Criminal Justice (CRJS) 490

Ethical Decision Making in Law Enforcement (Revision 2)

CRJS 490 course cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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Criminal Justice 490: Ethical Decision Making in Law Enforcement is a three-credit, senior-level distance education course offered by Athabasca University. This course provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges and opportunities facing criminal justice professionals in a fluid twenty-first century environment. With the level of scrutiny of police officers and other criminal justice practitioners by the public and governments, and with access by the mass media to downloads from cell phones that become accessible worldwide on the Internet within hours of an event, policing has truly become global entertainment. More than ever, organizations are compelled to view ethical behaviour and the fallout from inappropriate conduct as one of the most critical issues facing organizations today.


Criminal Justice 490: Ethical Decision Making in Law Enforcement comprises the following nine units:

  • Unit 1: The Foundations and Philosophy of Ethics
  • Unit 2: What Contributes to Unethical Conduct?
  • Unit 3: Managing Ethical Dilemmas
  • Unit 4: Continuation of Compromise
  • Unit 5: Case Study Analyses
  • Unit 6: Ethical Scandals and How They Affect Public Trust
  • Unit 7: Ethical Challenges Leaders Face
  • Unit 8: Rebuilding Character and Organizational Values
  • Unit 9: Developing a Culture of Integrity


Your final grade in Criminal Justice 490: Ethical Decision Making in Law Enforcement will be based on the grades you achieve on the course assignments for credit.

  To receive credit you must achieve an overall course grade of at least “D” 50 percent. The following table summarizes the assignments for credit, their weighting toward your final grade, and the date at which they are due according to the study schedule provided in this course.

Assignment for Credit Weighting Description
Assignment 1: Journal Exercise 20% You will keep a journal as you work your way through the course, with one entry to be completed and submitted after you have finished each of the nine units. This assignment provides you the opportunity to reflect on your learning experiences unit by unit.
Assignment 2: Online Moderating and Posting 20% You will create and moderate a discussion forum topic over a period of 30 to 45 days, and then you will summarize it. You will also post at least 5 responses to other discussion forum topics created and moderated by other students in the course.
Assignment 3: Unit Exercises 30% You will answer the questions found in the Unit Exercise section of each unit after you have conducted additional research. Your answers are due as you complete each unit.
Assignment 4: Research Paper 30% You will write a research paper of 2000 to 2500 words (8 to 10 pages) on an approved topic.
Total 100%  

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials

The course materials for Criminal Justice 490: Ethical Decision Making in Law Enforcement are mostly found on the course website.


Caldero, M. A., & Crank, J. P. (2011). Police ethics: The corruption of the noble cause (Revised 3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Anderson Publishing.

Delattre, E. J. (2011). Character and cops: Ethics in policing (6th ed.). Washington, DC: AEI Press.

Gilmartin, K. M. (2002). Emotional survival for law enforcement: A guide for officers and their families. Tucson, AZ: E-S Press.

Souryal, S. S. (2011). Ethics in criminal justice: In search of the truth (5th ed.). Burlington, MA: Anderson Publishing.

Reading File

Required readings for this course are contained in the print Reading File or through the DRR, Digital Reading Room. You will be directed to these readings at the appropriate points in the course.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, April 30, 2013.

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Updated October 19 2016 by Student & Academic Services