Unwritten Code of Ethics for a Probation Officer

by Elizabeth (Lisa)Thompson; Updated September 26, 2017
Probation officers must adhere to strict confidentiality laws.

Probation officers deal with a wide range of the population, from the homeless to Supreme Court judges. As such, they must adhere to a strict code of ethics, some parts of which may not be specifically stated by law. Although general law enforcement ethics apply to probation officers, the unwritten code of ethics for a probation officer can also provide moral guidance.

Service

The probation officer has a duty to serve three separate segments of the community: offenders, victims and the community itself. He should put aside any motivation of personal gain.

Respect

Perhaps most important, probation officers must obey the law and court directives. A probation officer works for the courts, and if she does not respect the law, she cannot effectively perform her duties. She should also respect the rights of each person without regard to race, creed, disability or any other discriminatory factor. She should protect the rights of all, including the community's right to safety.

Personal Integrity

Probation officers must maintain high personal standards of integrity. A question the probation officer may ask himself is, "How would I feel if what I am doing were to be on the news tomorrow?" This litmus test addresses many issues and resolves questionable areas before they cause grief to the probation officer, his department and his profession.

Use of Position

A probation officer should not abuse her position. Such abuses may include political promotions, the misuse of her position of trust to take advantage of an offender, or receiving privileges tied to her position.

Public Trust

As a person who holds an office of public trust, the probation officer is viewed in much the same way as other law enforcement personnel, teachers, church leaders or public community figures. As such, probation officers should be dedicated to the profession and hold themselves to high standards of behavior.

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