Police Discretion and Corruption

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The Fine Line between Police Discretion and Corruption


In today’s law enforcement agencies there is a fine line between discretion and corruption. Imagine that you are a police officer, you pull over a car that you suspect is driven by someone who has had too much to drink. Upon reaching the window you find that it’s an old friend from school. Do you take him to jail or do you take him home? Police officers have the power to make this decision. In the world of the officer this could be a case of discretion but in the eye of the public it would most likely it would be considered corruption.

The Fine Line between Police Discretion and Corruption

Police corruption is a major problem for our society. It has been a growing problem since the days of Prohibition. One major concern is how to separate corruption and discretion. Studies have been taken and the results show that officers have different opinions on what corruption is and how it should be dealt with. (Klockers, 2005, p.102) The surveys were conducted on different departments; in turn different agencies have different cultures of integrity so the survey’s accuracy could be questioned (p.102). With the information from the studies we only know that officers have different opinions on what is corruption and what is discretion.

The combination of power, authority, and discretion in police work produces great potential for abuse. Police corruption is a complex problem, which has no solution. It is a problem that has and will continue to affect us all, whether we are civilians or law enforcement officers. Police corruption has increased dramatically with the illegal cocaine trade, and the officer acting alone or in-groups to steal money from dealer and/or distribute cocaine themselves. Large groups of corrupt police officers have been caught in New York, New Orleans, Washington, Dc, and Los Angeles. Corruption within police departments falls into two basic categories; internal...
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