The Dirty Harry Problem "When and to what extent does the morally good end warrant or justify an ethically, politically, or legally dangerous means for its achievement?" This is the question posed by Carl Klockars about the ever growing Dirty Harry problem in society. This has become a focus of mass media and even a source of profit. The name itself comes from a Hollywood movie staring Clint Eastwood. Well if you believe the movies then the answer is never, for along as the bad guy gets what he deserves than the means didn't matter. But at some point doesn't a line have to be drawn? Yes, in some manner in some situations I believe that you must step off the position of power and leadership, and get your hands dirty. Klockars argues that all persons encountered by police officers in situation of enforcement, such as a traffic stop, must be considered guilty.
The officer must take that stand in order to protect themselves. If nothing is found the person is merely innocent this time. This assumption doesn't justify using dirty means however. Only when an officer knows guilt exists should dirty means come into effect. There must be limits to these means; officers can not just go around using acts that are not considered legal, just because they are in a position of power. The dirty means are a last resource in a situation where something greater than the law hangs in the balance.
Revenge or punishment does not fit these criteria; Klockars says that some officers may use these ideals of dirty means in order to punish the guilty. This is not what the dirty harry problem is about, however it may be how some people view the subject. Klockars is correct when discussing, when only a dirty means will work. Departments must take some responsibility for the actions of the officers.
Had the department trained the officers well? In many cases perfectly legal acts may produce the same results that, dirty ones do. This situation implies that the officers had no ideas as to how to conduct proper investigations, or they don't understand the consequences for their actions, not only to them but the investigation, as the suspect will surely go free. But of course it is easy to preach from a classroom, those officers dealing with situations rely on instinct and gut feelings. If the dirty means will work, what is the necessity that it must be used? That is a valid question if the dirty means will work; at what point do we decide to conduct those means? That is easily answered a life.
Only a life can grant the destruction of a person's right to a fair legal treatment. Why? Well simply put the victim of the dirty means is dirty. They are going to kill someone and will not release the information on how to save them. The rights of the victim are gone, the kidnapped child did nothing wrong to deserve their right to live be removed. That suspect did, they took the rights of their victim, and therefore said goodbye to those same rights.
That is the only time that dirty acts, are justified by the end result. The saving of a life. I do not believe that dirty or illegal means should be allowed I don't think that laws should be passed that allow offers to bend the law on a hunch. What should be allowed is after thought. In Dirty Harry, Harry knew that the man he was punishing was guilty, and he believed that the girl was still alive. Harry had been beaten by this man, Harry's partner had been shot and a life hung in the balance.
The law must not condone Harry's actions, but those extenuating circumstances must be examined. The law should acknowledge that Scorpio had given up any rights he had when he shot an officer and said he was going to kill the girl. That moment in time Scorpio made a decision to rescind the promise he made. Harry had no choice but to conduct the acts that he did, and therefore the evidence and confession from Scorpio is valid information. The law must be allowed to evaluate that case, but Harry must suffer as well a punishment from the department such as suspension or manners along those lines in necessary. Otherwise officers would still conduct dirty means even if the law says no, because those who conduct dirty means remain unpunished.
Klockars addresses the current attitude that is possessed by modern society. Administration creates laws and rules for officers to follow, giving them quotas and numbers they must meet. Who are these people who tell the officers what to do? They employ them sign the paychecks, so don't the officers have to please them in order to keep working. This is not effective; the officers must then go and catch people, defining their work as law enforcement, when really police must just keep the peace.
This catch 22 makes the politicians who condone the dirty means, force officers to go a catch people to keep their jobs. If they are a ticket short might they not ticket someone who doesn't deserve it? Arrest an innocent person just to keep track with what is required. The last moral dilemma is that, the police as they should be, are held to a higher standard than those they chase. Doesn't that give the edge back to those the police are trying to stop? If so, then officers must from time to time remove that edge, remind the criminals that the police are higher then them and will stop criminals no matter what. The Dirty Harry problem is much more than the violation of a few rights.
It has at its core the equalization of police and criminals. While this equalization is better achieved thought legal and just means, from time to time that may need to be broken. I do not condone the use of violence to gain something; I merely understand that sometimes there is no other choice but to do what must be done. To answer the question from the start, only when a life may be saved can the morally good end warrant or justify an ethically, politically, or legally dangerous means for its achievement.