Q:

What is police discretion?

A:

Quick Answer

Discretion is a police officer's option to use his judgment to interpret the law as it applies to misdemeanor crimes. The laws that apply to felony crimes, such as murder, are black and white. Laws that apply to misdemeanor crimes can be a gray area for police officers, allowing them to exercise their good judgment and determine whether a crime is serious enough to carry the maximum punishment.

Continue Reading

Full Answer

Police discretion relies on the officer's confidence and good judgment to work correctly and in the best interests of the community. If a police officer holds every citizen to the letter of the law, then some violations may cost the city more money than it recoups from fines. For instance, if a police officer pulls a motorist over for a speeding violation and then discovers that the driver has been smoking a small amount of marijuana in the car, the officer can either write the motorist tickets for the traffic citation and the marijuana, seize the marijuana and take it in to the station for processing, which takes time from the officer and the custody officer, or stay on the streets policing and just write the motorist a fine for the traffic citation while giving him a warning about the marijuana use. This also applies when an officer pulls someone over for a traffic citation. It is up to the officer whether he wants to give the motorist a ticket or a warning. This is the officer's discretion and allows him to operate in a gray area when it comes to minor legal infractions.

Learn more about Law Enforcement

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the purpose of the police?

    A:

    The purpose of the police in the government is to protect and serve and to deliver criminals into the hands of the law. Police are responsible for catching criminals who threaten the livelihood, property and peace of other citizens. Without the police patrolling the streets of the world, it would be extremely difficult for the government to prevent law-breaking and anarchy.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the responsibilities of the police?

    A:

    The primary responsibility of the police is to protect citizens from harm and danger, advocate for victims of crimes and promote the accountability of criminals by enforcing laws set forth by the city, state and country. The police are also responsible for responding to 911 calls, interviewing witnesses and victims of crimes, investigating crimes in an attempt to secure criminals and making arrests.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do you find a public listing of police officers?

    A:

    Public listings of police officer names and badge numbers do not exist, as of 2015. Citizens can ask police officers for their badge numbers, but many states do not require police officers to wear identifying badges, according to FindLaw. Citizens can check with their states regarding police identification laws.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the benefits of being a police officer?

    A:

    A variety of job options, attractive retirement packages and job security are some of the benefits of being a police officer, notes Career Profiles. Other benefits include prestige, constant challenge and fulfillment, explains the National Center for Women and Policing.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore