University of Phoenix
Introduction to Policing
Professor John W. Feltgen
June 23, 2005
In this paper I will discuss police discretion and the use of these discretionary powers in the law enforcement workplace. I will explore the mythical aspects of police discretionary powers and the source of this myth. I will further discuss the control of discretionary authority. I will name instances of law enforcement officials using their discretionary powers to enforce laws and why the exercised this privilege.
The use of discretion in law enforcement is extremely important to a police officers mission. Unfortunately, special interests, politicians, and corruption have taken its toll on the use of discretion during an officers work day. An example of how an officer use of discretion has been impeded is how we react to and enforce domestic violence situations. When an officer approaches a domestic violence call most states have made the arrest of the aggressor mandatory. Even if the officers have reason to believe that the victim may be deceitful or have alternative motives, he still must arrest and book the accused. Famous cases like the OJ Simpson trial have made the enforcement of domestic violence laws strict with very little room for error. In the State of California politicians have made the enforcement of immigration laws almost impossible. Special interest groups have taken the discretion out of the agent's hands and placed those decisions in the hands of individuals that are influenced by votes. If an agent intends on enforcing the Immigration and Nationality Act, he needs to first clear the arrest with his boss. For example while conducting a routine immigration check, the agent, come across suspected illegal aliens, the agent needs to first verify that the service has detention space then he must clear the arrest with his supervisor. The supervisor then checks to see...
References: http://faculty.ncwc.edu/toconnor/205/205lect09.htm, Police in Society, syllabus reference, Last updated: 01/06/04
Dantzker M.L., Understanding Today 's Police, Third Edition, Prentice-Hall, Inc. Copyright 2003.
Kelling, G.L., "Broken Windows" and Police Discretion, National Institute of Justice Research Report, available in PDF format at http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/nij/178259.pdf, 10/1999
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