Climbing into the passenger side of a patrol car, you position yourself beside your new partner, Bert Thompson. You have been working in the city jail as a detention officer since you graduated from the police academy three weeks ago. It is standard policy for your department to have new officers work inside prior to patrol duty.
“Name’s Bert. Bet you’re glad to get out of jail duty and onto some patrol,” Bert remarks with a big grin.
“Sure am. My name’s Warren,” you reply.
“OK, Warren, let’s go fight crime,” says Bert as he pulls out of the parking lot.
After driving a short distance, Bert breaks the silence.
“Warren, it’s almost eight-thirty and looks like our side of town is pretty slow this morning. How about a cup of coffee?”
“Fine, there’s a coffee shop over there,” you point out.
“No, no, not that place. Prices higher than a cat’s back. I know this doughnut place just up the road,” Bert says.
Bert pulls into a franchised coffee and doughnut shop and tells you to wait in the cruiser and monitor the calls from headquarters.
“How do you like your coffee, Warren?” Bert asks as he steps out of the car.
“Black,” you respond.
You see Bert through the large windows of the doughnut shop joking with one of the waitresses as he orders the coffee. You notice the waitress handing a large bag to Bert and begin to wonder how much coffee he bought.
“What did you do, buy out the whole place?” you ask as Bert climbs back into the cruiser.
“Well, I thought a few doughnuts wouldn’t hurt along with our coffee,” Bert says as he takes coffee cups from the bag.
“How much I owe you for mine?” you ask Bert.
“Not a thing. This was on the house, if you know what I mean,” Bert responds with a grin.
“They told us at the academy we weren’t supposed to take gratuities or anything like that,” you state, trying to remain objective.
“Look Warren, on the salaries we make and the type of work we do, it’s not a gratuity to take an occasional free ride. Most merchants in the community enjoy giving the cops a free meal or a discount now and then—it makes them feel like they can contribute. When we eat lunch today we’ll get that for free, too, or at least at a discount. Restaurant owners like to see cops in their establishments. It makes for good business.”
“Yeah, but what if they want something in return?” you ask.
“Warren, in twelve years of police work I’ve had maybe two or three ask me for a favor. Anyway, they weren’t big things—fixing tickets, and stuff like that,” Bert responds patiently.
Bert’s argument seems pretty convincing. After all, Bert says that everyone in the department does it to some extent, including the chief.
That night, as you prepare to go to your night class at the university, you check your work schedule for the next month and notice that you will be rotating to the 3–11 shift in three weeks. Rotating onto the afternoon-evening shift poses a problem for you. You are working on an associate’s degree at the university and are going to two night classes a week. Rotating to the 3–11 shift means that you will miss two weeks of classes. It is too late in the semester to drop the classes without penalty, so you decide to talk with the instructors concerning your problem. Your first instructor, Dr. Whitaker, was very understanding and provided you with a research paper assignment to make up for the lost time. You had one more instructor to contact.
“Dr. Rowland, I’m sorry but I’ve been switched over to an evening shift and I’ll have to miss the next couple of classes. Is there anything I can do to make up the work that I’ll miss?”
“Warren, your grades have been very good, but you know how I feel about student absenteeism. Unless you can work something out with your supervisor so that you can come to class, I would suggest that you withdraw from the course or face a serious grade reduction,” Dr. Rowland suggested.
You did not want to withdraw because you currently have an A in the course and the semester will be over in six more weeks. You decide to talk with your lieutenant and see if you can get your off-days changed.
“No way, Warren. You know the policy. Unless there’s illness or an emergency, we can’t change the schedule. It would screw up the whole shift,” the lieutenant explains.
A couple of days later you receive a phone call from Dr. Rowland.
“Warren, this is Tim Rowland. Did I wake you up?”
“No, Dr. Rowland, today is my day off. By the way, I guess I’ll try to stick with the class and take my chances. I wasn’t able to get my work sched-ule altered, but I figure I can take a C if I make all As and miss a couple of classes,” you explain.
“Warren, I’m not calling about that but, well, I need a favor. My son got his third speeding ticket in a year yesterday, and I was wondering if there was anything you could do to help.”
“Well, I don’t know, Dr. Rowland. Who gave your son the ticket?” you ask reluctantly.
“An Officer Thompson. Listen, if you can help, I would certainly appreciate it. I believe I could work out your class problem and give you a final grade for the work you have already accomplished. I believe you have an A in the course up to now,” Dr. Rowland adds.
“Officer Thompson” is your partner, Bert. It would be very easy to persuade Bert to fix the ticket and alleviate your problem with the class. By fixing the ticket you would be guaranteed an A for the course. On the other hand, you consider yourself a straight cop and not one to take payoffs. You wonder if it would be corrupt to fix the ticket. It does not really seem like such a big deal. Still, there was no mistaking what the instructor at the academy said.
Respond to the following questions. At least 2 pages of text are required in double-spaced, standard font.
- What should Warren do?
- Fixing the ticket for the teacher’s son seems to be the “easier” solution. Is there a potential downside to “fix the ticket, receive a good grade”?
- Is there a difference between accepting free coffee and donuts and fixing the ticket?
- What would be the most ethical course of action the officer could take? Could he also voice his concerns to a higher administrative authority?