Legal Final - Decision-Making on Two Levels Examining the...

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Decision-Making on Two Levels Examining the supervisors role in police decision-making Patricia Godio
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In this paper, I will address the police agency and the unique characteristics of agencies, patrolmen, and supervisors. Policies are created for each agency to adhere to. However, we have learned that because no agency is similar, it is the supervisor’s role to correctly implement policies in each sector of his or her agency. As I summarize different roles of the police officer and different decisions that they are forced to make, I will address the leaders’ role in each situation. It is my hope that this paper will successfully touch upon each complex part of the agency and how they are impacted by leadership decisions. Police officers have two personalities, the law officer and the peace officer (Hale 2004). The decision to use either is based on the communities that they service. Communities are a major determinant of the police mission. It may require the law officer, while others require the peace officer. Therefore, officers must react based on the circumstances and culture of where they work. If the law officer works in an urban setting with high crime, he makes the decision everyday to enter the streets aware and cautious. He is more likely to keep tabs on where his backup is, or to pay attention to some areas more than others. However, a suburban area patrolman may walk out the door with the goal of keeping the peace. His role is to maintain a presence and to increase community relations. His mind may less be on the dangers that surround him and his reactions may be different from someone constantly on alert. Laws seem to be infinite and the sheer numbers of laws that do exist make it unreasonable for an officer to enforce them all. He has to make decisions based on experience and immediate threats. It has to be within the discretion of police to take official action. Discretion is action based on individual judgments (Engel). The community that the officer is working in determines the laws that he or she may feel needs to be more enforced, as tedious as they may seem. For instance, some officers may overlook leash laws in the community, but if a
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neighbor makes a complaint, that law is upheld. A public nuisance may be overlooked until someone actually determines it as a nuisance (Hale, 2004). Another example is curfews, loud parties, and speeding vehicles that may annoy elderly people but overlooked by others. Criminal law is ambiguous, and some have argued that discretion should not be left to the lowest level on the hierarchy scale within law enforcement (Engel). My belief is that uneducated workers, or those not trained would use variables such as race, sex, age and culture to determine decision- making. Therefore, it is the supervisor’s role to not let the hierarchy system determine whether or not an officer should make critical decisions, rather the training that they have received. The supervisor needs to be aware of these discrepancies.
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This note was uploaded on 06/23/2011 for the course CRIM 6640 taught by Professor Stearn during the Spring '11 term at Northeastern.

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Legal Final - Decision-Making on Two Levels Examining the...

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