An ethical dilemma is a situation that involves a conflict between at least two moral imperatives in which to obey one means disobeying the other. For example, police officers feel they must be loyal to their partners. If their partner pockets money found on a drug raid, they should turn their partner in, which is disloyal.
Resolving Ethical Dilemmas
According to "Resolving an Ethical Dilemma," there are two major approaches for resolving ethical dilemmas. One is to consider the consequences of the action and the other is to consider the action itself. An example from criminal justice is a police officer who has stopped a drunk driver. His action should be to enforce the law on drunk driving. If the drunk driver turns out to be his own father, he may take more time to consider the consequences of his action.
According to Jocelyn Pollock, author of "Ethical Dilemmas and Decisions in Criminal Justice," officers, prosecutors and judges are faced with ethical dilemmas daily. They have the power to choose who to charge, who to prosecute and what sentence to give. They also have a Constitutional mandate to provide due process and equal protection under the law to all the citizens they encounter.
Recent Ethical Dilemmas
Besides the dilemmas presented by racial profiling, juvenile crimes and corruption and cover-ups, the events of 9/11 have presented new challenges. In dealing with terrorism, questions arise about the end (protecting innocent civilians) justifying such means as torture, assassination or widespread wiretapping.