When it comes to the subject of ethics, if one does not have a strong moral and ethical character before entering law enforcement, it is a subject that can rapidly become a gray area as their career continues. The importance of reinforcing ethical training and its prominence in the daily lives of an officer goes unattended and forgotten. One of the commonly misused acts of authority is discretion. One may think they are doing the right thing, and that may even be the case, but if it does not coincide with department regulations, then the officer could unknowingly be breaking the law. Discretion is not only about helping a civilian out in a way that seems best for them; it is the way that the officer can best serve the civilian according to
Discretion of a police officer is the subject I would like to tackle. In this paper I will discuss the issues I have with the discretion, the problems with these discretions I have, and how some officers may use discretion to their advantage. By the conclusion of the paper the reader will be educated on the subject of discretion and the issues facing it.
Discretion is the decision making power that police officers may have at a crime scene. As stated in the excerpt read, after he learns the facts he will know what course of action to take to meet the needs of the people. Sometimes that means not following procedures. If the officer followers procedures exactly, the people may not be helped fully which can be frustrating. If the officer follows their own judgement, they are taking a risk.
Law enforcement faces ethical decisions on a daily basis due to their responsibilities in protecting its citizens. The decisions they make affect the views of society towards police departments. With the use of police discretion, officers include various criteria in making those decisions. Control mechanisms contribute to the enforcement of laws that constantly change, directly changing an officers discretion in situations where decision making plays an intricately significant role.
Discretion is a prevalent feature found within the Criminal Justice System; from prosecutors, judges to the sheer forefront of the organisation, with the police who act as the ‘gate-keepers’; having the freedom to act according to his or own judgment; a key feature of routine police work (Waddington 2008: 267; Jones 2009). Researchers of policing have identified that police work is intrinsically discretionary in that it encompasses exercise of choice and judgment at “every level of police work, especially at the micro level” (Finanne, 1990: 218). Low policing exercises of discretion (stop and search, investigation, arrest, etc), have absorbed scholars’ attention who have recognised that officers “on the beat” make proportionately unsupervised decisions; where challenges arise when achieving efficient accountability for their implementations of discretion.
Furthermore, following accountability comes with setting limits on police officers. With an array amount of discretion, officers need to have limits on their discretion. Certain limits that affect their discretion include the code of conduct, in which all police officers must abide by. “The tools, methods, and institutional interactions of public law enforcement are changing to meet the challenges this environment has created”, thus problems of misconduct and deviance will arise (Cawthray, Prenzler, Porter, 2013, p.188). The code of conduct “has been developed to outline the limits of police powers [and within the codes of ethics] bring ethical guidelines that can be built into police training and disciplinary processes” (Cawthray, Prenzler,
“Discretion is the availability of a choice of options or actions one can take in a situation” (Dempsey 143). Discretion is a huge part of being a police officer because you come across problems that give you many options to choose from and as an officer you must be ready to make a quick choice. Police officer must face tough choices that involve a small amount of thinking and can put their lives at risk. Discretion is not only used by officers but by every living person that has to make everyday choices, such as waking up for school or not waking up. Problems we see today concerning excessive force from police can be because of bad discretion and that can be because they’re afraid or just they just simply don’t care.
The appropriate use of police discretion is an essential factor in policing. According to Merriam- Webster, discretion is “the quality of having or showing discernment or good judgment”. A police officer is in constant use of their personal knowledge and experience when dealing with situations. Conditions are constantly changing and officers are obligated to trust their instincts and do what they have been trained to do. However, there are instances where officers are tainted by personal experiences, in which can ultimately result in a negative experience with the community. This concept varies throughout each department and each officer. One’s discretion, may be different from another, making this notion fairly hard to control in the line of duty.
How prevalent is police discretion and why does it exist? Can discretion be eliminated? Should it be? Due Date March 11 2005
Discretion is, by googles definition, "the freedom to decide what should be done in a particular situation". In a perfect world such power should be granted to all members of law enforcement without question. Unfortunately, we don't live in a fairytale world. Realistically speaking, the search for a human being willing to abuse any power that has been bestowed upon them, such as discretion, is short lived. Although the duties of an officer include the use of discretion to uphold the law in an attempt to punish the guilty, not all those who walk the beat follow the rules. Case in point, former officer Michael T. Slager. On April 4 2015, Walter L. Scott was stopped for a broken taillight. What appeared to be a routine interaction between officer