In today's society things have changed rustically over time in law enforcement to the point that a shown act of kindness by an officer is seen as a bad thing at times. An officer is known in the professional field as a public servant, this means that they can put on the coat of many and play many roles in a community. Although an officer has duties that must be carried out on a daily basis it must be done within the guidelines of the law.
All state and local laws have codes for all laws and the punishment that can be given if convicted of these particular crimes, but as an officer there is certain discretion that can be used and he offender may get off with Just a warning. This is a part of an officers Job that sometimes will come back to haunt them. Many times an officer may give a person a warning on a simple crime and later down the road the same person commits the same offense on a higher level, now the questions that would be asked are how does this affect the community? Is there a standard for officers that show discretion? , and is this ethical in the law enforcement community? This paper will discuss the different ways that this topic could be critical to the criminal Justice community. Police Discretion Deputies and officers in day to day society faced with a vast array of situations on a daily basis that they must deal with. Law enforcement officers handle lots of issues and no two encounters or situations are the same.
Officers are on the streets daily and put into positions where they usually have to handle certain situations alone, and have little advice or intermediate supervision. This makes up the heart of discretion in an officer. The research shows that acts of discretion by officers have benefits and problems that follow these acts. Sometimes these acts can evolve into he denial of citizens' rights. According to Engel (2007), "By discretion, we in the field of criminal Justice are generally referring to official actions by criminal Justice officials, based on individuals' Judgments about the best course of action.
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Research shows that discretion can be when an officer uses legal sanctions. This can be when an officer is on a traffic stop, giving a ticket or making an arrest. The time when an officer is most at odds to use discretion is in a case of use of force: weather the amount of force or weather to use any at all. (Hunter 1985; Terrible et al. 2002. ) One there broad use could be when an officer has to make a decision on dividing the amount of services or various duties that are to be performed. Engel 2007). A prime example would be when on patrol and answering a call, assisting a stranded motorist, the amount of time spent assisting , and a third would be non-sanction, and non- service that an officer will perform such as community policing. Further research that was conducted shown by Goldstein, describes discretion in another way: Choosing Objectives Choosing Methods of intervention Choosing how to dispose of cases Choosing investigative measures Choosing Field procedures
Issuing Permits and Licenses Benefits The research that was conducted shows that Goldstein states that the natures of police work require some use of discretion in the work environment. In his work he says that officers operate in an environment that on a frequent basis where officers are alone in a community where there are citizens their presence is needed, Research in communities show that officers must make quick decisions and usually without input from other sources.
Although there is a chain of command these acts of discretion must be done without going up the chain of command. Goldstein (1977) ND Walker and Katz (2002) also point out that the very nature of "the law' is such that, in many cases, officers discretion extends to interpreting the meaning of the statutory text. It becomes, therefore, impossible to enforce the law equally due to the wide interpretation that can be a particular law'.
Other benefits from the use of discretion may be based on economics and the resources that a department may have. In many cities to make a long story short there are Just not enough officers, jails, prisons, courts, or community based programs to handle the amount of people that are processed through the criminal Justice system. Goldstein says that officers must use discretion on a daily basis in their work place because if an officer did not use discretion when answering calls then they would be completely occupied all the time.
Problems While there are benefits there are also problems with police discretion, research shows that in all agencies officers are all different and have different make up and ways of handling situations. The lack of consistency is a major problem for citizens because they never know what to expect from that particular officer. When a community builds distrust in an officer it not only creates problems with the public ND police but also can create unwarranted confrontation in communities. All too many times we see this in the news.
The one major problem of distrust and the police is when human rights are violated; this can cause major uproars in communities (Engel 2007; Bittier 1974). Conclusion It is shown that police discretion has it good and bad effects in a community. The total need of a community and how they are policed and the services that are provided, discretion most of the time provides sometimes trust but as seen in the research can also provide distrust. It provides for the quick, sometimes split second, session-making process that is involved
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