Law Enforcement

8 August 2016

Officer Nixon, a 20-year veteran, and Officer Rook, who has only been on the force for less than a year, respond to a reported domestic violence call. When they get there they observe a man staggering up the walkway to the residence. He drops something and bends down to pick it up. The officers notice the man holding what appears to be a set of car keys and then see him put the keys in his pocket before he reaches the front door. As the officers park their vehicle, the man opens the door and enters the residence. The two officers exit their vehicle and approach the front door.

The only car on the street is a blue station wagon. Officer Nixon touches the hood of the station wagon and discovers it is still warm to the touch. Before they reach the door, a woman opens it and greets them. She tells the police that she called them because she and her husband had a verbal argument and when he left the house she became worried about him. Now that he is home, she states, she no longer needs their services. She denies being hit despite the dispatcher’s indications to the contrary. No injuries are visible.

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The husband joins his wife at the door and the police ask him some questions to corroborate his wife’s story. The police notice that he is slurring his words and has other objective symptoms of intoxication. They ask the man if he had been driving. The husband and wife exchange nervous glances and the wife says that he has not. The husband then tells the officer that he went for a walk around the block to cool off. The couple admits that they only own one vehicle and it is the blue station wagon parked on the street in front of the residence.

The wife states that she has not driven the car all day. The husband states that he parked the car there when he returned home from work four hours ago. They ask him to empty his pockets. In his front pocket are a set of keys. He tells the officers that he put the keys in his pocket when he came home from work and he hasn’t taken them out since. The husband fails to perform satisfactorily when field sobriety tests are administered. A preliminary alcohol screening device reveals that the husband’s blood alcohol level is . 20, twice the legal limit.

In this jurisdiction, to arrest someone for a misdemeanor charge of driving while under the influence, the police must actually observe the individual driving the vehicle; anything less results in the conviction being thrown out. Officer Nixon, based on his training and experience, is convinced that the husband was driving the car immediately before they pulled up to the residence. To arrest for domestic violence, the officers must either observe an assault or the victim must have visible injuries. What should the officers do? 11. The ethical issue is whether it is legal to arrest the man for either DUI or domestic violence.

2. The officers responded to a domestic violence call. There is evidence the man is intoxicated; that his car was driven recently, and that he dropped his car keys on approaching the front door, suggesting he had been driving. 3. Claimants: husband, wife. Police obligation to wife is justice, since she claimed violence by the husband. The obligation to the husband is beneficence, but he does not deserve it. 4. Three alternatives for police are: arrest husband for DUI; arrest husband for domestic violence; do nothing. (1)-Arrest husband for DUI: best case scenario: he is charged and license suspended.

Worst case scenario: case dismissed for lack of evidence. (2)-Arrest husband for domestic violence: best case scenario: he is charged and jailed for offense. Worst case scenario: case dismissed for lack of evidence. (3)-Do nothing: Best case scenario: nothing further happens. Worst case scenario: husband continues to abuse wife; husband drives while under the influence and kills/injures someone. Question-Will anyone be harmed by this alternative: 1) No; 2) No; 3) possibly wife and others Question-Would honoring any ideal invalidate this alternative? 1) Yes, not legal. 2) Yes, not legal. 3) Yes, not moral.

Anything to support or invalidate this alternative: 1) Cannot arrest someone for DUI without evidence; 2) Cannot arrest someone for domestic violence without evidence; 3) No. 5. Ethical Guidelines Alternative 1 Alternative 2 Alternative 3 Guidelines based on consequences Is good outweighed by potential harm Yes Yes No Is any harm brought about by anyone other than moral agent No No Yes Will anyone who is defenseless by harmed No No Yes To what degree is this alternative based on moral agent’s best interest? To what degree is this alternative based on organization’s best interest? 0 100 0 100 0 0

Which alternative will generate the greatest benefit or least harm for greatest number of people? X Guidelines based on the action itself Should this alternative become a rule that everyone should follow? No No No Does this alternative result in using any person as a means to an end without considering his/her basic integrity No No No Is the intent of the action free from vested interest or ulterior motive No No No Describe character of person adopting this alternative attributing a positive virtue juxtaposed with its negative counterpart. Altruistic/ unethical altruistic/ unethical practical/ dishonest

Does this alternative demonstrate a genuine concern for others affected by the decision and/or is the moral agent responding to a perceived need. Yes Yes No 6. The officers must do nothing. They have no evidence of DUI or domestic violence, and so there is no point in arresting the man as his case would be thrown out of court. The best they can do is give him a warning. 7. Although there was evidence that domestic abuse had taken place because the wife called to report it, in this jurisdiction there must be visible injuries to the victim for an officer to arrest a person for domestic violence.

As to the DUI charge, a police officer must actually observe the individual driving the vehicle while under the influence to arrest them for a misdemeanor charge of driving while under the influence, otherwise the conviction will be thrown out. Even though the man was obviously intoxicated, and his car engine was still warm, we did not actually see him driving so could not arrest him. In this case, we had no choice but to give him a warning on both counts and let him go.

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