1. What is the ethical issue or problem? Identify the issue succinctly.
The ethical issue develops when the truth is altered in the second or “signed off” report. The officer altered the report to state that they had actually witnessed the husband drive and park the car, although they had not.
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 fact that the first report had said the officers only felt the vehicle with a warm hood, and only witnessed the husband walk up to the home. Is the first report really had not been signed off it may have been because they would not have a case given that the officers did not witness the husband actually driving the vehicle. Given that, the husband would have won the case and socially and politically it would show weakness within the department, because the officers made an arrest without meeting certain criteria for arrest. The second report had stated different, that the officers witnessed the husband driving and park as they pulled up.
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 officers hope they will win the case of DWI, although they did not witness the husband driving. The husband
Hopes to stay out of jail and win the case against him since he was not witnessed driving while intoxicated. The wife
Hopes to keep her husband out of jail.
Hopes that criminal justice personnel and system will be able to keep offenders off the streets as to not cause harm to innocent citizens. prosecutor
Hopes to gain the truth of the matter as to not cause flaws in the justice system, and achieve absolute justice for all parties involved.
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
Keep report number one and not file charges against the husband. Follow through with report number two, and file charges against the husband. 5. Respond to the following questions based on your developed alternatives.
What are the best- and worst-case scenarios if you choose this alternative? Best-the husband will take this opportunity as a draw of luck and rehabilitate. The department and officers will not look bad for making an arrest without proper protocal. Worst- the husband continues to drive while intoxicated and harms another person, the first arrest may come to light and the prosecutor may be reprimanded for not perusing charges the first time Best-the husband will be taken off the streets and not allowed the opportunity to drive while intoxicated potentially causing harm to himself and others. Worst- the truth will come to light and prosecutors and police officers are reprimanded for not telling the truth to begin with. Will anyone be harmed if this alternative is chosen? If so, how will they be harmed? Consider families and derivative effects.
Yes, citizens can be harmed if accidents occur should the husband continue to drive while intoxicated. The wife may continue to be battered by the intoxicated husband. The family may be harmed if the husband is arrested and he is the only source of income. The department may be harmed should the truth be known. Would honor an idea or value— such as personal, professional, or religious—make the alternative invalid? Professionally it may allow for an intoxicated driver to be on the streets, causing public harm.
Professionally, religiously, and personally, it would be wrong to move forward with a falsified report.
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) Yes
Does this alternative result in using any person as a means to an end without consideration for his or her basic integrity? (Kant) Yes
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? Yes
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
Is any harm brought about by anyone other than the moral agent? (causal harm) Yes
Will anyone be harmed who can be said to be defenseless? (paternalism) Yes
To what degree is this alternative based on the moral agent’s own best interest? (ethical egoism)
Which alternative will generate the greatest benefit—or the least amount of harm—for the greatest number of people? Select only one alternative. (utilitarianism) Alternative number one generates the greatest benefit or least harm.
Ethical Decision Making
7. Choose to proceed with either Alternative A or Alternative B and explain the reasons for your decision. Alternative A allows the husband to make better choices, as well as keeps the police officers and the prosecutor from lying. The truth will be known and it will not make the police department look irresponsible for not taking proper steps to arrest with sufficient evidence.
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