Police Disretion

1128 words 5 pages
POLICE DISCRETION

Police officers are faced each day with a variety of situation in which they must deal; therefore we should ask ourselves the following questions: Should police officers enforce the law equally in all situations? In what situations should police officers be allowed to not enforce the law? What types of situations would they be required to fully enforce the law? Why does police discretion exist? What are its strengths and weaknesses? And what is the relationship between police discretion and police ethics? When enforcing the law, for police officers not two situations they encounter are ever the same, even when examine a large number of situations over an extended period of time. The officers are usually in the
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The police might overlook drunkenness, drug use, or prostitution as long as they remain in the skid-row area or do not grow to endanger normal society or bring severe threats to the occupants of the area. Another benefit from the use of discretion is one based in economics or resource allocation. Simply put, there just are not enough police, jails, courts, prisons, or community-based correctional programs to handle all of those who would be processed through the criminal justice system, if the police officer did not exercise discretion in his or her daily decision-making. If every encounter required specific enforcement action or exercise of a service function, then officers would be completely occupied all of the time in just those functions. That is not to mention the extremely large number of additional officers that would be needed to handle the work load. While there are certainly benefits to the police officer’s use of discretion, there are certain problems associated with the use as well. The fact that officers are all different and exercise discretion also creates a problem with the public. That problem is one of lack of consistency. Because each officer acts differently in any given situation, it becomes difficult for a citizen to know what behavior they can expect from an officer, or the behavior the officer expects from them in the situation. To some extent this can

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