In order for the police force to understand that their powers must be used effectively and fairly, it is up to the police minister to emphasise that there will be severe implications involved if they breech these regulations. If they breech these forms of discipline, they may be suspended from duty for a certain period of time. If it is more serious, they may face police tribunal and suspended for life.
Knowing there are such harsh repercussions involved, police are hopefully wearier when using their discretion in situations. "A variety of studies have documented that police use their discretionary power of arrest more often when 'disrespect' is shown to them. " (Police Power, pp238) Irving Piliavin and Scott Briar's well-known study "police encounters and juveniles" (American Journal of sociology, pp 206-214) gives a particularly useful perspective on these aspects of discretion and differential law enforcement.
Their research demonstrated that, with the exceptions of offenders who had committed serious crimes or who were already wanted by the authorities, the disposition of juvenile cases depended largely on how a youth's character was evaluated by an officer. Such evaluations and decisions were typically limited to the information gathered by police during their actual encounters with juveniles. This, Piliavin and Briar found, had serious implications for both the accused and the system of justice as a whole.
When police officers believed that a youth's demeanor, race or style of dress were good indicators of future behavior or criminality, arrests became totally discriminatory- the youth who were arrested were those who typically did not fit the officer's idea of normalcy. This research case is so important because it is cases such as this that the police minister should become instantly aware of and in turn introduce new rules and implications for lack of police discretionary such as this. Such an act is not fair not effective.
A different level of police discretion involved decisions made by police command staff regarding departmental objectives, enforcement policies, the development of personnel and resources and budget expenditure. It is the job of the police minister to stress to their police force that command discretion is vital in the success of the police organization. It tends to be less problematic than other types of police discretion since it provides some uniform guidelines for street level decision-making.
An Example of command discretion might involve orders to clear prostitutes out of a certain area or conversely look the other way when seeing people smoking marijuana at rock concerts. Once again it is up to the police officer's discretion to take action of simply ignore the situation, however, it is vital that the police minister accentuates that although they have the freedom to ignore certain or take action in certain situations that must think carefully first before using their discretion because it could result in harsh penalties if they fail to do their job as peacekeepers and law enforcers.
Exactly how police discretion can be effectively controlled poses a complex dilemma, for it must be done in a manner that does not destroy the polar objectives of law enforcement- effective crime control and the protection of the rights of citizens. On this point, Professor Herman Goldstein commentated: "As a minimum it would seem desirable that discretion be narrowed to the point that all officers in the same agency are operating on the same wavelength.
The limits on discretion should embody and convey the objectives, priorities and operating philosophy on the agency. They should be sufficiently specific to enable an officer to make judgments in a wide variety of unpredictable circumstances in a manner that will win the approval of top administrators, that will be free of personal biases and that will achieve a reasonable degree of uniformity in handling similar incidents in the community. " (Policing a free society, pp 112).
This statement is ideally a very clear evaluation on how police should use their discretion fairly and effectively. It is also a very powerful summery by which a police minister should use as a ideology in educating police officers in how to use their discretion wisely to minimize any fault by them. "Police officers have probably been the targets of negative responses from citizens from nearly the beginnings of organized law enforcement. Accordingly, in the eyes of many, the less the police intrude into their affairs, so much the better".
(Society, crimes and criminal careers, pp 51) Sociologist James Wilson suggests that this image of the 'hated police officer' has come about because police have used their discretion carelessly and in some cases abused their power. There is an abundant testimony concerning the practice in many police stations of the 'third degree' by which officers have physically coerced confessions from suspects. Such incidents have encouraged the spread of public notions that the "police department is a haven for incompetents".
(Varieties of police behavior, pp 60) Whether or not these images square with the facts, they have contributed to the low self-esteem in which police officers are held in society. It is ample of the police minister to change such public attitudes by re-defining the police officers role in society. Police, everyday take on their roles as peacekeepers and law enforcers whether being, simply looking keeping watch on the street or in more severe cases, putting their lives at risk to protect their society and its citizens.
Social control is the most vital ingredient in a healthy and function able society. Without control, society would be disorderly and out of control. Without the police force there would be no one to protect a person when a car illegally drives through a red light and more importantly there wouldn't be an authority body to apprehend this lawbreaker. It has also been suggested by Cain that if the negative image of the police force is changed it will further boost their self esteem thus making them better police officers who can use their discretion fairly and even more effectively.
According to Joseph Goldstein (Police discretion, Not to invoke the criminal process, pp 543), selective enforcement represents low-visibility interaction between individual officers and various citizens. The exercise of discretion is not guided by clear policy directives, nor is it subject to administrative scrutiny. For reasons of this sort, selective enforcement can easily deteriorate into police abuse and discriminatory conduct.
In order to solve such misconceptions it should be the police ministers' role to conceivably allow an impartial civilian body to make the decisions as to which laws should be enforced. Inn that way, discretionary conduct would become more visible and might result in selective law enforcement that would then become a subject for open public dialogue. Furthermore, it would make police to use their discretion more carefully and hence become even more fair and effective towards its citizens.
It must be clear that more studies and investigations on behalf of society's police minister should be in order, particularly with regard to discretionary actions concerning a particular image such as race that a citizen may have. This is to portray to society that the police force are not using their discretion and their powers unfairly and ineffectively. Once this has been proven, society will perceive the police force in a more positive light away from the generalizations and convictions that they are unfair and abuse their power.
However, it is just as important that the police minister introduces are more efficient and successful program which officers learn how to practice discretion in law enforcement more fairly and effectively. Once this has been implemented, it is almost certain that not only will the police force be more fair and in turn more effective, but society will perceive them in a more optimistic and constructive way than it already does.