The Code of Ethics: Where It Begins

Public employees, a group with which I am proud to be part of, are heavily regulated when it comes to that broad concept that we call ethics.  From the smallest form of government to the highest offices in the land, we are guided by Codes of Ethics that are designed to insure that appointed or elected officials consider only the public good when it comes to making decisions.  None can personally profit from what they know or what they can do based on their public office. And there are plenty of similar rules and regulations that apply to various positions in the private sector.


Imagine for a minute, if you will, your dear old dad getting stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation.  How did the conversation go after the police officer issued a ticket?  Did dad say, “I certainly deserved that,” or was it more along the line of “I got caught in a speed trap,” implying that responsibility for the situation lied somewhere else. 

policecarWhen I became a police officer the training included an Ethics 101 class.  For the first time I really understood that it’s more about the actions of the important figures around us that inculcates in us ethics and values.  That’s why it is important for parents to teach by their example.  It is equally important for those business leaders and managers to insure that those part-timers working their way through high school and college for them to experience a value driven enterprise where doing the right thing for the customer and suppliers is practiced as well as preached. 

I wanted to make sure my sons were taught the concepts of acceptance of responsibility, of doing the right things for the right reasons, and honorable actions.  And it paid off in the long run.

Shortly after an appointment as Chief of Police in another community one of the boys, (now a 17 year old with a relatively new driver’s license) was stopped for a traffic violation by one of my officers.  When the officer determined that he had stopped the chief’s son, he told him he was not going to write him a ticket but let him off with a warning.  To his credit, my son said “if you would give a ticket to anyone else for this, give me one. My dad would not be happy any other way.”  I couldn’t have been more proud!

I wish more parents would teach their children to accept responsibility for their actions.  More often than not, “it’s the cop’s fault;” it’s rarely about the child’s behavior causing the issue.  Believe me; we will be seeing that one again and again.  

Why do we need regulations? Too many still do not “walk the talk.”

Mike Dickey is Chief of Police Fairfield, Ohio Police Department
Mike Dickey is Chief of Police
Fairfield, Ohio Police Department

2 Replies to “The Code of Ethics: Where It Begins”

  1. Well written, chief. I especially liked the example of your son. We public servants must always be mindful of honesty, integrity, fairness, compassion, justice as we apply ethical principles to all we do.

    1. I really like this fraomt to openly discuss Doing the Right Thing ! I work in an industry (Auto Sales) where the right thing does not always happen, and the management could care less So, your blog is a welcomed breath of fresh air! Thanks!

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