Date of Award

9-16-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Criminology

First Advisor

Alida V. Merlo, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Willard T. Austin, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Daniel R. Lee, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

John A. Lewis, Ph.D.

Abstract

Peer reporting is a special type of ethical decision making behavior, and it has been one of the positive outcome behaviors investigated in the ethical decision making literature. Also, peer reporting is viewed as a supplementary mechanism to reduce unethical practices by the members of an organization (Trevino, Weaver, & Reynolds, 2006). However, there is little research concerning police officers’ peer reporting of unethical behavior in the literature. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to investigate police officers’ ethical decision making with regard to peer reporting. On a theoretical level, a peer reporting model was developed for the purpose of this study. At the individual level, Rest’s (1984) “four component model” of individual ethical decision making; at the organizational level, Trevino’s (1986) “a person-situation interactionist” model; and, finally, Jones’ (1991) “issue-contingent model” are used to develop a working model for investigation of police officers’ peer reporting decisions. The model developed for this study includes three levels of factors that can influence an officer’s ethical peer reporting decisions: individual, organizational, and issue-related factors. The individual demographics include age, gender, race, marital status, years of service, and rank. The individual dispositional factors are cynicism and attitudes toward ethics. The organizational factors are referent others and reinforcement contingencies. The issue-related factors include magnitude of consequences and social consensus. Data from a larger study conducted by Greene, Piquero, Hickman, and Lawton (2004) on the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) were used to test the model to investigate police officers’ peer reporting decisions. Multiple regression models were computed to test the model based on three types of policy violations, minor, moderate, and major. The results of the current suggested that the perceived seriousness of the unethical behavior is the strongest predictor of police officers’ peer reporting intentions in minor and moderate policy violations. However, officers’ attitudes toward professional ethics codes are the strongest predictors of their peer reporting intentions in situations involving major policy violations.

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