Conduct Unbecoming [Off-Duty]

Law enforcement personnel are held to personal standards higher than other members of our communities. Conduct unbecoming has been a common and historical charge used in controlling and censuring police officers and other public employees, for both on and off duty actions. The “Police Officer’s Code of Ethics,” written back in the 1950s, has a provision that is routinely referenced in training as well as court decisions that promises, under oath: “I will keep my personal life unsullied as an example to all.” Court decisions regarding public employee misconduct involving conduct unbecoming commonly requires that the act of misconduct have a nexus or connection to the employee’s job performance or ability to perform or have an adverse affect on the agency’s “morale,” “operations,” or “efficiency.” Historically, law enforcement employees have been held to this higher standard of conduct, both on and off the job. This heightened standard of conduct also applies to other public employees.