Police Discretion Research Paper

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Police discretion is a highly debated topic among many different groups, not only in the United States but internationally. It is imperative to understand police discretion, and the various control mechanisms available such as internal control mechanisms, external control mechanisms, control by the citizens, legislative control, and control by the courts. Each control mechanism plays a vital role in how officers of the law handle various situations. Not only do these mechanisms control police discretion they also provide a form of checks and balances to make sure the officers are policing humanly and not violating constitutional rights. Police discretion: Police discretion commonly is used in crimes such as domestic violence, traffic violations,…show more content…
For example, police officers working in a suburban tight knit community may handle a teen stealing less harsh then they would a teen in an urban area with a high theft rate. When police become used to the norm in the area they typically work it can become easy to fall into the process of dealing with different groups a certain way. Police officers in an urban predominately African American community are constantly dealing with theft, drugs and gun violence they may have more aggressive tactics. This affects how the same police may handle an African Americnan teen in a suburban area, because the officers are seeing someone who looks out of place accruing to what they are used to. When issues like this occur it becomes an argument about discrimination and in some cases claims of fourth amendment rights being violated if the teen was searched without probable cause (other than the fact that he/she was in an area that looked suspicious to the police officer). “Dynamic changes in the internal working environment can outweigh the influence of the external mechanisms” (White, 2003) As stated earlier, if police officers are trained more proficiently on human behavior versus just potential scenarios that may occur, officers have a better chance of not allowing stereo types interrupting how they handle people. Police discretion…show more content…
The courts must handle each case involving a police officer accordingly. There are countless cases, which are brought to the courts such as search and seizure. Because cases fall under different categories it is difficult for anyone to have a fair trial if there were only one set standard for handling cases involving police officers. Each individual case needs to be looked at without bias. One of the major violations faced today are fourth amendment violations. In the case of United States v. Leon, the police targeted Leon based on surveillance video they received from an informant. After a judge issued a warrant for Leon the police were able to collect massive amounts of illegal drugs from Leon’s home. Eventually a judge concluded, there was not probably cause for the warrant and all of the evidence was thrown out. For this particular case the “Court emphasized that the relevant inquiry does not "turn on the subjective good faith of individual officers," but instead on question, whether a reasonably well trained police officer would have realized the search was unconstitutional” (Kinports, 2007.) The Courts have the authority to regulate police discretion by evaluating each instance on a case- by-case bases. The judge must determine weather or not the officers were handling the situation in compliance with the law and not violating fourth

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