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Model Policy
Effective Date Number
August 1, 1997
Standards of Conduct
Reference Special Instructions

Distribution Reevaluation Date No. Pages


I. PURPOSE reflects the ethical standards consistent with the rules

It is the purpose of this policy to provide addition - contained in this policy and otherwise disseminated
al specificity to the standards of conduct embodied in by this agency.
the law enforcement officer’s code of ethics and this
agency’s statement of values so that officers of this III. DEFINITIONS
agency will better understand prohibitions and limita- Accountability: In the context of this policy, account-
tions pertaining to their conduct and activities while ability means the duty of all officers to truthfully
on and off duty. acknowledge and explain their actions and decisions
The rules of conduct set forth in this policy are not when requested to do so by an authorized member of
intended to serve as an exhaustive treatment of this agency without deception or subterfuge.
requirements, limitations, or prohibitions on officer
conduct and activities established by this agency.
Rather, they are intended to (1) alert officers to some of IV. PROCEDURES
the more sensitive and often problematic matters A. General Conduct
involved in police conduct and ethics; (2) specify, 1. Obedience to Laws, Regulations, and Orders
where possible, actions and inactions that are contrary a. Officers shall not violate any law or any
to and that conflict with the duties and responsibilities agency policy, rule, or procedure.
of law enforcement officers, and (3) guide officers in b. Officers shall obey all lawful orders.
conducting themselves and their affairs in a manner 2. Conduct Unbecoming an Officer
that reflects standards of deportment and profession - Officers shall not engage in any conduct or
alism as required of law enforcement officers. activities on- or off-duty that reflect discredit
Additional guidance on matters of conduct is provid- on the officers, tend to bring this agency into
ed in regard to specific policies, procedures, and direc- disrepute, or impair its efficient and effective
tives disseminated by this agency and from officers’ operation.
immediate supervisors and commanders. 3. Accountability, Responsibility, and Discipline
a. Officers are directly accountable for their
actions through the chain of command, to
II. POLICY this agency’s chief executive officer.
Actions of officers that are inconsistent, incompatible, b. Officers shall cooperate fully in any internal
or in conflict with the values established by this administrative investigation conducted by
agency negatively affect its reputation and that of its this or other authorized agency and shall
officers. Such actions and inactions thereby detract provide complete and accurate information
from the agency’s overall ability to effectively and effi- in regard to any issue under investigation.
ciently protect the public, maintain peace and order, c. Officers shall be accurate, complete, and
and conduct other essential business. Therefore, it is truthful in all matters.
the policy of this law enforcement agency that officers d. Officers shall accept responsibility for their
conduct themselves at all times in a manner that actions without attempting to conceal,
divert, or mitigate their true culpability nor been impaired by alcohol, medication, or
shall they engage in efforts to thwart, influ- other substances.
ence, or interfere with an internal or crimi- f. Officers must report the use of any sub -
nal investigation. stance, prior to reporting for duty, that
e. Officers who are arrested, cited, or come impairs their ability to perform as a law
under investigation for any criminal enforcement officer.
offense in this or another jurisdiction shall g. Supervisors shall order a drug or alcohol
report this fact to a superior as soon as pos - screening test when they have reasonable
sible. suspicion that an employee is using and/or
4. Conduct Toward Fellow Employees under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
a. Officers shall conduct themselves in a man- Such screening shall conform to this
ner that will foster cooperation among agency’s policy on employee drug-screen -
members of this agency, showing respect, ing and testing.
courtesy, and professionalism in their deal- 7. Use of Tobacco Products
ings with one another. While on duty, a police officer shall not use a
b. Employees shall not use language or tobacco product unless in a designated area
engage in acts that demean, harass, or and while not conducting police business.
intimidate another person. (Members Additionally, officers are not permitted to use
should refer to this agency’s policy on tobacco products in a vehicle owned or main-
“Harassment and Discrimination in the tained by this agency.
Workplace” for additional information on 8. Abuse of Law Enforcement Powers or Position
this subject) a. Officers shall report any unsolicited gifts,
5. Conduct Toward the Public gratuities, or other items of value that they
a. Officers shall conduct themselves toward receive and shall provide a full report of the
the public in a civil and professional man - circumstances of their receipt if directed.
ner that connotes a service orientation and b. Officers shall not use their authority or
that will foster public respect and coopera - position for financial gain, for obtaining or
tion. granting privileges or favors not otherwise
b. Officers shall treat violators with respect available to them or others except as a pri-
and courtesy, guard against employing an vate citizen, to avoid the consequences of
officious or overbearing attitude or lan - illegal acts for themselves or for others, to
guage that may belittle, ridicule, or intimi- barter, solicit, or accept any goods or serv -
date the individual, or act in a manner that ices (to include, gratuities, gifts, discounts,
unnecessarily delays the performance of rewards, loans, or fees) whether for the offi-
their duty. cer or for another.
c. While recognizing the need to demonstrate c. Officers shall not purchase, convert to their
authority and control over criminal sus - own use, or have any claim to any found,
pects and prisoners, officers shall adhere to impounded, abandoned, or recovered
this agency’s use-of-force policy and shall property, or any property held or released
observe the civil rights and protect the well- as evidence.
being of those in their charge. d. Officers shall not solicit or accept contribu-
6. Use of Alcohol and Drugs tions for this agency or for any other
a. Officers shall not consume any intoxicating agency, organization, event, or cause with -
beverage while on duty unless authorized out the express consent of the agency chief
by a supervisor. executive or his or her designee.
b. No alcoholic beverage shall be served or e. Officers are prohibited from using informa-
consumed on police premises or in vehicles tion gained through their position as a law
owned by this jurisdiction. enforcement officer to advance financial or
c. An officer shall not be under the influence other private interests of themselves or oth-
of alcohol in a public place, whether on- or ers.
off-duty. f. Officers who institute or reasonably expect
d. No officer shall report for duty with the to benefit from any civil action that arises
odor of alcoholic beverage on his or her from acts performed under color of author-
breath. ity shall inform their commanding officer.
e. No officer shall report to work or be on 9. Off-Duty Police Action
duty as a law enforcement officer when his a. Officers shall not use their police powers to
or her judgment or physical condition has resolve personal grievances (e.g., those
involving the officer, family members, rela- c. unless expressly authorized, make any
tives, or friends) except under circum - statements, speeches, or appearances that
stances that would justify the use of self- could reasonably be considered to repre -
defense, actions to prevent injury to anoth - sent the views of this agency.
er person, or when a serious offense has 2. Endorsements
been committed that would justify an Officers may not, under color of authority,
arrest. In all other cases, officers shall sum- endorse, recommend, or facilitate the sale of
mon on-duty police personnel and a super- commercial products or services. This includes
visor in cases where there is personal but is not limited to the use of tow services,
involvement that would reasonably require repair firms, attorneys, bail bondsmen, or other
law enforcement intervention. technical or professional services. It does not
b. Unless operating a marked police vehicle, pertain to the endorsement of appropriate gov-
off-duty officers shall not arrest or issue ernmental services where there is a duty to
citations or warnings to traffic violators on make such endorsements.
sight, except when the violation is of such a C. Political Activity
dangerous nature that officers would rea - Officers shall be guided by state law regarding
sonably be expected to take appropriate their participation and involvement in political
action. activities. Where state law is silent on this issue,
10. Prohibited Associations and Establishments officers shall be guided by the following exam -
a. Arresting, investigating, or custodial offi - ples of prohibited political activities during
cers shall not commence social relations working hours, while in uniform, or otherwise
with the spouse, immediate family mem - serving as a representative of this agency:
ber, or romantic companion of persons in a. Engage in any political activity;
the custody of this agency. b. Place or affix any campaign literature on
b. Officers shall not knowingly commence or city/county-owned property;
maintain a relationship with any person c. Solicit political funds from any member of
who is under criminal investigation, indict- this agency or another governmental
ment, arrest, or incarceration by this or agency of this jurisdiction;
another police or criminal justice agency, d. Solicit contributions, signatures, or other
and/or who has an open and notorious forms of support for political candidates,
criminal reputation in the community (for parties, or ballot measures on property
example, persons whom they know, should owned by this jurisdiction;
know, or have reason to believe are e. Use official authority to interfere with any
involved in felonious activity), except as election or interfere with the political
necessary to the performance of official actions of other employees or the general
duties, or where unavoidable because of public;
familial relationships. f. Favor or discriminate against any person
c. Except in the performance of official duties, seeking employment because of political
officers shall not knowingly enter any opinions or affiliations;
establishment in which the law of that juris- g. Participate in any type of political activity
diction is regularly violated while in uniform.
d. Officers shall not knowingly join or partici- D. Expectations of Privacy
pate in any organization that advocates, 1. Officers shall not store personal information or
incites, or supports criminal acts or crimi- belongings with an expectation of personal pri-
nal conspiracies. vacy in such places as lockers, desks, depart -
B. Public Statements, Appearances, and Endorse - mentally owned vehicles, file cabinets, comput-
ments ers, or similar areas that are under the control
1. Officers shall not, under color of authority, and management of this law enforcement
a. make any public statement that could be agency. While this agency recognizes the need
reasonably interpreted as having an for officers to occasionally store personal items
adverse effect upon department morale, in such areas, officers should be aware that
discipline, operation of the agency, or per- these and similar places may be inspected or
ception of the public; otherwise entered—to meet operational needs,
b. divulge or willfully permit to have internal investigatory requirements, or for
divulged, any information gained by rea - other reasons—at the direction of the agency
son of their position, for anything other chief executive or his or her designee.
than its official, authorized purpose; or 2. No member of this agency shall maintain files
or duplicate copies of official agency files in
either manual or electronic formats at his or her This project was supported by Grant No. 95-DD-BX-K014 awarded by the Bureau
of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The
place of residence or in other locations outside Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs, coordinates the activities of
the confines of this agency without express per- the following program offices and bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the
Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Institute of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice
mission. and Delinquency Prevention, and the Office of Victims of Crime. Points of view or
opinions in this document are those of the author and do not represent the official
position or policies of the United States Department of Justice or the International
Association of Chiefs of Police.

Every effort has been made by the IACP National Law Enforcement Policy Center staff and advisory board to ensure that this model policy incorporates the most current information
and contemporary professional judgment on this issue. However, law enforcement administrators should be cautioned that no “model” policy can meet all the needs of any given law
enforcement agency. Each law enforcement agency operates in a unique environment of federal court rulings, state laws, local ordinances, regulations, judicial and administrative deci -
sions, and collective bargaining agreements that must be considered. In addition, the formulation of specific agency policies must take into account local political and community per -
spectives and customs, prerogatives and demands; often divergent law enforcement strategies and philosophies; and the impact of varied agency resource capabilities, among other