practices by law enforcement promote justice by regarding an individual's rights. Upholding such laws, allows law enforcement to administer justice in the manner in which it is intended by law. Because there are exceptions to the rules, many may feel these practices do not demonstrate justice. Although laws are set in placed to protect citizens, exceptions allow law enforcement and government to flex their muscles when needed.

Changes in Law Enforcement after September 11, 2001

In the wake of September 11, 2001 the United States opened its eyes to the need for new and improved policies that addressed terrorism and homeland security. Law enforcement experienced many changes in their operations and methods of response to such tragic events. The creation of The National Strategy for Homeland Security evoked a federal policy change that included the focus on many issues that were not visible prior to September 11, 2001. The National Strategy for Homeland Security emphasizes the various types of terrorism and the country's planned approach to possible terrorist attacks. In detail, the strategy discusses mission areas at both the state and the federal levels (White, 2004).

As a final policy response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, U.S. Government continued to create further policies to aide in the country's task at hand. The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, also known as the USA PATRIOT Act was introduced, that focused on many issues. The policy encompasses the need to have laws in place that would help recognize threats of terrorism through surveillance and investigative powers of law enforcement agencies in the country (USA PATRIOT Act). The USA PATRIOT Act statutes allow law enforcement agencies, with warrants, to gain access to homes, phone calls, bank accounts, and personal computer information of any individual it deems a reasonable suspect of terrorism. The statutes are based on the importance of allowing law enforcement agencies the ability to investigate and monitor individuals who may have potential vendettas

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