Gratuity Something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service. (Dictionary, 2010) When does a cup of coffee become a gratuity for a police officer? What is acceptable and what is not acceptable? If a police officer takes a free cup of coffee or a half priced meal does that make him vulnerable to take more. Does that act make the officer a bad officer or a corrupt officer? Does the person giving the gratuity expect something in return or is it just a gesture for the work the officer is doing?
Almost every police department has a policy on the acceptance of gifts and gratuities for the officers and the department. Some police departments allow no gifts or gratuities and some may have a policy that states as long as one person is not the recipient and it is available to the whole department then it is acceptable. How does a police department come up with a policy the does not create animosity toward the department from the public that wants to give to them for the services that they provide with no strings attached. You have some business that want to give money to a police department that needs to buy equipment for the officer on the street. Do you tell the business person that you can’t accept the money and that the officer will have to do the best that they can. No, I think when it comes to a safety issue and the gift is not for just one person the department will come out in the good end.
Agencies can develop a gratuity policy by seeking the help of many officers and local business owners and by reviewing established policies in other jurisdictions. Such a policy should tie directly with modern law enforcement's strict code of ethics regarding financial gains or rewards. (Sewell, 2007)
The slippery slope
If an officer accepts, a free cup of coffee, is s/he on their way to a short career as a police officer. Is there a middle ground that the officer can stand on or is the slope so steep that they can never recover? As a young officer, in the police academy you are told that you will never accept a gift, gratuity, or you career will be over. The young officer gets out of the academy and then reality sets in as they are paired with a veteran officer who is going to show them the ropes and how to survive on the streets. Some police departments are so riddled with police corruption that the public has no trust in them. One department that comes to mind is the New Orleans police department. That the department has been plagued by one scandal after another. Does the corruption of the New Orleans police department come from the officers taking a free cup of coffee or a half priced meal. John Kleinig points out that there are at least two different types of slippery slope arguments used when asserting that the acceptance of gratuities will lead to corruption, and both of these types of arguments can be employed in a variety of different ways.4 The two main types are the logical slope, and the psychological slope, and...