Code of Ethics
National Association for Civilian Oversight of
Law Enforcement: Code of Ethics
Civilian oversight practitioners have a unique role as public servants overseeing law enforcement agencies. The community, government, and law enforcement have entrusted them to conduct their work in a professional, fair and impartial manner. They earn this trust through a firm commitment to the public good, the mission of their agency, and the ethical and professional standards described herein.
The standards in the Code are intended to be of general application. It is recognized, however, that the practice of civilian oversight varies among jurisdictions and agencies, and additional standards may be necessary. The spirit of these ethical and professional standards should guide the civilian oversight practitioner in adapting to individual circumstances, and in promoting public trust, integrity and transparency.
Demonstrate the highest standards of personal integrity, commitment, truthfulness, and fortitude in order to inspire trust among your stakeholders, and to set an example for others. Avoid conflicts of interest. Conduct yourself in a fair and impartial manner and recuse yourself or personnel within your agency when a significant conflict of interest arises. Do not accept gifts, gratuities or favors that could compromise your impartiality and independence.
INDEPENDENT AND THOROUGH OVERSIGHT
Conduct investigations, audits, evaluations and reviews with diligence, an open and questioning mind, integrity, objectivity and fairness, in a timely manner. Rigorously test the accuracy and reliability of information from all sources. Present the facts and findings without regard to personal beliefs or concern for personal, professional, or political consequences.
TRANSPARENCY AND CONFIDENTIALITY
Conduct oversight activities openly and transparently, providing regular reports and analysis of your activities, and explanations of your procedures and practices to as wide an audience as possible. Maintain the confidentiality of information that cannot be disclosed and protect the security of confidential records.
RESPECTFUL AND UNBIASED TREATMENT
Treat all individuals with dignity and respect, and without preference or discrimination including, but not limited to: age, ethnicity, citizenship, color, culture, race, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, housing status, marriage, mental health, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or political beliefs, and all other protected classes.
OUTREACH AND RELATIONSHIPS WITH STAKEHOLDERS
Disseminate information and conduct outreach activity in the communities that you serve. Pursue open, candid, and non-defensive dialogue with your stakeholders. Educate and learn from the community.
AGENCY SELF-EXAMINATION AND COMMITMENT TO POLICY REVIEW
Seek continuous improvement in the effectiveness of your oversight agency, the law enforcement agency it works with, and their relations with the communities they serve. Gauge your effectiveness through evaluation and analysis of your work product. Emphasize policy review aimed at substantive organizational reforms that advance law enforcement accountability and performance.
Seek professional development to ensure competence. Acquire the necessary knowledge and understanding of the policies, procedures, and practices of the law enforcement agency you oversee. Keep informed of current legal, professional and social issues that affect the community, the law enforcement agency, and your oversight agency.
PRIMARY OBLIGATION TO THE COMMUNITY
At all times, place your obligation to the community, duty to uphold the law and to the goals and objectives of your agency above your personal self-interest.