Police Discretion Case Study

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In this essay a discussion will be explored about the benefits and problems associated with police use of discretion. Which current policing strategies have the most potential for controlling officer discretion and providing accountability, and which have the least, and why is that the case? And finally, how might these issues impact the various concerns facing law enforcement today? Police behavior is different across all communities. In fact, how police react to combat crime is affected by the management style of the various police administrators. Also, local politics will have a strong influence on how police react to crime. When police respond to a call, they will make a determination of the “cost and benefits” of their reaction. How …show more content…
In his article, The Police on Skid-Row: A Study of Peace Keeping, Egon Bittner said, police officers’ role as peace keeper in their training manuals only gave passing attention to this aspect of the job role. He also repeated the point that departments usually do not keep records of processes that do not involve making an arrest. When officers warn, discipline, without making an arrest, there is consensus that they are serving in their role as peace-keeper. In their role as peace-keepers on skid-row, officers deal with persons who are viewed as people not fully accountable for their actions. They are seen as people who need continuous attention and are in need of special procedures. In most cases a department will assign an officer to these areas on a fairly permanent basis and allow them to use their own discretion in running things. The officers’ supervisor takes for granted that the patrolman assigned to these areas primary business is to keep the peace, and not necessarily to control crime. Officers are aware that often the demands they make on the inhabitants on skid-row are a violation of their due process rights. Officers feel that the control they exert over the people on skid-row is in harmony with standard expectations. The large amount of discretion that officers have, although accepted by standard practices, when dealing with residents on skid-row, is still somewhat …show more content…
The District Attorney has discretionary power to decide the disposition of cases. One of the primary ways that the District Attorney uses its’ discretion is in how he processes plea-bargaining. The District Attorney may reduce a defendants’ exposure to a crime if he provides some pieces of information that he needs to prosecute a bigger player in the narcotics trade. It has been said that the administration of justice is a selective process in which only those cases that will not overload the system will ultimately be prosecuted (Cole, 1970) Also the courts use a great deal of discretion in the way it disposes of cases. Because the District Attorney can only have a certain amount of cases on backlog, at times at the end of the year, the court will assist in reducing the amount of backlogged cases by changing the manner it disposes of cases, with pleas and placing more people on probation. Police departments further use a measure of discretion in the way it allocates resources. To accomplish that goal, they develop differential response systems to distinguish between emergency and non-emergency calls (Skogen &ump; Frydell) Some members of the minority communities feel they were being shortchanged by the way police departments disperse officers to calls for

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