Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952415 | Print ISBN: 9780761926498 | Online ISBN: 9781412952415 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The origin of the term whistle-blower is unclear. Some have argued that the word is derived from an English police officer's use of a whistle while trying to apprehend a criminal. Others have analogized the word with a referee who blows a whistle to announce an illegal action during a game. Although the word's origin is in dispute, its definition is not. A whistle-blower is an individual who reports the illegal or unethical behavior of his or her employer, coworkers, or some other business or government entity to the appropriate authorities. Whistle-blowers provide an important public service by reporting abuse, fraud, dangerous working conditions, a hostile work environment, or numerous other forms of misconduct. Law enforcement officers have a heightened ethical duty to report the wrongdoings of their colleagues in order to secure the trust of the public whom they serve. The duty to blow the whistle on unethical behavior ...