Policing: American Police Agencies

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ILA Policing, Part I
CJA100

1. Explain the role that state law enforcement agencies play in enforcing the law, and describe the two major models of state law enforcement organization.

State-level police agencies were created in the late nineteenth century to combat specific criminal activity, and prevent further criminal activity that crossed the boundaries of cities and counties within a specific state. For instance, the Texas Rangers were created prior to Texas becoming a state (1835) and in reaction to the abundance of Mexican cattle rustlers. The centralized model combines major criminal investigations with patrolling the state's highways. The decentralized model makes a clear distinction between traffic enforcement on state highways and other law enforcement functions by forming two distinct agencies. States that use the decentralized model have other adjunct state-level agencies with enforcement powers. (*Reference of source www.rand.org)

2. What is police discretion? How does the practice of discretion by today’s offices reflect on their departments and on the policing profession as a whole? Provide one example of where police did not use an acceptable level of discretion. Cite your resource. Discretion means the police officer has a choice. For example, a police officer pulls you over for a minor traffic violation like not stopping at a stop sign he has a choice of whether to give you a ticket or a warning whether it be written or verbal. This action would be called discretion. The practice of discretion today reflects police by restricting them to not have discretion in all circumstances. Laws and department policy can limit or eliminate discretion. For example, if an officer witnesses a felony, law requires the officer arrest the suspect. And, department policy might require an officer issue citations for all seat belt violations. A good example of police not using acceptable discretion was the Rodney King case that too place in Los...
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