, Skolnick and Fyfe, and Walker, that conclude racial discrimination has been found in several policing duties, facilitated by police discretion, including shootings, use of force, arrests, street stops, offense charging, search and seizure, and equality of coverage. Police discretion allows for this discrimination to occur.
Skogan and Frydl (2004) concur that police discretion is an increased concern, in relation to racial profiling and discrimination. The authors surmise that pro-active special units often make street stops and searches, in location oriented patrols of high crime areas. This results in the civil liberties of innocent citizens often being impinged upon, due to the officer's misuse of their discretion in this strategy. This further gives rise to the mistrust of officers, among the greater community.
Authors' Positions - Which Agree and Which Disagree:
Bayley and Nixon (2010) discuss police discretion in regards to it's effects on racial discrimination and continuing concerns regarding accountability in law enforcement. They do not offer a direct opinion regarding discretion's benefits or disadvantages, other than the fact that it can be used to foster these concerns. Klockstars (1980) would agree that police use of discretion can foster certain concerns of misuse; however, Klockstars would also surmise that the strategies police must use to do their job effectively and keep themselves safe, are the catalysts to the misuse of police discretion.
In contrast, Skogan and Frydl (2004) see police discretion as both a benefit and a disadvantage to society. They theorize that because of the vague nature of an officer's directives, coupled with often competing responsibilities, only through discretion can they perform their jobs effectively. However, in instances where policing strategies, such as specialized units, are used, this discretion can have a tendency to be misused, are perceived as being misused, as is the case of racial profiling.
Wilson (1968) would concur with Skogan and Frydl (2004). Not only is discretion necessary to put into use vague mandates, but also discretion needs to be used with the competing, and sometimes...
This is demonstrated, by Wilson, with the variety of questions an officer may ask him or herself in a situation, when deciding to make an arrest. These include,
Has anyone been hurt or deprived? Will anyone be hurt or deprived, if I do nothing? Will an arrest improve the situation or only make matters worse? Is a complaint more likely if there is no arrest, or if there is an arrest? What does the sergeant expect of me? Am I
getting near the end of my tour of duty? Will I have to go to court on my day off? If I do appear in court, will the charge stand up or will it be withdrawn or dismissed by the prosecutor? Will my partner think that an arrest shows I can handle things or that I can't handle things? What will the guy do if I let him go? (p. 84)
Clearly, these myriad of questions shows that an officer is not simply concerned with whether or not a law has been broken, but all of the other facets that come into play. Without discretion, there would only be black and white, which would not necessarily serve the best interests of society as a whole.
In the end, police discretion is a powerful and necessary tool. Every situation imaginable cannot be predetermined. However, along with the benefits of allowing officers to do their job effectively, the misuse of police discretion is a very real concern. Policing strategies have been developed and implemented, in an effort to reduce crime. Many of these do increase accountability; however, some may lead to increased incidences of misuse of police discretion. With current concerns about racial profiling and racial discrimination affecting police across the country, officers must be certain to be careful in use of discretion, if they wish to maintain the public's trust.
Bayley, DH, & Nixon, C. (2010). The changing environment for policing, 1985-2008 . Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Kennedy School Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management.
Klockstars, C. (1980). The Dirty Harry problem. The Annals of the American Academy, 452, 33-47.
Skogan, W.G., & Frydl, K. (2004). Fairness and effectiveness in policing the evidence. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Walsh, W. (2001). "Compstat: An analysis of an emerging police managerial paradigm." Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management, 24(3). pp. 347-362.
Weisburd, D., & Neyroud, P. (2011). Police science…
Furthermore, there is often a veil of silence from witnesses in these types of assaults, which makes investigation very difficult. However, when an officer exercises the discretion to treat these incidents as lesser-crimes, he reinforces the devaluation of the gang members and actually increases the validity of the gang culture. Furthermore, gang violence does not occur in isolation, and it is unfair to the non-criminal members of gang-afflicted communities
706). Yet, this clearly does not eliminate the possibility of abuse of power and wrongful use of police discretion as the disproportionate application of justice upon those of lower class and of minority races is fundamentally present in both lesser and greater crimes. III. If you were a supervisor within a police department, how would you manage or control the discretionary practices of your officers? One of the most important aspects
Police Discretion The execution of discretion in judgment among police officers has been studied for decades (De Lint, 1998). Before the 1960's, For some three decades now it has been established knowledge that police officers use discretion (De Lint, 1998). Through the 1960's, officers were expected to use "common sense," with little attention paid to analyzing situations where discretion was called for or for applying specific training to improve the kinds of
Police and Juvenile Delinquency According to the numbers published on the National Institute of Justice, in 2010, the number of arrests of juveniles was down by a little over half the same number in 1994, when it reached its maximum. The reasons for this "recession" in juvenile arrests in the U.S. may be attributed to better results in the work of juvenile delinquency prevention as well to increased police discretion when
Therefore, it does not seem logical that a police department could exist without at least some form of discretionary decision-making. Discretion is used at just about every level of a police department, from the officers on patrol to detectives and even management. Another expert notes, "Police encounter a wide range of behaviors and a variety of situations that the law hasn't even thought about yet. One of the most amazing
police discretion? How do the internal and external mechanisms influence police discretion? Is there a better solution to improving police discretion? Police discretion is when the officer will have the responsibility to make their own determinations as to how they should be enforcing the law. The way that this is accomplished is through giving them the flexibility to decide how much emphasis they should place on dealing with specific situations.