Walker, Chapter 11
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Walker, Chapter 11






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    Walker, Chapter 11 Walker, Chapter 11 Presentation Transcript

    • Police in America Chapter Eleven: Police Discretion
    • Discretion in Police Work
      • Discretion is involved in several critical decisions made by the police.
      • Consider the following:
        • Domestic Violence Arrests
        • Mental Health Commitments
        • Traffic Tickets
        • Juvenile Court Referrals
        • Deadly Force
    • A Definition of Discretion
      • Definition of discretion
        • Official action by a criminal justice official, based on that official’s judgment about the best course of action
        • Discretion: The freedom to act on one’s own judgment; refers to the latitude involved police officers’ decision making.
    • Aspects of Police Discretion
      • Street Level Bureaucrats
        • Description for patrol officers because they make decisions that produce actual police policy as it affect citizens
        • Decision to arrest makes them the gatekeepers of the criminal justice system
        • Police discretion determines public policy
    • Potential Abuse Of Discretion
      • Discrimination
      • Denial of Due Process
      • Systematic Underenforcement of the Law
      • Poor Personnel Management
      • Inconsistent Policy
    • Proper Exercise of Discretion
      • The Use of Good Judgment
      • Efficient Use of Scare Police Resources
      • Individualized Justice
      • Sound Public Policy
    • Decision Points and Decision Makers
      • Patrol Officer Decisions
      • Detectives’ Decisions
      • Police Managers’ Decisions
    • Underlying Sources of Police Discretion
      • The nature of the criminal law
        • - Demands officers exercise discretion and decide whether the crime fits the definition of the law
      • Conflicting public expectations
        • - Some people believe certain behaviors should be legal, despite what the law says
      • Social and medical issues
        • - Homelessness, chronic alcohol abuse, mental health problems
      • The work environment of policing
        • - Working alone vs. in pairs, lack of direct supervision, police-citizen encounters in private places
      • Limited police resources
    • Factors Limiting Patrol Officer Discretion
      • Legal Factors
        • Supreme Court Decisions
        • State Court Decisions
        • State Law
      • Administrative Factors
        • Department Policy
        • Supervisions
      • Organizational Culture Factors
        • - Peer officer culture
      • Situational factors
        • Seriousness of crime
        • Strength of evidence
        • Preference of the victim
        • Relationship between victim and suspect
        • Demeanor of suspect
        • Characteristics of victim
        • Race, Gender, Ethnicity of citizen
        • Characteristics of neighborhood
        • Characteristics of Individual officer
    • Other Factors Influencing Discretionary Decisions
      • Organizational Factors
        • Official Department policy
        • Informal organizational culture
      • Social and Political Factors
        • Local Political Culture
    • The Control of Discretion
      • The Need for Control
        • Must control police discretion in order to prevent abuse of police authority
        • Myth of Full Enforcement
          • Exists to maintain public image of authority
          • Prevent the raising of questions about equal protection of the law
          • Allows supervisors to avoid closely reviewing officer behavior and developing performance expectations
        • Abolish Discretion?
          • Joseph Goldstein argues discretion is illegal
          • Police do not have legal authority to nullify criminal law by not arresting a criminal offender
        • Enhancing Professional Judgment
          • Through education and training
        • Informal Bureaucratic Controls
          • An arrest raises an officer’s visibility since it is reviewed by a number of higher ranking officers
        • Written Policies
          • Administrative rulemaking
    • Administrative Rulemaking
      • Administrative Rulemaking: Seeks to guide the exercise of police discretion through written departmental rules and the requirement that officers complete written reports on how they handled situations.
      • Examples: Deadly force, domestic violence, high speed pursuits.
    • Principles of Administrative Rulemaking
      • Confining Discretion
        • “fixing boundaries”
      • Structuring Discretion
        • A rational system for developing policies
      • Checking Discretion
        • Decisions are reviewed by another person
      • Contributions of Written Rules:
      • - Provide directions for officers on how to handle critical incidents
      • - Promote consistent performance
      • - Provide basis for effective supervision
    • Impact of Administrative Rulemaking
      • Has produced significant improvements in policing
        • Fyfe found that a restrictive policy on deadly force adopted by the NYC police dept. in 1972 reduced weekly average no. of firearm discharges by 29.1%
        • Alpert’s study of high-speed pursuit policies found that where restrictive policies were adopted, there was a reduction in the no. of pursuits, accidents, and both officer and citizen injuries.
        • In the LA Sheriff’s Dept. the no. of citizens bitten by K9 unit dogs declined by 90% after the dept. put in place new controls over how dogs could be deployed.
    • Insuring Compliance with Rules
      • CALEA stands for Commission of Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Its book of rules is Accreditation Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies .
      • The primary simple strategy for ensuring compliance is to require police officers to file written reports after each incident and to have those reports automatically reviewed by supervisors.
    • Codifying Rules: The Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) Manual
      • SOP Manual
        • Written rules and policies for a police dept.
        • Central tool of modern police management
        • Many departments place their SOP manuals online to increase transparency and promote openness
    • Systematic Rulemaking
      • Davis and Goldstein argue that a systematic approach allows the police to anticipate problems before they become crises
        • Represents a professional approach to planning
        • Attempts to encourage systematic rulemaking have been made through CALEA accreditation Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies
    • Citizen Oversight and Policymaking
      • Policy Reviews
        • Individual citizen complaints are analyzed to determine whether the underlying cause was a lack of policy (or a bad policy) on the part of the police department
        • Recommendations for new policy are made as a result
    • The Limits of Administrative Rulemaking
      • 1. It is impossible to write a rule that covers every situation
      • 2. Formal rules may encourage evasion or lying
      • 3. Written rules may only make the situation worse and create uncertainty
      • 4. Elaborate rules may create a negative atmosphere in the department