Ethical Boundaries Of Police Discretion

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Law enforcement officers have a great deal of power to take away a person’s freedom by arresting them when they commit a crime despite how minor the infraction is. That power is called discretion which can be defined as having the authority to choose between two or more courses of behavior. Law enforcement officers have to make so many decisions everyday such as; when to enforce a law, how to enforce it, how to handle disputes, and when to use force. According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police “Law Enforcement Code of Ethics” A police officer will use responsibly the discretion vested in the position and exercise it within the law. Officers should take into consideration the surrounding circumstances when using discretion.…show more content…
Some would argue that police discretion be limited to department polices and rules. Some argue that police discretion should not even exist in our society. Some people feel police use their discretion powers and their authority to perform acts of misconduct. Unfortunately this is when discretion crosses ethical boundaries. Discretion is probably used more often on the lower level of law enforcement. Patrol officers have display the most discretion during their day to day activities. During their time on patrol, they respond to calls for service in which they define criminal behavior and determine what to do about it. When they patrol, they determine when to make traffic stops based on the severity of the traffic offenses. When traffic stops are made officers have the discretion to issue a warning or a ticket; usually the severity of the infraction or the attitude of the driver can determine outcome. Officers also use their discretion when using force; the decision can consist of verbal direction, soft or hard hand control techniques, less lethal options, and last deadly force. Investigators and detectives don’t have to use their discretion as much as the patrol officer, but they tend to use if during situations such as; conducting surveillance operations, conducting canvasses, undercover operations, special events, and other functions. Upper management such as managers and administrators demonstrate discretion in their decision making role over their subordinates (Pollock

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