Should Police Officers be Allowed to use their Discretion
According to one article from the Raynard Law Firm, police officers are faced each day with a vast array of situations with which they must deal, and no two situations are ever the same. In addition to what this article pointed out, it is probably fair to say that due to the nature of police work that a great number of these situations are life threatening and sometimes require police officers to make split-second decisions before they take action. Some people would also agree that in order for police officers to be effective in responding to some of these situations that the officers should have the power and authority to be able to exercise a high degree of discretion in order to make things happen and get the job done. However, it should also be pointed out that some police officers have been also known to deliberately use their wide powers of discretion and their authority to perform acts of misconduct (Banks, 2013, p. 23).
In performing their policing duties, as Banks (2013) has also pointed out, police officers are able to exercise a high degree of police discretion, and this means that they have broad freedom to make decisions about how to act in any given situation; this also means that they can choose which situation to respond to, and can also decide whether or not to make an arrest. Because of this, there are some people who believe that a police officer’s discretion should be limited; some also believe that police officers should not be allowed to exercise any discretion at all when it comes to doing their job. For example, as Banks (2013) noted, Jeffrey Reiman argues that police discretion has no place in a free society; however, other commentators argue that police discretion should be limited so that the rules and regulations of the police department and ethical standards circumscribe that discretion (Banks, 2013, p. 23). These commentators really made some interesting points because I believe that if the exercise of police discretion were limited we would see a decrease in police misconduct and the abuse of their discretion. However, I also don’t believe that it will be such a good idea to put so much restriction of police officers either because, as mentioned earlier, police officers are faced each day with a vast array of situations with which they must deal, and we have to also take into consideration that police officers sometime cannot afford to wait for a response from their supervisors for them to take action, especially when they are faced with a life threatening situation. With that said, I believe that officers should be allowed to exercise some degree of discretion because even though some police officers abuse their discretion, research has shown that they cannot do their jobs effectively unless they are allowed to exercise some degree of discretion.
Banks, C. (2013). Criminal justice ethics (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE