and Ethical Decisions
You are a patrol sergeant lecturing to a college class about the patrol
function. Someone raises her hand and asks, “Sergeant, your officers obviously
can’t enforce all of the laws all of the time. Which laws are always enforced,
and which ones are not? What factors determine how police discretion is
used?” The concepts of police discretion and ethics are obviously intertwined
because all ethical dilemmas involve making a choice. How would you respond
(without saying something like “We enforce all of the laws, all of the time,”
which of course would be untrue)? How would you fully explain police discretion
to the citizens’ group? How do you explain the fostering of good ethical
decision making and discretion? How do you explain which laws are enforced
first and the discretion involved in that ethical decision making?
The oath is a sworn commitment to act in an ethical manner. Ethics
is a code of values that guides our choices and actions and determines the
purpose and course of our lives” (Deshon, 2000, p.2). Ethics is not a written
code or credo, it is about what we do. (Southwestern Law Enforcement Institute,
1995). Police officers are supposed to upheld the law just as we are. If they
do not act then civil liabilities could result.
becomes a key word when a police officer extends professional courtesy .”There
are " Legal issues, including both criminal and civil liabilities, are
primary considerations when it comes to officers exercising discretion and deciding
whether or not to and to what degree to extend professional courtesy” (McVoy, 2012,
A good example of ethics would be a officer
stops a individual. The officer then asks the individual if he understands why
he was topped? The individual says no but, can the officer give him a
break? Upon looking at his license the
officer notices the individual he stops is a fellow police officer. He Is asking
the police officer not to issue him a ticket,
should the officer give the individual he stopped a break? If the
officer decides to let the individual go they could be in hot water.
Discretion can be described
generally as an individual’s ability to pass sound decisions based on the
principle of courses of the action. When police officers go through training,
they are presented with different
scenarios which they could come across while on duty. Since the law does not
cover all aspects there are new laws that exist to enable the officers use
discretion. The law is also some time
ambiguous, and requires the officers to employ discretion and disregard various
interpretations of the law. In this
case, discretion applies to enable them arrive at a decision.
Discretion considers the
vacuum or void left in the existing policies and procedures of the law. However
the police are not always allowed to apply discretion. Neyroud (2008)
concludes that although police do possess a large amount of discretion, unfortunately, the legal framework under which they
operate sharply limits their discretion and therefore their professionalism.
Police discretion may be
exercised while making some types of decisions such as whether to draw a weapon
or not whether to make an arrest whether to fire shots at a suspect, whether to
issue a traffic ticket or another violation when to conduct a search and when
to stop and give someone assistance.
Police discretion enables the officers to show some
degree of humanity when treating people, it enables them decide when a second
chance is appropriate and when it is not,
and it also assists to improve how the public view the police force. If
the police followed all laws to the letter, they would be deemed unfair by the
society hence the significance of exercising discretion from time to time.
Police discretion also creates room for realistic expectations and thus it
promotes and ensures efficiency of the criminal justice system. Police
discretion is also important to the officers as it ensures job satisfaction.
This is accomplished in the sense that it enables the officers to exercise some
powers which have been stipulated within the law (Palmiotto,2003).
Police discretion is not full of benefits and has a
number of downfalls. For instance police discretion may create room for
corruption. In some cases police are not aware of the repercussions of their
actions while exercising police discretion. Police discretion can be easily
abused which may result to death or injury.
Police discretion is best used or most commonly applied
in cases of domestic violence and traffic offenses. Officers have regarded
domestic violence as a private issue which is better left for counseling,
social service and cooling off periods.
However, discretion need to be controlled and is achieved
through setting up policies and procedures to curb which aim at cubing misuse
of discretion by officers. Even the police officers still need to follow the
laws to the letter.
As stated by McVoy (2012) Using his
own personal guidelines, an officer can show respect for those who share in the
dangers of his profession, while ensuring that his moral
and ethical standards are not
compromised (p.14). Ethics are a part of what police officers do without there
would be chaos.
DeShon, R. W.
(2000, March 31). PDF] police officers oath & ethics - Eastern Michigan ...
www.emich.edu/cerns/.../PoliceStaff/.../OATH%20&%20ETHICS.pdf - Similar
7.2 Discretion and Supervision |
Ethics in Law Enforcement. (n.d.). Retrieved from
McVoy, J. A. (2012,
April 22). Professional Courtesy Ethics in Policing - Crimin... Retrieved from
www.cji.edu/site/assets/files/1921/professionalcourtesy.pdf - Similar
M. (2003). Community policing: A policing
strategy for the 21st century. Gaithersburg,
Peak, K. (2012). Policing America: Challenges
and best practices (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson
please look over make any changes thanks please eliminate a few references thanks