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Police Discretion (Essay Sample)


discuss/debate police discretion, and some of the specific control mechanisms available to include i.e., internal control mechanisms, external control mechanisms, control by the citizens, legislative control, and control by the courts. In doing so, discuss if, you were the Sheriff of County X; how you would assess and evaluate the arrests made by your deputies to make sure the enforcement of the law was equitable (free from biased based policing)?


Police Discretion
Police Discretion
The aspect of police work is complex and in this way, police officers play a crucial role in dealing with various tasks. These tasks include enforcing the law, maintaining order, and other miscellaneous responsibilities. In this way, they hold prominent positions that require them to safeguard people’s morals, standards, and even values. It is in this context that police discretion comes into place. Discretion is an important aspect in the criminal justice system to guide police in making decisions. Police discretion calls for one to make the difficult choices while exercising sound judgment even though it is subject to scrutiny (Hall, 1998).
Police discretion denotes the ability of an officer to use his/her own judgment to decide on the best action. Discretion differs from situation to situation depending on what the officer is dealing with at the time. For example, if an officer stops a motorist who is over speeding but does not have any prior criminal record, the officer may choose to give him/her a ticket or let the motorist off with just a warning. Discretion is bound by constraints and, therefore, police officers cannot make decisions anyhow because their choices have consequences (Hall, 1998).
In support of discretion, research shows that the nature of police work calls for discretion because officers operate in situations where they are constantly in contact with citizens. In these situations, police officers are required to make swift decisions and there is no second party to provide an input. The idea of statutory text also makes discretion possible. This is because it is impossible to equally enforce the law because of the various interpretations for a particular law. Additionally, resource limitation in the criminal justice system calls for discretion. For example, there are limited jails courts and prisons for everyone with an offense to be placed, but when police officers use discretion, some minor crimes do not reach the criminal justice system (Weitzer & Tuch, 2005).
However, there are also problems associated with police discretion. For instance, police officers are different and in this way, they exercise discretion differently. This means there is a lack of consistency because every officer acts differently in each situation. In reality, the public does not know what to expect from the police in different situations and this can lead to distrust, as well as conflict. Another disadvantage of discretion is that it can easily be abused. The issue of discrimination and prejudice may feature during discretion as officers have control over decisions that affect...
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