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Police Power Essay

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 enforce the criminal law and preserve public peace. Police understand in this mandate is an obligation to police everyday life matters that originate in the daily lives and activities of citizens within their community. Police interact in some form with the average citizen more often than any other government official. In society today the police play a key role in maintaining a civil society. This role assumes a substantial amount of power and authority over the general public. With power comes abuse of power. The question that is presented is how and why do the police exceed the parameters of their power and authority?This is an issue that is predominant in urban settings, but not exclusive to these settings. This is an important issue because it affects all people. The police are a government service to all people, but all people do not feel they are being serviced. Not everyone is satisfied with the conduct of the police. Police deal with criminals on such a routine basis they think of each criminal systematically and if they run into one violent criminal, they could assume that others will also be violent toward them. On average, more than 57,000 law enforcement officers are assaulted each year, resulting in some 17,000 injuries. This fact could be why police over abuse their power in certain cases. Police are allowed to and must use personal discretion in their determination of law enforcement. Unlike a judge or lawyer a police officer can not gather information and take time to make to make a decision affecting the fate of a person. He must make a quick decision based on his discretion to determine the fate of a person. A quick decision is required to protect the interests of the public and to satisfy requirements of operating efficiency. Now we are telling officer to not enforce the law, but to determine the law.Police discretion or an officer's ability to decide to arrest or not arrest someone purely on the basis of his or her own judgment could either be healthy or unhealthy. Using healthy discretion this decision would be based on the circumstances surrounding the situation without including race, gender, age, appearance or income. For example should a man driving 55 in a 50mph zone trying to get his pregnant wife to a hospital be fined. This is one situation in which police officers would hopefully use their discretion in a healthy manner.There are also problems that arise within this system. Some officers abuse or misuse this freedom making it unhealthy discrimination instead of healthy...

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