The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is implementing an ethics and leadership program called Ethics That Help Officers Succeed (ETHOS). According to the founder, ETHOS is “intended to promote ethics and leadership training combined with mental strategies to survive the complexities of modern day policing.” Police officers are scrutinized more and more for their decision making, character, and ethics. The integrity of our criminal justice system lies on the professional officers who maintain strong ethics. This article is about the ETHOS program and will serve to remind law enforcement professionals of the importance of ethical fitness.
In our constantly changing profession (and I believe law enforcement has changed more in the past three years than it has in the last several years), the public’s expectation of the police is at a much higher level. We hear a lot of dialogue regarding trust between law enforcement and the citizens we serve. There is no doubt public trust has diminished. ETHOS was developed by a professional law enforcement officer who saw a need and had the courage to act on it. It is a heavily researched project through graduate level studies.
The Sheriff’s Office began implementing the ETHOS program in 2016. The program begins with a pre-survey for sworn deputies, supervisors, and managers, which provides a baseline assessment on demographics, education, race, military service, current relationships, and years of service. The survey covers knowledge-based questions to determine familiarity with terminology such as the continuum of compromise, and ethical fitness. It asks ethics-based questions, leadership questions, and perception-based questions regarding leadership and subordinate development.
Next, a 3-4 hour block of instruction is given on ethics and leadership that provides officers with mental strategies to survive the complex law enforcement environment. Last, a post-survey will be conducted to determine if any behaviors have been changed.
The ETHOS program will assist law enforcement officers in dealing with the stress and unforeseen challenges they encounter when faced with ethical dilemmas. The Oregon Criminal Justice Code of Ethics states: “I recognize my position as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it, as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of the Criminal Justice System.” I believe the ETHOS program will not only help build public trust, but it will hold officers true to their commitment and responsibility to the criminal justice system.
Thank you for your support.
Sheriff Corey Falls