CMRJ302-1.docx

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Police officers are challenged with a multitude of situations every day. In many cases, officers work alone and situations can occur where discretion must come into play. Consequently, the police officer must decide independently the next step(s). They often exercise police discretion to handle these situations which calls for quick, split second, decision making. Police officers must decide whether or not a case is to be investigated, whether or not a suspect should be apprehended, or if a traffic violation is deserving of a citation. Police discretion allows officers to make decisions as to what course of action will produce the most desirable outcome in a given situation (Gaines & Kappeler, 2015). If properly used, discretion can be a positive aspect of the criminal justice system. If used improperly, it results in actions that are discriminatory, unethical, or illegal. In theory, the criminal justice official considers the totality of circumstances before determining whether or not legal action should be taken against an individual(s). And, to what kind and degree that action will be taken (Walker & Katz, 2005).
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