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Police Discresion Essay

837 words - 4 pages

Police discretion is when an officer “has a choice over how to respond to a specific problem or situation” (Grant & Terry, 2012, Chapter 5). Most of the time, law or police procedure dictate how an officer acts or reacts to incidents, but sometimes, when not clear, it is up to the officer to make a decision for course of action. According to Grant & Terry (2012), “police discretion is an essential aspect of policing because individual officers are required to deal with a vast range of problems and situations, many of which are not precisely regulated by law” (Chapter 5). These decisions made by police officers are things such as whether to arrest someone, to pull someone over, and ...view middle of the document...

Also, if the victim is someone the police disapprove of, sometimes they lack sympathy and it can affect their decision to arrest the suspect. Another factor that shapes police discretion is the relationship between the suspect and the victim. If it is a close relationship like husband and wife, they take into consideration a few things such as the victim going to receive backlash if the suspect is arrested, and also, if the victim would actually testify in court. Sometimes, even after an offense has been committed the victim will not follow through with the charges because it is someone that they love or will work things out with. Evidence of the offense is also a factor for police discretion. Police are “more likely to arrest if there is clear evidence of the offense” (Grant & Terry, 2012, Chapter 5). If there is an issue of having little to no evidence, then the officer has to decide whether there is enough to use against the offender if the case is taken to court.
One of the big internal factors of police discretion is the personal beliefs towards different races, genders, and sexual orientations. According to studies done involving racial profiling, “criminologists and police researchers, now believe that a suspect’s race is an important factor in the decision to arrest” (Grant & Terry, 2012, Chapter 5). Gender also plays a role. Male officers are usually sympathetic to female victims...

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