Ethical Dilemma’s in Decision Making
Steven A. Hayes
Throughout history law enforcement officers have been given the power and responsibility to use discretion while preforming their assigned duties. In early history, law enforcement officers were given a lot of discretion, where as now, they do not. Many laws have restricted officer discretion because of abuse. There are many different scenarios when and how an officer can use discretion and as well as how much discretion they are able to use, depending on the situation. Furthermore, in some cases for example, the use of traffic speed cameras or intersection cameras can issue tickets to unaware motorists where an actual police officer may be able to use discretion, common sense and reasoning before issuing a ticket. Discretionary decision-making is a part of officer’s duties each and every day that he or she has their uniform on. It is essential to allow officers the ability to make these kinds of decisions, but also restrict it as not to allow corruption or situations to get out of control. Officer discretion often comes under scrutiny because of unequal treatment by officers towards citizens.
Among the tremendous amount of various different areas that law enforcement gets looked at for, officer discretion is a fairly new concept. In the past, research was conducted on other areas of law enforcement to include; jurisdictional boundaries, personnel and the sharing of authority. Researchers began to notice that not all law enforcement interactions would result in a full enforcement of the law, resulting in a change in where the American Bar Association concentrated their research. After beginning with the police, researchers noted that this discretion continued onto the judges and even parole board results. Discretion of police officers often goes unchecked and the discretion is more often than not, centered on minorities. Throughout the criminal...
References: Tillyer, R., & Klahm IV, C. (2011). Searching for Contraband: Assessing the Use of Discretion by Police Officers. Police Quarterly, 14(2), 166-185. doi:10.1177/1098611111404178
Walker, S. E. (1993). Taming the system: The control of discretion in criminal justice, 1950- 1990. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
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