Police Discretion

Topics: Crime, Police, Criminal justice Pages: 4 (1260 words) Published: February 24, 2014

Police Discretion
Jocelyn Golphin
University of the District of Columbia
Criminal Justice System

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Police discretion is a very important approach in matters concerning criminal justice. There has been a consistent problem between enforcing the law and the spirit of the law. Discretion in the broader sense can be defined as the individual’s ability to make a decision basing on the principle of courses of the action. During training, police officers are given different possible scenarios that they may experience while on duty. However, the situations presented are not exact and the police come face to face with more riveting situations that demand their personal choices. The laws don’t cover all perspectives and there are always new laws being put in place allowing for the police officers to use discretion in the mean time.

There are also situations in which the law is unclear and the police officer will disregard the different interpretations of the law and utilize his or her discretion in arriving at a decision (Rivera, 2006). Police discretion is usually put to use when the officers are presented with many options to come up with one choice they think are necessary depending on the situation at hand. Discretion is the void in the middle of a ring consisting of policies and procedures. However, police are not always supposed to utilize discretion. In some occasions, the law and departmental policies do limit or eliminate the discretion altogether. Discretion is usually constrained by certain norms including professional, legal, social, and moral norms (Scott, 2009).

The police discretion considers many factors which can be compiled into three broad categories. These are the offenders’ variables which include those aspects that are directly connected to the offender including age, race, economic status, gender, and health.

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The police will empathize and offer pep talk to some law...

References: Baker, Al. (2010) “Police Discretion is Issued in Injured Bystanders Suit”. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com on February 22,2014
Reno, J., Fisher, R., Robinson, L., Brennan, N., Travis, J., “Broken Windows and Police Discretion”. Retrieved from www.ncjrs.com on February 22, 2014
Schmalleger, Frank (2013) “Police Discretion” chpt.4. Criminal Justice: A Brief Introduction 10th Ed.
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