Police Officer Discretion Policy Analysis

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The policy analysis will expand on attached draft by adding 10 pages, developing remaining dimensions of the project by making revisions. This may require the completion of additional research and the preparation of additional materials to address unresolved dimensions of the analysis. Revise, reformulate, and adapt the material as needed in order to submit a paper that fully complies with the project expectations. The final Policy Analysis should be approximately 20 pages in length, excluding title page, abstract, and reference list. All formatting, references, and citations should conform to APA guidelines. Use headers and sub-headers to organize your analysis. Suggested sections of the project include: Introduction (statement of the issue). Analysis of the policy’s historical development. Analysis of the social, political, legal, and economic forces that influenced the development and emergence of the policy. Identification and analysis of the policy’s current outcomes and unanticipated consequences. Evaluation of research assessing the policy’s current outcomes and unanticipated consequences. Description of policy improvements or enhancements. Description and evaluation of the research methods used to assess the outcomes of your proposed modifications. Conclusion or summary. Carefully proofread your work to avoid excessive errors (typos, issues with grammar, run-on sentences, incomplete sentences, and so on). The analysis should use a minimum of 15 resources, at least ten of which much be peer-reviewed research articles.

Running Head: POLICE OFFICER DISCRETION POLICY ANALYSIS 1

Police Officer Discretion Policy Analysis

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The judgment which police officers apply while operating within the field is termed as police discretion. It involves the making of decisions by the police officers to let a law offender go free after strongly reprimanding him or her, or imprisoning the individual even though he or she has committed an offense which is minor because they pose danger to other people or even themselves. It is necessary to allow the utilization of discretion by police officers because most laws were crafted narrowly and thus cannot fit appropriately in every situation. Nevertheless, the degree within which the police officers are supposed to use discretion has triggered a bitter debate, especially when a police officer’s decision is considered to be wrong. The police discretion debate started in around 1956 after a study done by a certain bar association within America alleged to have led to its “discovery”. Within the course of liberal years of 1960s to 1970s, more cries arose calling for the strict limitation or total elimination of the discretion policy. Police discretion offenders argue that, with its absence, police officer will not be in the position of undertaking their duties efficiently. Police officers have to evaluate countless variables, for instance, the presence of prior record, the violent nature of the crime and the magnitude of harm inflicted on the victim (Walker, 2005).

Due to various reasons, the utilization of discretion by police officers has been associated with several benefits as well as problems. Basically, the uncontrolled application of discretion can result to the abuse of the citizens’ rights. It is therefore essential to formulate strategies which control the utilization of discretion. The focus of this paper will be assessing the benefits along with problems associated with the police discretion policy and the controlling strategies which should be implemented (Muir, 1977).

Generally, the kind of work done by the police and their working environment necessitate the utilization of the discretion policy. The police officers are expected to make quick decisions, especially without relying on any other external source. This is usually the case in spite of the bureaucratic structure which is present within the police department. Besides, the nature of most laws calls for the utilization of the police officers’ discretion while making interpretation of the actual statutory text meaning. Due to the diverse interpretations which can be made on a certain law, it is impossible to have the law being enforced uniformly without the officers’ discretion. In addition, the communities cannot universally make a consensus on what pertains criminal behavior or the magnitude at which the criminal behavior can be sanctioned or overlooked. It is therefore upon the police officer to make an informed decision which will not result to the emergence of a controversy. The skid-rows regions are perfect areas within which police officers have to make use of discretion. The containment approach is mostly used by the officers while dealing with skid-row “crimes”. Police officers utilize their discretion to allow specific crimes to go on within the skid-rows region with little or no police intervention at all. Police officers usually ignore drug use or even drunkenness on the condition that they do not extend beyond skid-row region boundaries or do not have the potential of endangering the normal society (Klinger, 1997).

The discretion policy within the police force is also quite beneficial when it comes to resource allocation within the police department. In case that the officers do not utilize discretion and ignore certain crimes in their daily decision making process, there could not be enough courts as well as correction facilities to deal with all those individuals who violate the laws. In the situation that every crime encounter required certain set enforcement by the police officers, then a lot of public funds would be spend on recruiting additional officers who will be in position of dealing with the heavy workload. These aspects affirm to the necessity of allowing the discretion policy to continue existing within the police department.

Even though there are various benefits associated with the utilization of discretion by police officers, several specific problems have also been linked to its use. The police officers are different in nature and thus they are bound to exercise discretion in quite different ways. This fact makes the public to really oppose the application of the discretion policy. The public hold the view that with the utilization of discretion, there will always be the absence of constituency. Due to the fact that every officer reacts differently while dealing with the same offense, it turns out as difficult for the citizens to forecast on an officer’s behavior when they get them committing an offense. In a way, this can result to the emergence of distrust within the police and the general public and eventually the rise of unnecessary confrontations amongst the two. Nevertheless, the uncontrolled use of the discretion policy happens to be its greatest problem. The uncontrolled utilization of the discretion policy is considered as a deep problem especially when it comes to the sector of individual rights violation and the uniform protection of all laws. Part of the individual rights protection entails the usage of force. With the absence of the limitation of the force which an officer can apply on the offender, citizens who commit various offenses can find themselves been subjected to excessive physical abuse (Hunt, 1985).

As a result of the various problems associated with the policy, various strategies have been formulated aimed at keeping in control the utilization of the discretion policy. Even though it is unrealistic to attempt eliminating the policy as a whole due to its strong benefits; there is the need to implement effective controlling mechanisms. For instance, laws should be formulated which put a limit on the degree to which an officer can make use of discretion. Enforcement of improved supervision techniques of the patrol officers can serve as an effective controlling method. Legislatures should be formulated which bring down the areas within which police officers can utilize discretion. A “zero-tolerance” form should be imposed on certain laws which would require the police officers to automatically make arrests when it comes to specific crimes. Naturally, crimes such as domestic violence, possession of firearms along with specific drug crimes should be placed under this category. Business communities should also be allowed to take the zero-tolerance perspective whereby every shoplifter will be subjected to prosecution without the police officers’ intervention. Nevertheless, certain benefits associated with police discretion tend to oppose the specified control mechanisms. It is therefore essential to ensure that the controlling mechanism do not interfere negatively with the associated benefits. The controlling mechanisms can however face implementation obstacles due to the variance of the officers’ perspective with that of the general public (Engel, 2003).

In conclusion, the benefits associated with police discretion are helpful to both the functioning of the police officers as well as the well being of the community. It makes a provision for fast, sometimes within a split of a second, in the process of making decisions within the police department. It creates a specific degree of law vagueness, therefore enabling police officers to resolve certain marginal situations in accordance to the present conditions. Moreover, it significantly reduces the amount of resources required to offer an efficient system of administering criminal justice. It is however important to note that the benefits remain realizable as long as the utilization of discretion remains under control. In the event that discretion is left to be utilized by the police officers uncontrollably, there is the like hood of infringing the rights of citizens which are offered protection by the Nation’s constitution along with laws. In such a situation, the police relationship with the general public gets compromised with and the public will most probably detest the police officers. Restraining the degree to which the police officers ought to practice discretion is the most effective procedure of making discretion beneficial to both the police officers along with ordinary citizens. Within the U.S as well as any other Nation, discretion should never by any circumstance be eliminated due to the various benefits associated with it. As much as the general human nature, that is, the variance in the police officers’ characteristics along with personalities will act as an obstacle to the discretion control; more efforts should be concerted on ensuring that it is practiced in a controlled manner (Walker, 2005).

References

Bittner, E. (1967). The police on skid row: A study of peace keeping. American
Sociological Review. 32(5): 699-715.

Bittner, E. (1970). The quasi-military organization of the police. The Functions of the Police in Modern Society. 23 (4): 52-62.

Engel, R. S. (2003). How police supervisory styles influence patrol officer behavior. Research for Practice, National Institute of Justice. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

Goldstein, H. (1977). Categorizing and structuring discretion. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing Company.

Hunt, J. (1985). Police accounts of normal force. Urban Life. 13(4): 315-341.

Klinger, D. A. (1997). Negotiating order in patrol work: An ecological theory of police response to deviance. Criminology. 35(2): 277-306.

Klockars, C. B. (1980). The Dirty Harry problem. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, 452: 33-48.

Jack R. G. & Stephen D. M. (1988). Community Policing: Rhetoric or Reality. New York, NY: Praeger.

Muir, W. (1977). Police Streetcorner Politicians. Chicago, CH: University of Chicago
Press.

Van Maanen, J. (1974). Working the street: A developmental view of police behavior. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

Peter, K.M & Van Maanen, J. (1987). Policing: A View from the Street. Santa Monica, CA: Goodyear Publishing.

Walker, S. & Katz, C. M. (2002). The Police in America: An Introduction. Boston, MA: McGraw Hill.

Rumbaut, R. G. & Bittner, E .(1979). “Changing Conceptions of the Police Role: A Sociological Review”. Crime and Justice: A Review of Research (1): 239–288

Kennedy, D.B., Homant, R. J., Kennedy, J. F. (1992). “Comparative Analysis of Police Vehicle Pursuit Policies”. Justice Quarterly 2: 227–246.

Walker, S. (2005). The New World of Police Accountability. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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