Gender Diversity in Discretionary Decisions During Citizen-Police Encounters

Gender Diversity in Discretionary Decisions During Citizen-Police Encounters

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Police Officers have the ability to exercise discretionary control within the realms of their day to day enforcement decisions. They are able to do this without judgment from their peers. This is understood to be one of the few allowances of autonomy given to an officer. Ultimately, a decision to arrest or issue a ticket should be based on the totality of circumstances and should not be related to gender. But in reality, female officers bring a different set of perspectives and experiences to policing and in some instances, are held to a different standard than their male counterparts.
Women still have to prove themselves in a male-dominated workplace. It’s the experiences and viewpoint a police officer brings to the job, along with the desire to uphold the law for the safety of the public that affects discretionary decisions, of which gender is a factor. I do not believe that female officers make similar discretionary decisions during citizen-police encounters than their male counterparts.
Depending upon your view, police discretion can be seen as a beneficial way to deal with some of the less serious crimes or it can be seen as an opportunity for police to abuse their discretion. Selective enforcement of the law allows police to set their priorities according to the greatest need for a particular time. They can use their autonomy to assess a situation and if they deem it appropriate, disregard taking any further action by ignoring the offense completely or issuing a warning.
As citizens, we hope that when police use their vast judgment to decide the course of an action, they are doing it without discriminating, violating ethical codes, using inappropriate means, or putting someone in danger (by not making an a...


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...ity to the victims and believe that citizens see them as “less dangerous and fostering better community relations with the citizens they represent.” (Policework, 2009, p. 122)
Female officers have a unique perspective. I believe that as a whole these differences benefit citizens during citizen-police encounters, even if it means that their discretionary decisions are different than that of their male counterparts.




Works Cited

Carlson, D. P. (2005). When Cultures Clash - Strategies for Strengthening Police-Community Relations. Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson Education.
Novak, K., Brown, R. A., & Frank, J. (2006). Women on Patrol: Analysis of Differences in Officer Arrest Behavior.
Policework, P. o. (2009). Rabe-Hemp, Cara. Feminist Criminology, 114-129.
Walker, S., & Katz, C. M. (2011). The Police in America - An Introduction. New York: McGraw-Hill.


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