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Phl 323 Code of Conduct

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By abvaaron216
Words 1664
Pages 7
Code of Conduct
Aaron Vazquez
PHL 323
May 12, 2014
Alex Cardenas

Code of Conduct
The United States Border Patrol is a federal law enforcement agency and is one of the largest in the world. The purpose of the Border Patrol is to keep terrorists and the weapons terrorists use out of the nation’s borders. In addition, the Border Patrol also serves to ensure that international and trade is conducted in a lawful way (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2014). As a federal agency, the Border Patrol is under high public scrutiny. A federal agent that is accused of unethical behavior will be in the national spotlight, and it will discredit the entire agency, no matter how isolated the incident may have been. Thus, with any federal agency, the employees of the Border Patrol are held to a higher standard than other employees are. If the hiring process is to be used as a measure of how high the standards are for Border Patrol employees, then it should be no surprise that only the most qualified individuals are accepted (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2014). A thorough background investigation is conducted on any potential agent to ensure that the candidate is loyal to the United States. The Border Patrol’s Mission Statement (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2014) makes it clear that the Border Patrol serves “the American Public with vigilance, integrity and professionalism.” In addition, the agency lists as a core value that of service to country, noting that the American people puts its trust in the Border Patrol to protect their home. Because the Border Patrol has a duty to protect the citizens of the United States and its borders, the Border Patrol has a very strong deontological ethical system in place.
The Border Patrol’s Standards of Conducts includes the policies and expectations of its employees in their behavior, and the authority under which those policies should be enforced. The document (Aguilar, 2012) makes it clear that the Border Patrol expects all of its employees to act with a sense of duty to the United States and the protection of its borders. Thus, the ethical system in place for the Border Patrol is duty-based, or deontology. In paragraph three of the Standards of Conduct, Aguilar, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) (2012), writes that CBP employees must act with a sense of responsibility for the public trust and with loyalty to the United States. Serving one’s country to the best of one’s ability, he reasons, is an obligation that an employee of the federal government should have. In addition, Aguilar writes in the policies that, as federal employees, there are certain expectations even when an employee is not working “on the clock.” Federal employees are always a representation of the United States government as a whole, and, fair or not, employees have a duty to represent the government in the best possible way. Thus, it is morally right for a CBP employee to not only protect the citizens of the United States, but not to embarrass the same with conduct that is unbecoming of the United States or its employees.
Employees are held to this standard because of the sheer responsibility that comes with protecting the nation’s borders. Agents have a dangerous job, and some agents have been killed by dangerous criminals who are trying to smuggle illegal drugs and weapons into the nation (My Border Patrol Job, 2013). The standards of conduct are in place so employees act in a safe manner; agents have access to their own dangerous weapons, but there are standards for when they can be used. This might seem counterproductive, as agents should be able to defend themselves if they perceive themselves in danger; but it also serves to protect them from a public that will scrutinize an agent’s every move should an investigation be needed in any incident. In addition, it also allows for employees to work in an enviornment that is safe from abuse, whether in the form of sexual harrassment from supervisors or intimidation tactics. The standards of conduct applies to employees 24 hours a day, as outlined in paragraph 6.1 (Aguilar, 2012), which states “Employees will not engage, on or off-duty in … conduct prejudicial to the government.” Again, this serves to not only protect the agency, but the employee; should an employee be caught doing corrupt behavior, it would discredit the entire CBP, and the general public will greatly magnify the act when it is brought to light a law enforcement officer was engaged in illegal activities.
Managers of CPB employees are held to the same standards of conduct as their employees. In addition, according to paragraph 5.5 of the standards of conduct (Augilar, 2012), they are also charged with providing advice and guidance to the employees under their command, and they must also clear any confusion those employees might have with the document. Thus, managers are not only expected to know the standards of conduct, but must be able to pass judgement on what is ethical in the context of the document. Because the standards are always applicable to employees, managers must be available to serve as mentors to their employees around the clock as well. While it could be argued that the standards are ridiculously high, the organizational culture of the Border Patrol is similar to the military. It is expected that federal agents are held to a higher standard due to their duty to the nation. Blogger Tom Barry (2013), though critical of the culture of the Border Patrol and likens the culture to that of the military, writes that “[agents] only have to listen to President Obama” to maintain their delusions that they are performing their duty. As a manager, the ethical decision is already provided by higher-ups; when the culture demands that obligation to duty is not an option, it can easily leave grey areas or cause of unease between individuals whose ethical systems are different from those of the CBP.
As the commissioner of the Border Patrol, the standards of conduct must evolve along with public opinion of the agency. If the public doesn’t trust the Border Patrol because of the practices the organization does, the distrust will only serve to make performing necessary duties harder. It becomes even more necessary when reports of the Border Patrol having a “culture of cruelty” (Lozano, 2011) surfaces and accuses the entire organization of corrupt practices in the name of law enforcement. Reports such as these, which claim that, consistently every year, thousands of people claim they suffer from abuse at the hands of Border Patrol agents, damage the credibility of the Border Patrol. The changes that should be made, then, are not policies that include what agents can or cannot do while on duty, because those are already put in place, but standards of what the public affairs can state to the public in order to regain the trust of citizens that might have a negative opinion of the Border Patrol. In addition, ethical standards must change to avoid profiling; recently, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the Border Patrol to obtain data on interregations made by Border Patrol and why they pull citizens over as many as 100 miles away from a border crossing (By Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services, 2014). The ACLU accuses Border Patrol officers of “[using] race to decide whom to stop” which is both unethical and illegal. Thus, changes in the standards of conduct must make it plain what the penalties are for not abiding by the standards set forth by Assistant Commissioner Aguilar, something that is absent from the document (2012); there is a mention that there are indeed penalties in paragraph 5.7, but curiously, those penalties are not actually listed in the document.
In conclusion, the Border Patrol is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the world charged with the responsibility of protecting the American homeland. Thus, the standards for employees in the Border Patrol are higher than they would be for an average worker that is not working for the government of the United States. The standards are formed at the highest office of the Border Patrol, and employees must carry them out, thus forming a duty-based ethical system. Employees of the Border Patrol are subject to the standards of conduct 24 hours a day, whether they are on duty or not. Managers must know the standards and be able to apply judgment and clarification of the standards while abiding and enforcing those standards. Finally, at the very top of the structure, the commissioner and public affairs office must create the standards in an effort to have the trust of the American citizens they are responsible for protecting, which is necessary for any law enforcement agency.

References
Aguilar, D. V. (2012, March). U.S. Customs and Border Protection Standards of Conduct. Retrieved from http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/std_of_conduct_3.pdf
Barry, T. (2013, January). Border Patrol Culture and Its Unhinged Strategy. Retrieved from Border Lines: http://borderlinesblog.blogspot.com/2013/01/border-patrol-culture-and-its-unhinged_10.html
Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services. (2014, April). ACLU sues to get Border Patrol documents. Retrieved from Arizona Daily Star: http://azstarnet.com/news/local/border/aclu-sues-to-get-border-patrol-documents/article_40188b77-30de-5b3d-88ce-05a04dd2db57.html
My Border Patrol Job. (2013). Pros and Cons of Being a Border Patrol Agent. Retrieved from Your Online U.S. Border Patrol Career and Training Headquarters: http://myborderpatroljob.com/pros-and-cons-of-being-a-border-patrol-agent
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2014, March). About CBP. Retrieved from U.S. Customers and Border Protection: http://www.cbp.gov/about
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2014, May). Background Investigation Process and Polygraph Examination FAQs. Retrieved from U.S. Customs and Border Protection: http://www.cbp.gov/careers/join-cbp/which-career/apply/background-investigation

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