By Michael Josephson

I. PERFORMANCE OF ALL ASPECTS OF POLICING MISSION. An exemplary policing organization ethically, effectively and efficiently performs all four aspects of the policing mission:

    1. Upholding the law and ensuring public safety by:
      • Enforcing criminal laws, local ordinances and traffic regulations equitably and respectfully.
      • Preserving peace and public order by controlling crowds and eliminating public nuisances and disturbances of the peace.
      • Protecting life and property whenever they are endangered by criminal conduct, traffic accidents, natural disasters, terrorist attacks or other causes.
    2. Enhancing the quality of community life by:
      • Providing community education, problem-solving and anti-gang/anti-drug activities to prevent crime and other socially harmful conduct by addressing the causes of anti-social behavior and conditions that breed such behavior.
      • Reducing the fear of crime by fostering an environment in which people feel free, safe and confident in the ability of police agencies to protect and serve them.
      • Solving community problems and implementing solutions in collaboration with other agencies.
    3. Upholding individual liberties and rights by:
      • Protecting constitutionally guaranteed liberties and assuring all actions meet the standards of due process of law.
      • Demonstrating the highest respect for human rights and dignity by treating all people with respect and by violating privacy and using force only when reasonable and only to the extent necessary to accomplish a proper policing purpose.
    4. Generating and maintaining public trust by continually and consciously assuring that all policing actions are conducted in a manner that sustains and enhances the credibility of the policing agency and all its officers.

II. EXEMPLARY PERSONNEL. An exemplary policing organization employs and retains only people who possess the four core qualities of the Exemplary Peace Officer:

    1. Character
    2. Proficiency
    3. Professionalism
    4. Leadership

III. VALUES-BASED ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE. An exemplary policing organization creates and sustains a values-based culture by articulating, prominently promoting and consistently enforcing adherence to its mission and values. This applies to all policing activities and community relations.

IV. TRUST-FOCUSED. An exemplary policing organization explicitly and pervasively promotes throughout the organization the idea that public trust, support and cooperation are essential to its ability to effectively fulfill its mission. The organization seeks to justify that trust among both external (community) and internal constituencies by expecting and requiring all policing employees to conduct themselves in a manner that builds trust in the agency’s intentions, integrity and competence.

V. POSITIVE POLICE-COMMUNITY RELATIONS. An exemplary policing organization establishes and maintains positive relations with all major segments of the community by creating and participating in collaborative efforts to solve community problems. The organization continually seeks to improve the quality of its service, thereby enhancing its credibility with the community.

VI. ETHICS-BASED DECISION MAKING. An exemplary policing organization engenders in all employees commitment to the core ethical values embodied in trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, caring, fairness and good citizenship. It encourages and expects all employees to demonstrate moral courage to do what is right even when it is personally costly or subjects the organization to criticism or liability.

VII. VALUES-BASED RISK MANAGEMENT PROGRAM. An exemplary policing organization creates and maintains a comprehensive values-based risk-management program that:

    1. Is based on clear, practical, effective and fair policies and practices to identify, prevent and detect illegal, unethical and unprofessional conduct.
    2. Assures that, if improper conduct occurs, prompt and appropriate remedial actions are taken to prevent future misconduct and to protect and enhance the agency’s credibility and reputation.

VIII. ACCOUNTABILITY. In an exemplary policing organization, leaders and all those who act for the organization are expected and required to hold themselves and those they work with accountable to prevent and report illegal, unethical, unprofessional or irresponsible conduct that could damage the organization’s credibility or undermine public trust.


Michael Josephson is the founder and president of Josephson Institute and the author of Becoming an Exemplary Peace Officer: An Introduction to Peace Officer Training and Becoming an Exemplary Peace Officer:The Guide to Ethical Decision Making written in collaboration with the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. The publications augment the Institute’s Honoring the Badge professional-development initiative for peace officers and administrators. For more information, call 800-711-2670 or view our schedule of upcoming seminars.

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