To illustrate this imagine that two men get into a fight in Times Square. A nearby police officer notices the disturbance and attempts to separate the two men instead of arresting them on the spot. In this hypothetical situation the police officer needed to use discretion to decide how to best handle the situation. At times however, police discretion causes more problems than it resolves. There have been reports of police being called to a scene were a husband is being extremely aggressive towards his wife. The police feel as the situation that is occurring is not severe, and therefore leave the scene. The next day, the police station receives a call that there was a homicide. As they arrive to the scene, the police realized it was the same couple from day before.” The report details in-depth reviews of 84 cases in which 135 people died, including some instances of homicide-suicide — cases when abusers killed victims as well as themselves. In 48 of those 84 cases, police had previously responded to a domestic-violence call”- (WA Report: Criminal-Justice System Fails Domestic-Violence Victims). At times the unfettered use of discretion can lead to the denial of citizen rights, at times the unfettered use of discretion can lead to the denial of citizen rights, and cause many flaws in the justice system; for example, many communities might have different definitions of what constitutes criminal behavior or what
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?
Everyday police officers are faced with two difficult decision to make. Whether to intervene in the situation and how to intervene when they observe something suspicious or illegal happening. Police discretion is defined as having the power to make decision, and choosing how to respond to a given situation depending on the circumstances. Even though, there are law in place it is still up to a police officer own discretion. Ultimately, police officers have the choice to enforce the law and how to carry it out in public. In the text book “Policing America” by Ken Peak he states that there are two criminal law in discretion. “the formality and the reality. The formality is found in the statute books and opinions of appellate courts; the reality is found in the practices of enforcement officers” (82). He also, demonstrate when should each criminal law be use. However, there are negative and positive aspects of police discretion. Also, there are pros and cons of allowing patrol officers to make discretionary decisions.
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 officer’s discretion. Discretion leads to selective enforcement practices and may result in discrimination against certain groups of people or select individuals (Young, 2011). Most police officer discretion is exercised in situations with individuals (Sherman, 1984).
Discretion in policing and the court system is a necessary and unavoidable facet of criminal justice work, yet it is still very controversial. Discretion exists when courtroom actors (police officers, attorneys, judges) have the flexibility to choose an appropriate response to a situation. Police discretion is defined as “The opportunity of law enforcement officers to exercise choice in their daily activities” (Nowacki, 2015). This means that actors with a great deal of discretion at their disposal may allow biases to affect their decision-making. These decisions lead to important implications throughout the criminal justice process, especially in the courtroom. The process begins with the decision to arrest by a law enforcement officer in the field. Once the case is forwarded to the prosecuting attorney, multifarious avenues of discretionary decisions are available to resolve a case. Potential issues that could arise and that are ever-present in everyday policing include racism, sexism and socialism (Miller, 2015). These issues ultimately have a negative affect on the criminal justice process, leading civilians to not trust the one process and actors that are there to help them. While discretion should play a role in the actions a courtroom actor takes and cannot be eliminated entirely, instead it should be limited and controlled throughout the criminal justice environment so that citizens can once again trust the process and so that there will be no disparities.
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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
With such a broad volume of discretion apparently in nearly every aspect of police decision making what strengths does this level of discretion have? Police work and the work environment require the use of discretion. Decisions must be made very quickly, usually without time for input from another source. This is despite the fact that a bureaucratic structure exists for the department as a whole. Moreover, communities cannot agree on what constitutes criminal behavior or the level to which criminal behavior should be sanctioned or ignored. A prime example is that of the skid-rows areas. The approach taken by most police in dealing with the skid-row “problem” or
Today, police discretion is a very important aspect to the criminal justice field. There are different substances where discretion is not discipline enough or not monitored enough even though having discretion is not always bad. There are still ways to abuse it and today police officers have their own way of using police discretion for different situations. Discretion can be defined as someone having the power or authority to make a decision based on what they feel should be done in a certain situation. Police officers are taught how to handle certain situations according the law. But when the officer is on duty no one is there to make sure that they are making the right decisions that follow the law and according to the law, there are not set guidelines in the law for police discretion which give the police officer an advantage. Discretion is used by police officers when they are facing a decision with a bunch of results that could handle the situation but the officer has control to pick which result they would want to choose.
One of the biggest debates when talking about police discretion is do police officers enforce the law equally in all situations. It’s a little hard for officers to treat every situation the same way. When someone runs a red light because they were late meeting friends at a bar it is almost
Police Agencies in modern society are a part of the American fabric to serve and protect the American public. The United States currently have more than 15,000 police agencies, (Walker & Katz, 2011). Police Departments across the United States face similar critical issues policing. All police officers face dangers in the job of policing the dangers can emanate from internal and external origins. Police officers have continued to evolve to serve communities by finding better less than lethal alternatives to weapons used. In addition, police departments have continued to keep up with
Police officers are given a significant amount of discretion simply due to the nature of the job. Officers are faced with many threatening situations forcing them to react quickly, yet appropriately. They have the power to infringe upon any citizen’s rights to freedom and therefore they must use this power effectively. One major concern with the amount of discretion officers have is their power to decide when to use force or when to use lethal force. Manning (1997) argues that it is generally accepted that police should be allowed to use force. He also explains that there are an uncertain amount people who agree on as to what constitutes excessive force. The line
Discretion is not doing as you please. Discretion is bounded by norms. The future of policing as a profession depends upon whether discretion can be put to good use. Two problems impending police professionalization, however, in that there are few uncontroversial areas in police work, than in other professions. Sometimes the public wants no enforcement, and other times they want strict enforcement. Citizens will scream false arrest in the first case, and some groups may file a write of mandamus in the second case.
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 must use their discretion wisely. Until 1956, people thought of police discretion as “taboo”. According to http://faculty.ncwc.edu/toconnor/ 205/205lect09.htm, “The attitude of police administrators was that any deviation from accepted procedures was extralegal and probably a source of corruption.
Gathering data and researching material is very important within the criminal justice system. No matter what profession one may have within the judicial system, researching information is something that has to be done at one time or another. Within this paper I plan on discussing what I’ve learned about research for criminal justice and its criteria. Emphases of this paper are to give some informational data on police officers and why they choose protecting the community a profession.