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Policing Theory and Practice

It is very important to be discrete in various situations in the field of policing. Discretion means to select the most appropriate answer in a certain situation with many options. The academies train the police officers to combat many different situations but the dilemma starts when a situation arises that the police officers are not previously trained for. A limited training and learning period cannot cover all the situations and cases that life has to offer. Therefore, police officers have to make use of discretion to handle situations. Analysis There are mythical aspects of police discretion as well.

This is when the law enforcement agencies are queried whether their officers undergo full training on daily basis or not. The myth comes with reference to the fact that citizens think that police officers have full training and follow all rules and policies, but this is not always true. People often witness the myth of police enforcement during the penalties like traffic citations vs. traffic tickets. Discretion is needed during traffic stops due to many reasons. If the policies were always implemented, then citations would not be used. Instead, traffic tickets would be used only.

The three reasons told by Walker of why this myth has materialized are “legality, the nature of the police organization and the authoritative image of the police. ” (Walker, 1999) The only possible way to control discretion can be for the officers to completely follow all laws and policies. This should be true for every situation they encounter. But this is not possible in real life situations. A person needs to be discrete in order to make a fair judgment. Even the officers need to have the feeling of being humane. They should be given the freedom to make decisions based on their own experiences in the field.

Following is a list of ten situations in which an officer faces daily and might practice discretion. 1. Domestic Disturbances: Here discretion may be used when an officer allows the abuser to remain in the house because he feels that both parties are equally responsible for the quarrel. This form of discretion is not reasonable until the officer is not completely sure of the situation. (Odom, 2009) 2. Public intoxication: In most of the cases, discretion is practiced here. The officers should deal with discretion here by being sure that the person is intoxicated or is having some medical problem. 3.

Disorderly conduct: Here discretion may be used because the meaning of disorder is different for everybody. This is includes the differences because of cultures and traditions. Such discretion is acceptable for police officers. (Odom, 2009) 4. Trespassing: There should not be discretion in the situation of trespassing. The laws and rules of trespassing are implied because of the safety of the citizens. An officer should follow the complete rules to the book for trespassing when people go to some restricted area. 5. Use of force: This is a situation in which many people feel that police officers abuse their powers.

An example of such discretion may be viewed on the Rodney King video. (UMKC School of Law, 2006) 6. Traffic stops: Traffic stops occur due to unlimited number of reasons. This is a situation that requires a great amount of discretion by the officers. In the next four situations, I think it is fine to have discretion. However, it is not acceptable to abuse the power of discretion in any situation. Officers should learn to make decision not based on their own previous prejudices or experiences. They should be able to solve a problem in accordance to the law without any sort of discrimination based on race, age, sex or color.

7. Contact with juvenile 8. Contact with mentally ill individuals (Odom, 2009) 9. Contact with female vs. male individuals 10. Contact with minorities Conclusion As stated by Mr. Dantzker, “the use of discretion by police officers has a tremendous impact on police performance and behavior. ” (Dantzker, 2003) Many people think that discretion should be completely eliminated. In my opinion, discretion is needed for proper justice in certain situations. We should have trust in our officers to choose the correct form of action. ?

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