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. And finally, I will end this paper with my personal opinion as well as a brief conclusion.
First, I will define Police Discretion. Police discretion is the power or authority that is given to a police officer to act officially in a manner that appears to be just and proper under the presented circumstances. In a domestic disturbance, the police officer has to use his discretion based upon the situation before him. The officer needs to make a decision that will make both parties involved be content with the resolution. This discretion that a police officer uses at the time of a domestic disturbance is the most difficult because his decisions ends up affecting either parties to a situation for the better or for the worse. In such situation, the officer can either mediate a peaceful agreement, can suggest counseling or if this doesn’t work he can also make an arrest of the person that is not willing to come to a peaceful resolution to the problem.
At the time a police officer encounters a minor misdemeanor, he can also make use of his discretion. A minor misdemeanor that a police officer could encounter can be that of a minor assault, public intoxication, disorderly conduct or even trespassing. The action taken by a police officer in such cases all depends on his discretion at the time, just as it is done on a domestic disturbance case. The officer has the option of making an arrest or making a report and is all based on his discretion used at the time the situation arises. The other area that a police officer encounters the use of his discretion is when enforcing traffic laws. A police officer uses his discretion at the time of traffic violations by either issuing a citation, giving the person a verbal warning or even making an arrest. An arrest takes place when the police officer’s discretion was completely overwhelmed by an action that seemed completely wrong. At many times, an officer can also choose to ignore an act or violation as if it did not occur at all.