According to Hirby (n.d.), police discretion is defined as “the decision-making authority afforded to police officers that allows them to decide if they want to pursue police procedure or simply let someone off with a warning.” Some common examples of police discretion are domestic violence, traffic violations, potential hate crimes, and crimes involving the mentally ill. The line between discretion and racial profiling can become blurry when police make an assumption, for example, that people of a certain race are more likely to be guilty of crimes (Hirby, n.d.). Keep in mind that officers cannot just use discretion for something like Miranda rights or whether or not to overlook a homicide. Serious incidents and matters involving court decisions should be handled in a procedural manner.
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- Develop a detailed scenario where discretion would be used in a criminal justice context. Your example can pertain to courts, corrections, or law enforcement.
- Decide whether or not you will strictly enforce procedure.
- Explain your rationale for your decision.
- Describe how a citizen watching the situation might respond.
- Analyze what a supervisor might do as a result of the decision.