Police officer protects the lives and properties of the people. They maintain law and order, catch whoever breaks the law and work to prevent crimes. The work of a police officer is both challenging and diverse. They face challenging situations everyday which they must deal with. The situations which they encounter with are not the same every day. They sometimes face life and death situation and to deal with these situations they need to make quick decisions and for that they need the freedom to decide what should be done in a particular situation (Rynardlaw.com, 2014).
Police discretion is defined as the decision making power given to police officers which allows them to decide if they want to follow police procedure or simply let someone off with an official warning. However, the exercise of police discretion has its own benefits and problems. The wrong use of discretion can land them in trouble and can also lead to the denial of citizen rights. Police discretion happens when somebody gets caught for over speeding. At times, the culprit is penalised and at times, the culprit is just left with a warning.
Police discretion can lead to solution of common issues such as domestic violence, traffic violation, potential hate crimes and crimes involving mentally ill individuals. In cases pertaining to domestic violence where there are no signs of physical violence, it becomes difficult to differentiate between the victim and the culprit. The police officer has to investigate thoroughly from all angles taking into account smallest of details and then use his personal judgement to come to the conclusion who the culprit is. Therefore, police discretion is essential in these cases.
In today’s fast paced life everybody is in a hurry to reach their destination. Therefore, it causes over speeding which leads to violation in traffic (Ncjrs.gov, 2014). This is another common instance where police may use their discretion either by filing paperwork, so that it does not become a repeat offence in the future or by simply letting them off by giving them verbal warning.
Police discretion is also vital in hate crime cases. Punishment is quite severe in hate crime cases but it is difficult to determine on the basis of evidence. Therefore, police officer needs to make his personal judgement with regards to the perpetrator’s character. There are people who are mentally ill, hence, they cannot be charged heavily by police officer for the crimes committed by them keeping in mind their mental illness. The above mentioned situations are the best examples of police discretion and it shows how challenging and difficult their job can be. There are various control mechanism linked to police discretion, some of which are mentioned below:
Internal Control Mechanism: Many police departments have Internal Control units whose job is to investigate wrongly use of power by police officers. It receives tips from within the department about corruption, sexual misconduct etc. and its responsibility is to investigate allegations against those officers (Rynardlaw.com, 2014).
External Control Mechanism: Few external mechanisms that has its effects on police discretion are the type of people and situations that they face every day.
Legislative control: Police discretion can be limited if the legislature of the state make laws. There are many state which have laws pertaining to domestic violence. If the law in the state says that the parties involved must be put behind the bars, no discretion of the officer is allowed.
Control by citizens: I do not think anybody would want to control police discretion. If it was controlled then it would indicate each and every violation would result in an arrest. I don’t believe citizens would approve of this (Rynardlaw.com, 2014).
Control by court: The court’s decision limits police discretion. There is a need to control police discretion and that’s the major reason why courts have provided judicial guidelines to the police. This will help to curb police abuses and also curtail their unconstitutional actions.
There has been an increase in the professional ethics in the past few years. There are many ethical issues in the criminal justice that are common to other professions, in fact, there are many issues which are mainly related to criminology as well as criminal justice. There are two main philosophies when it comes to normative ethics (Quizlet.com, 2014). These are utilitarianism and deontological ethics.
In utilitarianism, it is an ethical theory based on the consequences. In this, the morality is judged in terms of the end results of a particular action. Cheating, murder or stealing are all considered to be a wrong deed, so they have a bad result. On the other hand, charity is considered to be a good deed, so it is considered to be beneficial. The actions which are considered moral have a good result whereas those which are immoral have a bad result. As per John Stuart Mill, for all the human beings, the fundamental good that they all look for is happiness. According to his views, all humans desire happiness, everything else that they look for, is either happiness or a way to happiness. He identifies happiness as pleasure.
If it is a thief, he gets a pleasure if he is able to successfully do the burglary (Leo.riohondo.edu, 2014). According to utilitarianism, all the parties should be considered who are influenced by a particular action and calculate the pleasure as well as the pain of others who is affected by it. If at the end, a particular action involves more pain than pleasure, the action which is considered right is the one which brings the least pain. The more amount of good which is created for more number of people, creates the main context for a particular community and the proportionality of pleasure as well as pain should be judged in this context. Hence, the ethical theorist is mainly interested in finding out the basic as well as the fundamental principle of morality which acts like a foundation on which, all the moral judgements rely. The criminal justice system can be very much justified on the grounds of utilitarianism.
According to few people, the main duty of a police officer is to issue a ticket without thinking about the consequences. This is the main theory which leads to deontological ethics. It is mainly a study related to the study of duty (Leo.riohondo.edu, 2014). There has been an argument amongst the deontologists that at times humans have a duty wherein they perform few actions which is regardless of the end result. The duty of the police officer is to issue tickets even if it does not have a positive effect on the majority of the people. According to Immanuel Kant, the theory of consequence missed something which is crucial to ethics by neglecting the basic concept of duty as well as a more basic morality, goodwill or even the intention to do what is right. It can also be said that the main path to morality is the will of humans or their intention towards it, not the consequences. He also talks about the difference between the action which is only according to the duty and actions, which are performed for doing the duty. Kant also says that the main principle of morality is the categorical imperative, which talks about what we are required to do and what we should do (Quizlet.com, 2014). This is, in fact, unhypothetical wherein no ‘ifs’ is taken into consideration. Which means that a person is bound to behave morally. Hence, in the deontological ethical system it is mainly studied about the duties or moral obligation which emphasizes the intention of the actor as the element of morality.
The federal law, section 1983, is a law which gives the right to sue a person who, while acting under the colour of the law of the state, deprives a person of his/her constitutional rights. It is a must for the police officers, especially those who are at the higher positions, to have a broad understanding of this section of 1983 as it has become the most preferred tool for suing a police officer.
When it comes to section 1983 of Title 42 in the United States Code, originally, this law was a part of the Ku Kiux Act of 1871. In the present days, one part of this is called the Civil Rights Act of 1871. The original name as well as timing both signifies what is clear from the study of its legislative history (Matrix Group International, 2014). There was an outright assault after the Civil War Ku Kiux Kian. In other words, it was implemented in a specific response to the President Grant’s call for legislation for dealing with the KKK. At that time it was widespread as well as organized, especially in the southern states.
For reasons both useful and legitimate, the statute remained practically torpid for the 90 years after its section. As a functional matter, given the degree of the KKK’s energy as well as its infection of some state and neighbourhood governments, the African American of that time must have rightly questioned that suing would enhance the offended party’s close term predicament. As a lawful matter, the “under shade of state law” necessity of segment 1983 was translated, in that time, to bar scope of practices that were restricted by the letter of state law, however the uncivilized practices were regularly executed by executors of state government (and its nearby subdivisions) and by utilization of their authority powers (Usccr.gov, 2014). Other specialized lawful issues helped guarantee the almost century-long weakness of the statute.
Considerably after Monroe v. Pape, segment 1983 needed punch. The individuals who needed to utilize it frequently failed to offer the monetary assets to pay for investigations as well as legal advisors. In addition, in Monroe v. Pape, the Supreme Court still stayed on its prior position (and the unequivocal dialect of the statute) that no one but “persons” could be sued under segment 1983. The statute couldn’t be utilized to achieve the administrative substance, the profound pocket. So with no cash accessible in advance to reserve prosecution and with no prospect of arriving at a profound pocket, potential offended parties were not able or unwilling to utilize the statute.
Also in the case of Monell, the Supreme Court extended the span of section 1983 to municipal entities, it declined to open them to vicarious obligation. Vicarious obligation is focused around relationship and would hold an employer obligated for worker offenses amid the course and extent of job whether or not the manager did anything off base. The liability of the municipality under segment 1983 is not built singularly with respect to relationship; it obliges evidence of flaw and causation from the element. Just if an approach or custom of the metropolitan substance is a moving force behind the constitutional wrongdoing of a worker, will the element be obligated under section 1983 for that offense (Usccr.gov, 2014).
Even is the police wins such cases, they frequently lose in other huge ways. Civil cases are irritating, unpleasant, and consumes a lot of time. Even under the least favorable conditions they undermine professions, individual accounts, and wellbeing.
While working, the police interacts with the community people, who are mainly reliant on the police to check on the issues and help in times of crisis. The police, then again, depends on the community to report wrongdoing and give essential data that is important for them to settle wrongdoing as well as address the concerns of the community. In recent years, this relationship has grown as the police and the communities they serve now expect more from each other as every inexorably perceives the essentialness of cooperating as accomplices. There are various convincing reasons why police authorities and lawmakers have looked to community policing as a route forward.
These reasons are generally grounded ever, police scrutinize that has occurred over the past quarter century, the changing nature of groups, and the moving attributes of wrongdoing, viciousness, and issue (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1994). Specialists concur that there is, and has been, a pressing requirement for inventive practices inside policing to help check what some would consider a “crisis of violence” inside numerous communities.
It was noted by Eggers and O’ Leary (1995) that the public surrendered its part in controlling wrongdoing in the 1960s and progressively depended upon the police to do the employment. Amid this time, and in past decades, police overseers executed methodologies and utilized new innovations to build the separation between police staff and the public they served. This exertion was to a great extent embraced by police chiefs to diminish the tainting impact that was accepted to originate from the group. Numerous police divisions received top-down, militaristic, various level of administration systems that forced more noteworthy responsibility on police chiefs and underscored police professionalism.
The relation between police and community suffered when the social agitation of the 1960s prompted urban mobs, deaths, and expanded posse brutality. Some individuals came to view the police as a severe involving energy. Police ruthlessness frequently started urban issue, and a few parts of the general population saw the police as being at the bleeding edge of keeping up an unreasonable and biased society (Gaines and Leroy-Miller, 2006).
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the crime rate in most part of the Western countries kept on rising regardless of enhancements in the technology of police, training as well as professionalism. Numerous police pioneers eventually inferred that they required to turn to their communities in order to control crime and recapture the appreciation and participation of the general population.
In order to increase the community engagement, it is important to develop and maintain the people’s trust. The police need to intensely listen to the concerns of the community and work agreeably with them to distinguish and talk about their issues. Similarly as with level of engagement with the citizens, the nature and seriousness of community issues fluctuates generally in distinctive groups and also with in particular groups; the entire group may be tormented by an issue or it might be limited to one little land zone. According to Herman Goldstein (1990), following are the five problems of the community (Children.gov.on.ca, 2014).
Recognizing, examining and reacting to such issues oblige the police to cooperate with public, group offices, and social administrations to create one of a kind and tailor-made results.