Much has been written recently concerning ethics in our country. Most of the time, when we read about violations of recognized ethical standards we associate the conduct with business fraud of some sort. As security officers, the foundation of our very existence rests on the refusal of certain people to act in an ethical manner at all times. If people did not steal, cheat, rob, vandalize or otherwise destroy that which belongs to someone else, there would not there be a need for security.

Unfortunately, due to the presence of unacceptable social behaviors in our society, there is a need for persons to protect themselves and their property. By and large, that is why security exists! However, if, as security professionals, we accept the theory that security personnel must conduct themselves in a highly proper and ethical manner at all times, then we must also accept the notion that ours is an integrity profession. Without integrity, security personnel are no better than criminals. In fact, many would argue worse than criminals, for if a person has been assigned the responsibility of protecting someone else’s property, to damage or steal the property is the greatest wrong!

What Is Ethics?

This question has been debated for hundreds of years. A study conducted several years ago by the Ethics Resource Center found that over 86% of all people who were interviewed associated ethics with standards and rules of conduct, morals, right and wrong, values, and honesty. Unfortunately, only those who display a lack of ethics are identified. Those who “do the right thing” are not often publicized. Rather, individuals who violate recognized standards of behavior are apparent.

Dr. Albert Schweitzter defined ethics as, “the name we give to our concern for good behavior. We feel an obligation to consider not only our own personal well-being, but also that of others and of human society as a whole.” Ethical behavior includes a shared interest which affects all humans. Ethical behavior needs to be recognized and accepted. Behavior becomes unethical when a special interest of one individual or a number of individuals is considered more important than the interest of society.

For security professionals, it is essential that we understand and accept what is considered ethical behavior. Since security personnel are often charged with enforcing rules and policies, an example of conduct which demonstrates high ethical standards must be the rule and not the exception for all security personnel.