Police Discretion

2677 Words Jun 16th, 2011 11 Pages
From a criminological perspective discretion can be defined as the authority granted by law to agencies and officials to act on their own considered judgement and conscience in certain situations; and each area of the legal system (judges, parliament and law enforcement) has its own discretion. Police discretion is the ability granted by the legal system to police offices, in certain situations, to act in a manner that allows authorities to make responsible decisions and individual choices or judgments, within certain legal bounds. In law enforcement, discretion is left up to each individual officer to make reasonable and responsible decisions out in the field everyday (Beech, 2008). Discretion is used in many situations, such as when an …show more content…
On the other hand, if a police officer decides to shoot their weapon when the suspect is unarmed, is very unnecessary and unethical (USDOJ, 1999). The use of force is almost always up to the officer that is dealing with the suspect at hand; though an officer’s interpretation of the law and any personal bias’ towards a certain group are individual factors that can influence an officer’s decision. Although the description given to police officers regarding the extent of the use of force is that which is only necessary and reasonable in a present situation, but factors such as officers' rights to protect themselves and precedent set by the past behaviour of police officers are also worthy of consideration in regards to the amount of force to be used. The use of force must be controlled and confined though is unquestionable (USDOJ, 1999).
There can be seen that there are three elements in police discretion that an officer must decide on before making an individual choice regarding the scenario. The first stage is whether the officer should involve himself in the event; however an officer doesn’t sometimes doesn’t have a choice about whether to become involved or not as his/her organisation might send them there

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