Police Discretion

Throughout the different countries in the world, there has been a renaissance interest in the work of police officers. In United States for example, allegations of police brutality and extreme use of power have captured public awareness and have become important topics of national concern. On the other hand, there is another portion of police occupation that, while not getting general public attention, has even bigger importance for society: the implementation of police discretion in enforcing criminal laws. To be sure, many law enforcement judgments engage only limited choices for the police.

For example, if a main crime such as murder or kidnapping is committed, the police act instantaneously to inspect, and if possible, to resolve the crime and make an arrest. However, for less significant, “low visibility” crime such as public intoxication and disorderly conduct, police response will vary (Kleinig, 1996, p. 173). Thus, even if the law may be violated and the violators are identified, an arrest may or may not be done if an officer may simply not take action or may summon an alternative preparation that is not officially authorized.

Organizational influences It is widely recognized and acknowledged that police officers have great level of discretion and sovereignty from supervisory and organizational influences. Police officers are likely to work in seclusion, not essentially by preference but by the environment of the work itself, where there is no immediate supervision from their high ranking officer. Although police organizations give serious set of rules and guidelines to tag on, it is the duty of the officer to formulate on-the-spot judgments to resolve situations.

Laws, orders and regulations are often unclear and inappropriate and do not offer much regulation for assessment making in the street. For example, the handling of juvenile problems always adds uncertainty to police work especially for minors (Groeneveld, 2005, p 67). In this case, police needs to manage the application of laws detailed to juveniles where they are at times taken care of as adults and other times not. In this situation, officers cause them to become shy away from managing juvenile problems and sometimes do not follow the direct orders from their high ranking officials.

Situational Characteristic Understanding how situational factors explain or influence police discretion is complicated because of its interaction with environment and organization. For example, a police may conduct an arrest in a domestic disagreement. Thus, the question lies because of the situational characteristic arising from the occasion of the arrest. Moreover, as the perceived threat in the encounter increases, situational characteristics have a tendency to play a more outstanding and significant role.

For example, an officer responding with a “man with a gun” call will be most subjective by the situational characteristic of the meeting. Is there an armed suspect? Although, formal organizational rules and environmental factors may still play a part in decision making, but the relative influence of those factors will be mediated by situational characteristics. Thus, there are no hard and fast rules in interpreting the importance of a specific factor since police are always come up with a solution according to the situations. Officer Characteristic

The characteristics of a police officer are also significant predictors of unrestricted decision making. It is likely that officer education, knowledge and understanding are important and plays a vital role in their discretion in arresting the criminals. However, in most cases, their actions are based on their personal characteristic. For example, one of the important characteristics of a police officer is base on their gender; researchers from various countries found out that female officers are less likely to use force than male officers in making an arrest (Kleinig, 1996, p 34).

Thus, they have greater capability in making the arrest in non-violent forms with citizens and to escalate potentially violent arrest situations. In this case, they are typically the target of a fewer citizens complaints instead of dealing with male officers (Brown, 1988, p. 45). Moreover, in some studies conducted, there are some evidenced that police officers who desired promotion tended to make the most arrests, especially if he or she knows that he should be promoted in a higher position. In this case, police characteristic is one of the most often debated issues in criminal justice.

Neighborhood or Community Influences The last mode of police discretion is based on community or neighborhood influences. This is an approach that is influenced and governed by police officers that are dedicated to keep social order and organization. This type of influenced is common to an organization that is based on caste characteristics of a specific community. For instance, if the neighborhood or the community is in the higher class, the pace of arrests will lower than in a blue-collar community or society.

This kind of policing may persuade an officer’s judgment because he or she is trying to stand by detailed rules and regulations. Another aspect that influences the police discretion is population variation. Thus, it is well recognized in the criminology literature that population strength typically results in greater familiarity among members of culture. Moreover, the company of particular minority groups shows to power police practices. Conclusion This argument, while designed to prevent attention from the real concern of governmental responsibility of police decision making, has enough worth to deserve closer examination.

Consequently, the goal of this paper is to verify whether police as political personality, whose powers, duties and functions are bounded by state and federal constitutions, can implement sufficient power within the structure of those constitutions to extend specific rules and guidelines to manage arrest decisions. In addition to analyzing the pertinent state and federal constitutional provisions, it is vital to in the statutory basis of modern police agencies. Thus, the police officers of the law are obviously the most significant institution in choosing which laws will be enforced.

But even assuming it is apparent that they have political and constitutional power to assume rule making, there is no assurance they will do so because of the influences they may encounter along their course of action such as organizational, situational, characteristic and neighborhood or community. Their lack of action to control the exercise of arrest discretion is clear, and one must be overly optimistic about ant abrupt change. Thus, it is significant to scrutinize if there are other means to bring police discretion making in control. References

Brown, Michael K. (1988). Working the Street: Police Discretion and the Dilemmas of Reform. Russel Sage Foundation. Groeneveld, Richard F. (2005). Arrest Discretion of Police Officers: The Impact of Varying Organizational Structures (Criminal Justice: Recent Scholarship). LFB Scholarly Publihing. 2nd ed. Internal Issues in the Criminal Justice System and Multiculturalism. Policing and Multiculturalism. Chapter 10. p. 221 – 248. Kleinig, John. (1996). Handled With Discretion: Ethical Issue in Police Decision Making. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc.