Police Discretion

1050 WordsDec 9, 20055 Pages
Police Discretion Police discretion is the ability to choose a course of action because of broad limits of power. It "refers to the autonomy an officer has in choosing an appropriate course of action" (The Police In America, 113). It "includes authority to decide which of the various means of helping the helpless, maintaining order, and keeping the peace are best suited to particular circumstances" (www.worldandi.com/specialreport/1989/january/Sa15878.htm). The police need to have discretion since it is impossible to record everything on what they are supposed to do and not do. We can also understand that if you could record all the rules and regulations it would be too extensive for an individual to comprehend. Looking at the…show more content…
Situation variables include "the seriousness of the offense," how it came to the officer 's attention, and the visibility of the offense (Policing in America, 259-260). What if there was a weapon, such as a gun, knife, or a sword? There are plenty of times in which an officer will lend more attention to a serious crime and sort of push aside the petty crime. Is that wise to give less attention to petty crimes? What if they grow into bigger, more serious crimes? Referring to the visibility of the offense, it is true that "Police tend to become much more bureaucratic when witnesses, an audience, or the media are present (http://ncwc.edu/toconnor/205/205lect09.htm). System variables include an "officer 's perception of inequities in the law," agency size, the expectations of the community, informal police norms, and the availability of alternatives to arrest (Policing in America, 260-261). We have to remember that the community can play a major role in what influences how the officer will act and respond (261). There are a few situations which include more discretion than other areas. Such important areas of discretion would include domestic violence, drunk driving, hate crimes, mental illness, use of

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