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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 99264 Find in a Library
Title: Police Experimentation With Civilian Subjects - Formalizing the Informal (From Police Leadership in America, P 444-448, 1985, William A Geller, ed. - See NCJ-98325)
Author(s): K R Bergstrom
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: Praeger Publishers
Westport, CT 06881
Sale Source: Praeger Publishers
88 Post Road West
Westport, CT 06881
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper comments on (1) the utilitarian justification for potential harms in police program experiments, (2) policy issues raised by such experiments, and (3) the value of program experiments that force police managers to deal formally with ethical issues previously handled informally or not at all.
Abstract: The utilitarian ethical calculus that measures the morality of an action by whether its benefits outweigh its harms is a questionable principle for justifying police program experiments. The utilitarian ethical principle raises significant issues, such as who will set the criteria for measuring harms and benefits and whether the potential harms carry an absolute moral prohibition that makes the weight of benefits irrelevant. Other policy issues raised by police program experiments are (1) justifying experimentation on an issue in one community because the issue has been raised in other communities, (2) conducting an experiment when no significant institutional interest is involved, and (3) forcing an officer to participate in an experiment against his personal ethical judgment. Also, in cases where the researcher promises to terminate an experiment should unacceptable harms become evident, the criterion for unacceptable harm should be determined before starting the experiment. Finally, the ethical issue raised by an experiment forces police managers to deal formally with the ethics of selective or inequitable law enforcement and police services.
Index Term(s): Evaluative research; Police research; Professional conduct and ethics; Research methods
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