Friday, May 3, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Character and Cops: Ethics in Policing by Edwin J. Delattre


First published in 1989 and in its 6th edition in 2011, Character and Cops: Ethics in Policing, Sixth Edition, by Edwin J. Delattre is a very lengthy book published by the conservative American Enterprise Institute. The book is very dated for today’s law enforcement officer, unnecessarily wordy, follows a predictably conservative take on law enforcement issues, and seems to apply ethics to support those positions. Some arguments and conclusions seem not to be well supported, and some even contradictory. An example is that the Constitution is Supreme—obviously—but questions 8-1 court decisions in favor of free speech and makes an argument that the constitutional right to confront witnesses is not absolute. 

There was some good content in the book. I particularly agree

with the idea that good character can’t be or is difficult to teach, that preemployment screening of potential police officers is paramount, that standards for candidates should not be lowered to meet staffing shortages, and the “spirit of service” is essential. I agree also with examples of ethics in action in policing, and that those who fail to live up to the high standards required of policing should be removed from their positions. 

With some updating, more balanced positions, and serious editing, this book could play an important role in 21st Century law enforcement. However, there are better options available. 


Delattre, Edwin J. Character & Cops: Ethics in Policing, 6th Edition. American Enterprise Institute, 2011. ISBN: 978-0844772257




No compensation was provided for this review. 

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