1. What is the ethical issue or problem? Identify the issue succinctly. There are two problem in the law enforcement scenario. The officers know that in order to arrest an individual for driving while under the influence, the must have seen the individual driving the vehicle in which they did not. The second, to arrest an individual for domestic violence, the officers must have either observed the assault or the victim must injuries that visible. What are the officers to do when there training and experience is telling them that the individual was drinking and driving and the 911 operator indicated the domestic violence has taken place? The officers do not have enough proof for either problem they face.
2. What are the most important facts? Which facts have the most bearing on the ethical decision presented? Include any important potential economic, social, or political pressures, and exclude inconsequential facts.
The wife call the police to report domestic violence. When he officers arrived, they saw the husband stumbling into the house and dropped something which looked like car keys. The officers saw one car on the road which was still warm. The husband is slurring his words and has other objective symptoms of intoxication. The husband has failed the field sobriety tests which revealed his alcohol level was .20. If the officers arrest the husband because they believe he was driving under the influence, the conviction will be thrown out since the officers did not observe him driving. If the officers arrest the husband for domestic violence, the case will also be thrown out because they did not witness an assault and there are no visible injuries. If the officers arrest the husband on their faith that the case will stick they can risk disciplinary actions.
3. Identify each claimant (key actor) who has an interest in the outcome of this ethical issue. From the perspective of the moral agent—the individual contemplating an ethical course of action—what obligation is owed to the claimant? Why? Claimant
Obligation (owed to the claimant)
Perspective (What does the claimant hope will happen?)
The wife does not need the officers assistance, hopes they believe her story and do nothing to her husband Husband
The husband will prefer that the cops ignore the situation and not arrest him Officer Nixon and Rook
Officer Nixon hopes that the wife or husband will confess to the domestic violence and or driving under the influence so he can arrest the husband and get him away from the wife Society
The society would prefer the husband pay restitution for the crimes the husband committed
4. What are two alternatives for the scenario? One alternative can be a wild card that you ordinarily may not consider an option because of potential implications. Both should be within free will and control of the same moral agent. Alternative A
Warn the husband- Talk to the husband and wife separately and offer to help them get into AA and DM classes and seek treatment for alcoholism. Arrest the husband for DUI and Domestic Violence
5. Respond to the following questions based on your developed alternatives.
What are the best- and worst-case scenarios if you choose this alternative?
Giving the husband a warning and options to get help might deter the crime.
The husband will be removed from the wife and she will no longer be subject to his abuse. If he is not arrested, it is just a matter of time before they are back on the same call but worst. Will anyone be harmed if this alternative is chosen? If so, how will they be harmed? Consider families and derivative effects.
Yes, I believe that society might be harmed if the offender decided to continue driving and driving. Also, the wife may still be a subject of his domestic violence.
Would honoring an idea or value—such as personal, professional, or religious—make the alternative invalid?
Law enforcement officers would prefer to arrest the individual instead of giving him a warning.
Are there any rules, laws, or principles that support the alternative? Are there rules, laws, or principles that make the alternative invalid? State the rule or principle and indicate if it invalidates or supports the alternative.
If officers were to use their discretion when warning individuals with petty offenders, they will not be breaking the law.
Law enforcement officers are here to enforce the law and arrest those who are breaking the law. However; in order to arrest those that are breaking the law, there has to be probable cause or the case will not hold up in court.
Applying Ethical Guidelines
6. Consider each ethical guideline and explain whether it would support or reject your alternative. Guidelines based on the action itself
Should this alternative become a rule or policy that everyone in this situation should follow in similar situations in the future? (Kant) No because each situation is not going to be the same.
Does this alternative result in using any person as a means to an end without consideration for his or her basic integrity? (Kant) no
Is the intent of this action free from vested interest or ulterior motive? (Kant’s good will) yes
Does this alternative demonstrate a genuine concern for others affected by the decision, and is the moral agency responding to a perceived need? no
Yes, it shows they care about the victim and her safety.
Guidelines based on consequences
Is the good that results from this alternative outweighed by the potential harm that might be done to others? (Mill’s harm principle) No. Even though the officers are doing the right thing, if the husband decides to go back driving, he can harm others. yes
Is any harm brought about by anyone other than the moral agent? (causal harm) The wife is bringing more verbal and physical harm to herself by not Learning Needs Assessment
Will anyone be harmed who can be said to be defenseless? (paternalism)
Yes, the wife can be harmed once the officers leave.
To what degree is this alternative based on the moral agent’s own best interest? (ethical egoism) The officers came to help in the situation but their help was denied. If the officers had enough proof to the offenses, they could have arrested the husband which would be in the wife’s best interest. Which alternative will generate the greatest benefit—or the least amount of harm—for the greatest number of people? Select only one alternative. (utilitarianism) According to laws, this alternative is the best course of action.
Ethical Decision Making
7. Choose to proceed with either Alternative A or Alternative B and explain the reasons for your decision.
Although Alternative B would be my decision since it is obvious that the husband was driving under the influence and abusing his wife, to follow the law, alternative A is the correct course of action. Even though alternative B is what most want to do, it is considered illegal and will be unethical of the officers.