CJA 333 Police Discretion Position Paper

CJA 333 Police Discretion Position Paper - Discretion is a...

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discretion, “can be defined as the authority to choose between and among alternative courses of action” (p. 16). Average citizens and even those in the highest positions of power utilize discretion on a daily basis. Discretion has, in fact, became an accepted practice in most areas of society. It is, for example, often employed in the business world, as employers use it to manage their workforces. What is most interesting about this practice is that it is so prevalent in most fields, yet it is hardly noticed or discussed. It is simply what people do to get through life. One area in which the practice of discretion garners attention is the police. The use of discretion amongst the police is a controversial issue because the police function differently than most of society. While the police serve many different roles and functions, their major function is the enforcement of the law. Enforcing the law, though, is a complicated task that requires an abundance of resources. In fact, it requires so much that it would be virtually impossible to enforce all laws at all times. As such, it would seem that discretion has its place in police work. According to Spiegel (2010), “a critical aspect of a police officer’s responsibility is the personal discretion each officer has in carrying out his daily activities” (p. 280). Police officers must use discretion when choosing which crimes to investigate and which kinds of criminals to pursue. If they do, they run the risk of using all of their resources in futile attempts, and this may severely limit their ability to perform their everyday functions. Many people consider the actual use of discretion in police work to be nothing more than a myth. In fact, most people expect that all members of the police will hold up the law in every circumstance. Although it would be easy enough to assume that the concept of discretion has no place in the enforcement of the law or even the law itself, this is simply not the case. One must consider the nature of the law, and how it is constantly being amended. New laws get passed
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This note was uploaded on 11/02/2011 for the course POLICING T 333 taught by Professor Crystaldickersonbynum during the Spring '11 term at University of Phoenix.

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CJA 333 Police Discretion Position Paper - Discretion is a...

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