Ethics and Public Safety

9 September 2016

Ethics and Public Safety Contemporary Public Safety Leadership PSF8601 USA Patriot Act I believe that ethics is very important in the public safety and should be considered heavily when planning operation, but I think that some polices that are established in the public safety sector, allows and promotes unethical behavior; for example the USA Patriot Act. The USA Patriot Act was passed by Congress as a response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Act allows federal officials greater authority in tracking and intercepting communications, both for purposes of law enforcement and foreign intelligence gathering.

It gives the Secretary of the Treasury regulatory powers to combat corruption of US financial institutions for foreign money-laundering purposes; it more actively works to close our borders to foreign terrorists and to detain and remove those within our borders; it establishes new crimes, new penalties and new procedural techniques for use against domestic and international terrorists (2001) The USA Patriot Act has become a vital part in the intelligence gathering and criminal investigation process.

Ethics and Public Safety Essay Example

But due to the offensive mindset that our nation is in, I believe that the USA Patriot Act has helped law enforcement agencies resort to using unethical practices such as racial profiling and harassment in order to seek out and eliminate the threat of terrorism. As stated by the ACLU, “Many parts of this sweeping legislation take away checks on law enforcement and threaten the very rights and freedoms that we are struggling to protect. For example, without a warrant and without probable cause, the FBI now has the power to access your most private medical records, your library records, and your student records…and can prevent anyone from telling you it was done” (2003). This legislation gives law enforcement the power to violate a person’s civil right which has been afforded to us by the 4th Amendment which states; “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”.

This act also allows for law enforcement to be very selective when targeting individuals; this has increased racial profiling among Arab and Muslim communities in Americans. Racial profiling is “a form of discrimination by which law enforcement uses a person’s race or cultural background as the primary reason to suspect that the individual has broken the law” (2009). In an article written by the ACLU, it stated that on May 26, 2004, Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller announced that the FBI would launch a new round of nationwide interviews in Muslim communities.

While neither official provided specifics, ABC News reported on May 28 that internal Justice Department sources confirmed that 5,000 Muslims and Arabs will be targeted for questioning based on religion and ethnicity, and not on individualized criminal suspicion (2004). The primary goals of the terrorist who committed the attacks on 9/11, were to make us change our way of life, to have us live in fear, and to cause harm to this great nation.

If we resort to racial profiling, harassment, and violating citizens’ rights in order to prevent terrorism, we are only helping them achieve their goals. We must remain focused and determined to protect our nation from terrorism, but also stay keen on our constitutional rights as well as the rights of others. So we can remain a free nation and maintain our way of life. Search for Evidence – Warrant Requirements During the gathering of intelligence, being able to search for evidence is sometime the hardest obstacle for an investigator.

This is due to the fact that most of the time the information they have already obtained during their gathering process may not be enough to fulfill the warrant requirements that are set forth by the Fourth Amendment, to conduct an search. Fenske argues that “warrants provide only marginal privacy-protection benefits while imposing real costs on domestic intelligence gathering—defined as intelligence gathering designed to thwart threats with no foreign connections” (2008).

He goes on to say that “reasonableness inherently involves the weighing of various interests on both sides of an issue and can therefore take into account the waxing and waning of threats posed against the United States. Thus, an intrusive search designed to prevent a terrorist attack might be reasonable, but the same search using the same means solely to investigate a crime that has already been committed might be unreasonable. Once the Fourth Amendment applies to a particular search or seizure, the next question is under what circumstances is a warrant required.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution expresses a preference for searches, seizures, and arrests conducted pursuant to a lawfully executed warrant (Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U. S. 385 [1978]). A warrant is a written order signed by a court authorizing a law-enforcement officer to conduct a search, seizure, or arrest. Searches, seizures, and arrests performed without a valid warrant are deemed presumptively invalid, and any evidence seized without a warrant will be suppressed unless a court finds that the search was reasonable under the circumstances.

An application for a warrant must be supported by a sworn, detailed statement made by a law enforcement officer appearing before a neutral judge or magistrate. The Supreme Court has said that probable cause exists when the facts and circumstances within the police officer’s knowledge provide a reasonably trustworthy basis for a man of reasonable caution to believe that a criminal offense has been committed or is about to take place (Carroll v. United States, 267 U. S. 132 [1925]).

Probable cause can be established by out-of-court statements made by reliable police informants, even though those statements cannot be tested by the magistrate. However, probable cause will not lie where the only evidence of criminal activity is an officer’s affirmation of suspicion or belief (Aguilar v. Texas, 378 U. S. 108 [1964]). On the other hand, an officer’s subjective reason for making an arrest does not need to be the same criminal offense for which the facts indicate. (Devenpeck v.Alford, 543 U. S. 146) Surveillance and Wiretapping- Right to privacy The right to privacy is not a part of the Constitution, at least not in so many words. The right to privacy would best be seen in the 9th Amendment, which basically says that just because a right is not in the Constitution, does not necessarily mean that it does not exist. The justices of the Supreme Court, in several cases over the past half century, have found that a right to privacy does exist in the Constitution, to a degree.

Lisa Graves wrote that “some have suggested abandoning the concept of privacy, having long lamented the death of privacy; some radical theorists have argued it was never born in the first place” (2010). Same as with searches and seizures, in theory, this type of intelligence-gathering activity requires a warrant. But with the passing of the USA Patriot Act, it helped investigators to be able to conduct this activity with having to get a warrant. The USA Patriot Act was passed by Congress as a response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The Act allows federal officials greater authority in tracking and intercepting communications, both for purposes of law enforcement and foreign intelligence gathering. It gives the Secretary of the Treasury regulatory powers to combat corruption of US financial institutions for foreign money-laundering purposes; it more actively works to close our borders to foreign terrorists and to detain and remove those within our borders; it establishes new crimes, new penalties and new procedural techniques for use against domestic and international terrorists.

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