Police Discretion Essay

1481 words - 6 pages

In this essay a discussion will be explored about the benefits and problems associated with police use of discretion. Which current policing strategies have the most potential for controlling officer discretion and providing accountability, and which have the least, and why is that the case? And finally, how might these issues impact the various concerns facing law enforcement today?
Police behavior is different across all communities. In fact, how police react to combat crime is affected by the management style of the various police administrators. Also, local politics will have a strong influence on how police react to crime. When police respond to a call, they will make a determination of the “cost and benefits” of their reaction. How they decide to intervene is based on the net gain to the neighborhood, suspect and the officer himself (Wilson, 1969). There have been several efforts to understand how police use discretion in their day-today operations. One of the difficulties in understanding police discretion, is when an officer makes a determination not to invoke the law, that decision is often not seen by anyone who would oversight over that officers decision, therefore that decision is usually not subject to review from any authority (Wilson, 1969). Police records are usually to incomplete to allow evaluation of non-enforcement decisions (Goldstein, 1960) Full enforcement of the law is not possible due to various reasons, a limitation of officer time, and a limitation of investigative devices. In some instances the police may choose not to enforce the law in order to allow a confidential informant to gather information on another suspect. This is an exchange relationship where both parties have the opportunity to gain some benefits by their interaction (Cole, 1970). While serving as a confidential informant the subject is allowed to continue to engage in criminal activity. Without this network of informers, it would be difficult to capture users, possessors and sellers of illegal drugs. In this circumstance police discretion has a net positive effect.
When and how officers use discretion is not always seen in a positive light by some members of the community; for example some officers feel that an assault between two blacks is an acceptable way for them to handle disputes, therefore there would be no need to invoke the criminal process (Goldstein, 1960). An officer’s negative appraisal of minorities is one of the reasons they are so over-represented in the criminal justice system. If officers are making the decision not to invoke the criminal process when dealing with white upper class males, but in most cases invoking the criminal process when dealing with members of the minority community, that is a violation of due process. In that case, the net affect of police discretion is negative.
One important work which highlighted some of the shortcomings of officer discretion was a survey sponsored by the American Bar Foundation....

Find Another Essay On Police Discretion

Police Discretion and the Use of Force

2202 words - 9 pages Discretion is defined as the authority to make a decision between two or more choices (Pollock, 2010). More specifically, it is defined as “the capacity to identify and to document criminal and noncriminal events” (Boivin & Cordeau, 2011). Every police officer has a great deal of discretion concerning when to use their authority, power, persuasion, or force. Depending on how an officer sees their duty to society will determine an

Police Discretion and the Ethics of Accepting Gratuities

2052 words - 8 pages Police Discretion and the Ethics of Accepting Gratuities Police officers are often confronted with the ethical dilemma of whether or not to accept gratuities. This dilemma is an aspect of police discretion and an example of the choices that officers are forced to make. Police officers have discretion when confronted with choices such as whether or not to charge an individual, how to handle certain situations, or whether to accept a

Critiquing Chicago Police general order (rules) to the eleven standards found in "Broken Windows and Police Discretion".

850 words - 3 pages " policy relative to the use of deadly force by police officers, (b) sets forth Department policy regarding a police officer's use of deadly force, and (c) establishes guidelines controlling the use of deadly force by police officers.When critiquing this general order to the eleven standards found in "Broken Windows and Police Discretion" you find that this policy does not meet all eleven standards. The first standard, which states that a policy should

"It might be thought that UK police discretion is tightly constrained by legal rules. At times it is but more frequently it is not" Discuss in the context of Stop and Search

3419 words - 14 pages In discussing the above quotation I intend to examine what is generally meant by police discretion, what constraints are imposed on that discretion and how effective those constraints actually are upon today's police force. Finally, how such discretion is applied in relation to police powers of stop and search, and how effective any constraints actually are.Police DiscretionDiscretion, defined as "the freedom to decide what should be done in a

The Law of Self-defense

993 words - 4 pages is required to follow a very high standard before using any sort of violence. The standard of self-defense would be too rigid for the police to follow as it hinders them from performing their primary duty of protecting society. The conditions for imposing the death penalty require guided jury discretion and the fulfillment beyond a reasonable doubt of at least one of the ten statutory aggravating factors. The rules of the jurisprudence of death

Agency Discretion

1213 words - 5 pages successfully determine the behavior of. An example is police departments have been successful in decreasing the amount of deaths that occur from high speed police chases and the use of deadly force by setting up policies to control the chases and the deadly force. In other instances being able to control discretion has been proven burdensome. Sometimes the cure is worse than the symptom: that is the dominance may have not planned and have the opposite of

Police Power

2272 words - 9 pages "I'm not against the police; I'm just afraid of them." This is a quotation by famous filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock on his perception of police. This seems to be the most common view that Americans have of police. My goal in this paper will be to inform you about the police, police corruption, as well as use of police discretion in different circumstances.Twenty-four hours a day, three hundred sixty-five days a year, the police have a mandate to

Police Legitimacy and Accountability

1813 words - 7 pages this (Waddington and Wright, 2010); it is often the case that there is public demand for all police to be further issued with guns (Ingleton, 1997). Police also raise the issue that when facing armed criminals they feel a necessity to be armed due to the high threat of danger (McCulloch, 1989). The use of police discretion can seemingly destroy how trusting the public are of them, as it allows for stereotypes and prejudices to occur (Waddington and

Ethnic and Racial Inequalities in the Justice System

543 words - 2 pages stereotypes are endorsed and upheld by the canteen culture. Ethnic differences in offending is another explanation to explain the disproportionality in stop and searches simply reflect ethnic differences in levels of offending. There is low discretion stops and high discretion stops. In low discretion stops the police act on relevant information about an offence e.g. description. In a high discretion stop police act without any intelligence

Scales of Justice

1560 words - 6 pages /local/Brillion-police-chief-reflects-on-child-abuse-case.html>. Breyer, Stephen G. "United States v. Booker, U.S. Supreme Court Case Summary & Oral Argument." The Oyez Project | U.S. Supreme Court Oral Argument Recordings, Case Abstracts and More. Web. 4 Mar. 2011. . "Dictionary - Definition of Judicial Discretion." Webster's Online Dictionary - with Multilingual Thesaurus Translation

Seperation of Powers, Rule of Law and Responsible Government

1703 words - 7 pages individually. Miller (1997) writes that the law does not cover every circumstance that a police officer may be confronted with, thus giving the responsibility to the police officer to interpret and apply the law in its context, enforce the law and even provide an on the spot solution to a problem. A police officer will be faced with various incidents in which their discretion will decide on the best plan of action in regards to that predicament

Similar Essays

Police Discretion Essay

1735 words - 7 pages Discretion is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as "the ability to make responsible decisions, individual choice or judgment, power of free decision or latitude of choice within certain legal bounds." In law enforcement discretion is left up to each individual officer on the field everyday. Police officers are given the authority to make reasonable and responsible decisions out in the field. Discretion is used in many situations, such as

Police Discretion Essay

1353 words - 5 pages Police Discretion Police discretion by definition is the power to make decisions of policy and practice. Police have the choice to enforce certain laws and how they will be enforced. “Some law is always or almost always enforced, some is never or almost never enforced, and some is sometimes enforced and sometimes not” (Davis, p.1). Similarly with discretion is that the law may not cover every situation a police officer encounters, so they

The Discretion Of The Police Essay

829 words - 3 pages In this paper, I will be writing about Police Discretion. I will start by defining Police Discretion then briefly discuss the use of discretion in domestic disturbances, minor misdemeanors, and traffic enforcement. I will also discuss the application of police discretion, the provisions it uses and how it is currently practiced. At the end of these brief descriptions, I will then present the myth that exists in regards to police discretion

Police Discretion: Necessary Or Unfair? Essay

1351 words - 6 pages Introduction Officer Discretion is defined as “the freedom to decide what should be done in a particular situation” (dictionary). Therefore, in the police department, the term “officer’s discretion” is one that allows a police officer to make a judgment call during several situations. It is an officer exercise that is used a lot more than citizens think. Officer Discretion is not something that can be explained in one simple definition. Officer