Police Discretion Essay

1769 Words Apr 20th, 2008 8 Pages
Police Discretion

Police Discretion Discretion is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “the ability to make responsible decisions, individual choice or judgment, power of free decision or latitude of choice within certain legal bounds.” In law enforcement discretion is left up to each individual officer on the field everyday. Police officers are given the authority to make reasonable and responsible decisions out in the field. Discretion is used in many situations, such as when an officer chooses to stop a vehicle for a small traffic violation. There are also times when the officer has no choice but to use specific discretion in certain situations. Society believes that an officer can make any choice he or she chooses
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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, so they say. This discretion is abuse of power. However, if the case involved a couple and one had physical marks, the discretion of the officer would be to report the incident.
Traffic Violations Traffic violations are for the most part simple and to the point. The officer has a lot of discretion when it comes to traffic and infractions. When a person is pulled over for speeding, failure to yield at a stop sign, or running a red light, it is the officer’s discretion to cite the citizen for their crime. The officer can make the initial stop, and in the end just impose a warning rather than a citation. Depending on how severe the infraction is, such as running a red light, or speeding in a school zone, the officer should not have an option on whether or not to cite the individual. It would be an abuse of discretionary power if these types of infractions were not imposed with the proper punishment.
Littering
Not many officers waste their time imposing on citizens who litter. Yes, it is against the law, and the fine

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