Police Discretion and Domestic Violence Calls

Powerful Essays
Police officers have a significant level of discretion when ethical decision making is incorporated in deciding how to respond to a domestic violence call. For example, officers exercise discretion by deciding how to respond to domestic violence when a situation involves a fellow officer. America is a country in which many believe in privacy within the household and often choose not to be involved in a domestic dispute because families should resolve their own problems. However, discretionary powers abused by an officer are used to dissuade the victim from filing charges against the officer’s colleague. Officers often do not choose to arrest in a domestic dispute because they believe the family, not the justice system, should resolve the problem. If the police officer abuses his discretionary power by persuading the victim to not file charges, then he is going against community policing. This is because, he is not serving the interests of the community, but rather the code of silence within a police department. This discretion is exercised even more when the domestic violence situation involves an off duty police officer. When police officers commit domestic violence against their spouse it is usually explained by the fact that police officers deal with difficult citizens on a daily basis on the streets and as a result of the high levels of stress on the job bring their frustrations home and spouse becomes the scapegoat for his feelings (Wetendorf, 1998:3).

In the past, when officers have responded to domestic violence calls from police officer’s wives, they would identify with the officer and favor their colleague rather than treating the incident as a criminal offense (Wetendorf, 1998:1). In many situations officers wo...

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... Gerry Sergeant (2004). Public Relations Officer with the Flagstaff Police Department, was interviewed by the author on November 4, 2004

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