In addition to working on stressful cases, police officers frequently deal with internal conflicts on the job, and the hazards of this hostile work environment are often hidden. Reporting misconduct or corruption in a workplace is difficult enough, and law enforcement officers and staff encounter an additional set of barriers that make it even more challenging to speak up.
Law Enforcement and the Unofficial Code
When officers begin training, they relinquish a part of their individuality to serve the department. A “police family” forms and often leads to an environment where telling the truth can be viewed as “snitching” and disloyal. Most individuals who join law enforcement want to protect the public and value a strong commitment to justice and morality. Sometimes, however, incidents of discrimination and harassment can be hidden or buried. Moreover, when superior officers use power and authority to threaten and pressure colleagues to hide these incidents, this can lead to severe and unlawful consequences.
Sometimes called the “blue code” or “blue wall of silence,” some departments may enforce unofficial rules that prevent police officers from reporting errors, retaliation, or even crimes. An officer may witness blatant cover-ups of employee discrimination or misappropriation of funds. Although most officers are committed to right versus wrong, it may run high up the chain to protect the department’s reputation.
Whistleblowers may feel powerless and be fearful to speak out. When going up against the long-standing traditions of the department or its leadership, individuals risk threats and ostracization from those potentially engaging in serious crimes and may feel that they could risk losing their job. Furthermore, police officers may also feel a moral duty to keep serving the public.
Lacking Diversity in Police Departments
Law enforcement is an emotionally and physically challenging field where officers face constant risk. Sometimes these conflicts are political. In close-knit groups lacking diversity, like-minded individuals may set the standard and tone of the department, and people subject to discrimination, harassment or retaliation have the most to lose. In departments where racism and sexism are tolerated, officers may face discrimination and harassment, or get passed over for promotions, especially if a department decides to retaliate.
Fighting for Law Enforcement Officers
Police officers commit their lives upholding the law, which is why they deserve to exercise these same rights in the workplace. McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP has a track record of supporting law enforcement officers. No one should suffer from discrimination or fear retaliation for reporting misconduct.
Our firm seeks transparency in police departments to prevent the cycle of secrecy which ends up hurting police officers. Contact us for legal help: call McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP at 310-474-1582 for a free evaluation of your situation.