Police Power Vs Discretion

792 Words 4 Pages
For starters, there is a large difference between “power” and “discretion.” In police organizations, power is held at the top of the organization, or “pyramid,” and from their power flows downwards, as does accountability. Discretion on the other hand is held greatly by the lower ranking individuals inside the organization. If individual officers did not have discretionary powers then they would be spending all of their time trying to get permission to perform everyone role and aspect of their jobs. Therefore, the difference between power and discretion is that power deals with the ability to make rules, while discretion is the ability to interpret and apply the rules that have been made by the people with power. Therefore, in context, the …show more content…
If all officers did not have the ability to use discretion as part of their job, they would dedicate all of their time to enforcing every violation of law they see and have minimal time for crime prevention or anything else as a matter of fact. Most people do not understand how many crimes that are committed a day and how few law enforcement officers they are to catching them. For example, according to a study conducted by the NY Times, two-thirds of all drivers exceed the speed limit daily, how could all of these offenders be arrested or even ticketed in fact? There are 100’s of millions of law violations daily, with not even a fraction of law enforcement officers to handle them. Therefore, officers must exercise discretion in choosing what laws to enforce and when, and what crimes to investigate and what crimes to rule as having insufficient evidence or invalid claims. Another reason as to why officers need to use discretion is because some crimes that are committed are factually in violation of the law but they may have to severe a punishment or would upset the community if it were to be enforced, remembering law enforcement officers are also peacekeepers and community assistances, and therefore must make a judgment call (using their discretion), and may choose not to apprehend the assailant/law breaker as a duty to the …show more content…
These departments of the criminal justice system have limited budgets and although in some cases they are paid through restitution by the defendant, in many personal victim cases that involve injury (many felonies), the only reward that comes through successful prosecution is prison, not monetary. Therefore, keeping budgets in the back of the mind, it would be financially irresponsible to enforce all petty crimes and therefore limit the budget that could be used on prosecuting and going after

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