Discretion Styles in Policing
Police are faced with several situations that require much flexibility dealings. Therefore, this discretion is significant in law enforcement, given that not every situation can be addressed by the constitution. Discretionary areas of police mostly work with matters associating to social service and peace keeping. Therefore, if a police got confronted with such peripheral circumstances, the police have to come up with a solution end it. There are no superior mechanisms in achieving that solution, and the mechanism should not undermine the solution (Stoddard, pg 17).
Several researches were conducted to study the factors that influence the use of discretion in police citizen encounters, specifically on arrest decision. Here, we shall see how community context and factors have influence on the police use of discretion.
Disparities in neighborhood context of police-citizen encounters will have influence over the behavior of the police officer. There are two variables in conducting this research; one is the use of formal social control by police and theorize bond among stages of community informal social control. Therefore, there is more formal social control, like police involvement, in communities with less informal social control. Second, expectations of the citizens on the police officers, whereby researches indicate that main concerns have varied based on economic and racial features of the society (MacDonald, pg 4-7).
As a result, the community context can influence police’s behavior in two dissimilar ways. First, citizen-police encounters where neighborhoods are featured by greater levels of ineffectiveness, like racial heterogeneity, poverty, and single-parent households, will necessitate the use of legal disposition since community informal social control may be fragile. Lastly, citizen-police interaction in communities that are disorganized may extract less vigorous reactions from police (Stoddard, pg 34-46). According to the Klinger theory, police in districts with frequent cases of crime, a smaller level of deviance or minor offenses maybe ended by informal police reactions. In communities with more crime cases, the likelihood of officers starting an arrest for relatively fewer offenses may be minimal since the action may not have broken a threshold for behavior in the given community. Therefore, the probability of police arresting citizen in this society is minimal; however, there is more possibility of issuing a caution, instructing the citizen to stop the conduct or employ other methods of order-maintenance. Generally, the district work culture influence how police would react to deviance with options other than arrest (Stoddard, pg 30 & 31).
Researches on the connection between structural features and arrest are incoherent. Racial conflict theory argues that racial minorities are viewed as dangers to the majority plus the local instruments of formal social control. Citizens in communities with soaring economic misery are believed to have more chances of getting dispositions when they are encountered by police. Consequently, single family household have low levels of guardianship, especially adolescents, which has led to reduced levels of informal social control, and increased crime rate (MacDonald, pg 4-7).
Researchers have agreed that legal measurements like magnitude of the crime and evidence such as the existence of weapons have reasonably contributed to influence over decisions made by the police about the suspect. Researchers assume that legal variables have paramount influence over the police’s behavior irrespective of community policy (MacDonald, pg 4-7). However, according researchers, the magnitude of the crime is less importantly associated to arrest decisions by the police, particularly police with affirmative feelings towards community policing because the conduct of such police may be influenced by information outside legal factors.
Research has also discussed the influence of other situational variables such as features of the; victim, suspect, and of the situation over the police conduct. Some researches indicate that citizens encountered by police who was juvenile, racial minorities, disrespectful, male and drunk had a higher chance of being arrested, while, other research suggest the opposite (Stoddard, pg 34-46).
Researches also indicate that other features of social setting can have influence on arrest, especially if the police possess “definitional or imperative regulation.” This means that the rise of control often cease once the citizen conform to police’s demand. Otherwise, if the citizen is disobeying the request, the encounter will strengthen, normally the police sort coercive control of the citizen using arrest, force or legal sanction (MacDonald, 4-7).
The above mentioned factors are significant in influencing the police use of discretion. Legal parameters like the magnitude of offense, proofs and existence of crime are factors that will possibly influence use of discretion in police-citizen encounter. Consequently, other researchers have extended their study in to situational parameters like citizen preference, intoxication and demeanor for arrest.
Stoddard, C. J. (2011). Understanding Organizational and Ecological Impacts on Police Use of Formal Authority: Testing an Ecological Theory of Police Response to Deviance. Web http://cech.uc.edu/content/dam/cech/programs/criminaljustice/docs/phd_dissertations/Stoddard-Cody-J.pdf.
MacDonald, J. M. et al. (2009) INTERNAL BENCHMARKING APPROACHES FOR IMPROVING CITIZEN SATISFACTION WITH THE POLICE AND CONTROLLING POLICE DISCRETION. Web http://www.eso.expertgrupp.se/Uploads/Documents/MacDonald%20o%20Ridgeway.pdf