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