When Does Police Discretion Cross Boundaries?

1577 words (6 pages) Essay in Law

18/05/20 Law Reference this

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Introduction

The purpose of this research paper is to examine the topic “The Use Of Discretion and when does it cross boundaries “ ? There are controversial arguments that need to be addressed and point of views that need to be stated.

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I will began to define discretion the background and how it connects to law enforcement, Furthermore I will than cover the range of how law enforcement should use discretion, Why it’s important, What are the effects that could cause discretion to be thrown out. Finally to conclude this paper I will state my opinion/stand and my reasons on choosing this topic.

Law enforcement is any mechanism by which certain members of society behave in an organized way to implement the law by finding, dissuading, rehabilitating, or punishing individuals who breach the laws and norms that govern that community.

Discretion relates to an official action made by an official of criminal justice system, such as police officer, attorney or judge, etc., in which they use their own best judgement the best course of action in any circumstance. In theory, before determining whether or not legal action should be taken against an individual, the criminal justice official considers the totality of circumstances and how they would handle it.

It should also be demonstrated that discretion is also “an legal authority, privilege, or prerogative to use moral judgment on how to make a practical determination. Limitations are incorporated” (Kleinig, 1996, p. 3). Thus, elected officials of criminal justice such as the police lack the ability to go out and make choices freely without consequences. When practicing politely, they are bound by rules, laws and regulations.

Before determining whether or not legal action should be taken against an individual, the criminal justice official considers the totality of circumstances. And to what extent  action has been taken (for example, Walker & Katz, 2005), issuing a warning, or simply arresting an individual in the occurrence of law enforcement.

When law violations were stated by police officers, they wrote a verbal warning or made an arrest. Prosecutors would then prosecute the case to the letter of the law, and judges would transfer inflexible sentences that were the same for every offender regardless of position in life or circumstances (Gaines & Kappeler, 2003, p. 248).

In the 1950s. There had been nearly nothing known about discretion it was  believed to be non-existent in the field of criminal justice, and it was certainly not acknowledged by those who exercised it.

When law violations were stated by police officers, they wrote a verbal warning or made an arrest. Prosecutors would then prosecute the case to the letter of the law, and judges would transfer inflexible sentences that were the same for every offender regardless of position in life or circumstances (Gaines & Kappeler, 2003, p. 248).

Police discretion and, however, the criminal justice system were considered as illegal and unacceptable. Law enforcement were there to speak directly to profession “by the book” by implementing the law’s comprehensive letter. With all the corruption that occurred during this time in the criminal justice system, recognizing that discretion was evident and played an substantial and significant role in the day-to-day job of the police officers. (Sherman, 1984; Kelling & Coles, 1996).

Until 1956, when the American Bar Foundation (ABF) performed an inquiry finding that discretion was functioning at all levels of the criminal justice system, that discretion was “found” and revealed. In Kansas, Michigan and Wisconsin, this research was conducted.

Results on behalf of law enforcement has shown that “police” work is challenging, police use tremendous discretion, discretion is at the heart of police functioning, and police use criminal law to address numerous problems” (Kelling, 1999, p. 6).

In addition, it has also been uncovered that police use much greater discretion than most other authorities of criminal justice. This is because, as pointed out earlier; police are the first calling point that behaves as gatekeepers of any criminal justice system. They are therefore among the most significant political makers in society because they make far more discretionary decisions regarding citizens within the communities. (Kleinig, 1996; Kelling & Coles, 1996).

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Positive and Negative uses of discretion and sufficient proof to support both opposing claims have been recorded. This is where the practice of exercising discretion in law enforcement became contentious, as individuals did not believe that by using discretion the police could preserve a reasonable equilibrium between control of crime and due process (Gaines & Kappler, 2003).

Firstly, The first concerning issues in regards of discretion, the effects that can cause discretion to be thrown out/ dismissed.

Biggest of them all, communication between law enforcement and community/ personnel and characteristics of offenders. Police discretion is therefore affected by the conditions surrounding the scenario in which an agent discovers himself / herself and how an offender introduces him / herself to them the act of respect, respect goes a long way in any situation from dealing with police, teacher, parents, and even jobs.

An example that could take that discretion into an arrest or even an ticket, such as an officer pulling you over because you’re probably speeding so in that form he pulls you over he has probable cause because you are endanger to society by speeding, he pulls you over he comes to your window he tells you why your being pulled over and you automatically catch an attitude and it leads to words being said that causes him not to even help you out by giving you a warning so he made an choice to do what he suppose to do as an officer and gives you an ticket, therefore he was going to let you go with just a warning.

Secondly, It is the behavior and communication that affects the discretion of an individual officer, because everyone has a distinct way of doing stuff and a distinct style of police. Police discretion is the variables of the environment. Local political culture basically plays a tiny impact because it is distinct for all police groups. Therefore, strategies and police procedures will vary in size.

For example in Atlanta, Georgia they have East Point Police Department, Atlanta Police Department, in this example I am going to just sum up some issues that goes on.

With East Point police department they usually don’t give you warnings from my own altercation I got pulled over one time in the east point area I received my first ticket for speeding I told the officer I didn’t really know i was hitting the dash like that but to him it was like stop speeding and here is your ticket I wasn’t rude or anything.

With Atlanta Police department I was speeding and I tried to slow down but I end up getting caught anyways on the detector they have but the officer was understanding and gave me a warning and he didn’t have to but he used discretion and I was so happy because I just received a ticket for speeding a month before it taught me a huge lesson I must say, it all just depends on that officer.

Finally, I will state my opinion and the reason I chosen Law Enforcement, I chosen law enforcement / police officers because I know the feeling of having an officer that chooses to use discretion and a officer that doesn’t really care much about giving you a ticket usually when an officer is using discretion it’s for good.

I truly respect that the officers can choose to use discretion because back than it wasn’t really a choose unless the officer did it super low key but now In this day of time officers kind of use it a lot it just all depends on how you come at them just always be respectful even if an officer is being disrespectful.

In my paper I stated the issue of criminal justice police discretion. Definitions of this action were also studied as well as thorough exploration of its history and discovery. In addition, an in-depth discussion of the primary variables that make up the two key arguments for and against. In my opinion I believe police officers truly need discretion but also limited, For any good society, discretion plays an integral part because values and morals change. The use of discretion therefore enables the police to keep up with altering societal expectations regarding what is acceptable and deviant behavior according to current norms.

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