Monday, February 25, 2019
Discretionary Use Of Police Authority
constabulary officers enjoy the more than-envied monopoly of instruments of wad. Only a state armed force has recognized legal rights to wage military unit against the citizenry and employ whole manner of force in the build of maintaining fair play and order. A look at a number of natural law actions leaves a doubt whether tout ensemble capacity be provided for by the law. The practice of law be permitted to do a certain aim of force in enforcing the law and while making arrests and maintaining order.The force used in this crusade is supposititious to be reasonable this reasonableness is non measurable and is at the discretion of the legal philosophy or to a large extent to the royal court of law. In their day to day activities, practice of law follow scripted rules and guidelines, manoeuver by the law and their professional ethics, that r bely is all that they do tempered in the written codes. Majority of what they go through with(predicate) depends on their in- close tobody intuition and judgment of what is right.They atomic number 18 supposed to puddle a snag judgment on the most appropriate closing in a certain situation, whitheras such a provision may non be provided in the rules. The legality of such decisions roughly measures is in question. It is non possible for the law to contain all the standardisedly scenarios that the jurisprudence dissolve receive on crosswise. The unpredictable constitution of their work renders it profound to do that and it is only through effective training and a high level of discipline that suitable judgment and sound decisions can be made even in an extremely uncertain environment.This however is an ideal situation and most of the metre police officers have been noted to go to the extreme ends and making unjustified decisions that ar inconsistent with the worldly concerns expectations. In carrying out their duties, the police some cadences deduce along to be spargon-time ac tivity their own discreet codes, codes that cannot be fathomed by civilians. Their rules atomic number 18 paternalistic in reputation and may not be in line with the spirit of republic. This and to a greater extent is what this paper hopes to look at. It leave behind scrutinise the police use of discretional potence and note whether sometimes this authority is extremely and unreasonably everywherestretched.Discretion can simply be referred to as that motive or freedom accorded to mortals, or the police for that social function, to make judgment or decisions that they look are appropriate to a certain situation. It is the judgment of police on how to bridge the gap that exists between what the stipulations in the law contain and the challenges on the ground (Seumas M. , et al, 2006). The laws governing the police forces are not precise and should downstairs no certain terms be particularised. They leave gaps and spaces that can only be filled through individual intuitio n. roughly of these laws are express to be ambiguous and shortly requiring the reasoning of a well expert police officer to enforce (M. L. Dantzker, 2005. ). While it is prudent to say that more(prenominal) or slight all state or public departments and agencies use arbitrary powers, it is in the policing agencies that they are most often chip in and with major consequences. It is the legislature that determines the nature of laws that exist in a certain region, but it is up to the stack on the ground, who are the police officers, that determine how those legislations are to be implement and in what manner.The law sometimes is strict on certain issues but it is up to the law enforcement agents in touch with the public to make it more flexible while at the akin time making it less or more punitive depending on the situation. Question stands on whether such discretion cannot be abused. For example whereas the law categorically prohibits the arresting of individual on mere suspicion with no form of evidence, the police in most case entrust arrest hoi polloi and claim it is on reasonable grounds of suspicion. This suspicion is based on infixed judgments of a persons behavior at the moment.Some officers are trained to believe that if adept moves a expressive style hastily after seeing the police, he or she is probable to be guilty of something. This is what some would call behaving in a suspicious manner. This might not be on-key as at that place is no law against hastening ones pace upon coming across the police officers, but the forces arbitrary powers allow them to hold such person and search him or her. Reasonable suspicion becomes an ambiguous term that is hard to define or quantify. It is not measurable and at the like time not disputable.Interestingly though, contrary to what one would expect, arbitrary powers in the police force decrease as one goes up the ladder while change magnitude toss off the cadre and hierarchy. This is becaus e the officers up in hierarchy rarely come establishment to face with the public. Theirs is generally limited to the get on withroom meetings, strategy position and maybe dealing with the ever-inquisitive media. This is not to mean that they top chiefs do not possess arbitrary powers. On the contrary they do, but it is the lower be officers that have more opportunities of exercising this authority due to their daily contacts with the pubic.This discretionary authority turns them into policy makers, only this time it is at the ground or street level. This is because the most important decisions are made at the top of contact or encounter. It is here that the police officers make the most critical decisions regarding the step to take after a wrong has been act. Depending on the exercising weight of the crime, the officer on the ground will know what action to take. He might decide to warn, book or jail depending on the sedateness of the situation. This may not be what the l aw has provided for.It is these powers to make such discretions that fix tension and discontent from the public, as they lead to discriminate and disproportionate industriousness of laws. The general characteristic of discretionary authority is that in one way or another it has to be apply selectively. The prejudices that are held by the clubhouse have as well as been imported into the police force and must in a way impede upon the judgment of the police officers especially when they are exercising their discretionary authority.To most people in todays being, where vehicles are prevalently used as the single most preferred office of mobility. Peoples contact with the government is through the police. Interactions with the citizenry is most in all likelihood to be with the barter police officers, and it is them that are likely to make decisions based on their own judgments. This most likely emanates from the fact that most of the traffic offenses committed by motorists are b ut of small consequence, they are excusable and one can escape with a verbal warning.The traffic laws prohibit over hasten or any other reckless control that might be injurious or inconveniencing to other motorists. The patrol officers are ever on the look out for such characters and can flag down any motorist they suspect is under the influence of alcohol. Police here use their discretionary authority in making the kind of decision to be taken upon a motorist who commits such an offense. A traffic offense that is not serious would carry a number of penalties ranging from citing, mesh or ticketing in accordance with the dominant traffic policy.Most people would like the law enforcement officers make mild decisions in regard to such minor offenses and make hard stances on the major crimes such as kidnappings and lodge robberies. More police discretionary powers should be ex scarpered towards passing lenient judgments on traffic offences rather than creating friction on their r elationship with the motorists (Peak, K. J. , 2006). Most police agents have strict laws and policies in relation to traffic rules and tend to have punitive attitudes towards these offenses.Most traffic officers end up citing motorists rather than allow them go off with verbal warnings. This is the ethical and professional dilemma face up most police officers, their discretionary authority not withstanding, even where the law is very clear on traffic offenses and the nature of penalties imposed. This how the law is, it is supposed to be comprehensive and touching on almost everything. However, the scarce resources allocated may not cater for this. The meager financial resources cannot facilitate the strict following of the law to the letter.If all the provisions of the law are strictly adhered to, the courts would be clogged with cases and jails would be overcrowded. It is hence important that the police officers use their discretionary powers to sort these people out (Seumas M. , et al, 2006). As mentioned before, due to the subjective nature of the police duties, selective application of discretionary powers is probable and very common. Racial, religious, sexual urge and ethnic profiling becomes real. For the traffic police officers, it is very likely to let of an elderly person off with over speeding than with a stripling or a middle age.This is because it is not common to see vulcanised people over speeding the officers will tend to believe that in that respect has to be a reason for such an action. The provisions of the law on over speeding not withstanding, most police officers are terminus ad quem to make the same decision. A study of police application of discretionary powers also would reveal that it all depends on the behaviors and attitude of the subject under consideration. For those who are very confrontational and rude when addressed by police officers over their mistakes, they might not enjoy any compassion.Those who are great and peni tent of their actions are likely to receive a lighter treatment. Police discretionary powers are likely to be utilise favorably mostly when the subject displays a sign of respect. These powers may also be elon admission to the unpopular laws in the society. Police would shun taking action against offenders of some minor offences. This is if there has been a public uproar against such laws. They would not want to be dragged into a row, and hence opt to turn a blind away to such offenders. on that point are exceptions however to this no matter how unpopular some of these laws might be, discretionary powers might have applied harshly. The issue of police discretionary powers is dogged with controversy. There are those who claim that these powers are okay as they give the police an opportunity to apply their own judgment in meting out justice rather than postponement for the strenuous and elaborate process of the law. It gives the law a human face and gives the police a chance to ac t with compassion. The police sometimes are faced with situations where if they strictly adhere to the laws, catastrophes might happen.A police arresting a driver for over speeding might result to a suggestion if for example such a driver was rushing a uncomplaining to hospital. It is important that discretionary powers be extended to allow police officers make decisions that are appropriate to a specific situation at raft rather than blanket application of the law just because the stipulations state so. This leniency in the discretionary powers is also a kind of public relations. As afore mentioned, contact of the public and the police in todays world is mostly limited to the traffic.Most peoples attitudes and perceptions of the police might to a great extent be shaped by this limited interaction. some(prenominal) harshness towards motorists may be interpreted to mean that the police are all harsh and inconsiderate. The law contains a mesh of provisions that cannot all be appli ed, as most likely they would turn the citizens into slaves of rules. Discretionary powers are hence important to sort these laws out and enable the police to make the best decisions possible at that instance depending on the prevailing fate (John Blackler, Seumas Miller, 2005).However, opposition to discretion emanates to the discriminate application of justice. As said before, it is a highly subjective practice that embodies the incorporation of personal and emotional values. Issues such as racism, ethnics and other discrimination based on creed, socio-economic statues and gender will come into play. Personal prejudices might have an upper hand when a police officer is making the decision in regard to who will get what punishment, who will get a booking and who is to be released. A motorist may get away with over speeding, or driving under the influence just because he or she looks innocent or is remorseful.Police have been known to apply leniency to people who look remorseful af ter giving them a stern warning and arresting those that they think are disrespectful and self-righteous. This however should not be a step to be used while deciding who is to booked and who is to be let go. The law is clear on this and should be applied non-selectively. Allowing the use of discretionary powers by police officers is jut but breeding ground for subversive activity and bribery. Police officers are likely to take in bribes from criminals or lower-ranking offenders so that they may look the other way and apply discretionary powers.It may also lead to a breeding ground for more hardened offenders. A motorist who has escaped once with an over speeding offense may make it a habit of repeating the same mistake and preying on officers leniency. People might not be vigilant enough in regard to the petty offenses because there will be a likelihood of them getting away with such mistakes. A high number of people would be in favor of controlling the use of police discretionar y authority, mostly as it is likely to be abused by police officers.This emanates from the image that most people have of the police an image imparted through their interactions with the police, who most of the time are found to hostile and unreasonable. The police are not trained in psychiatry and should not base an individuals guilt on ones behavior, remorse or lack of it thereof. It should be left to the court or tribunals to pass a verdict. If the law states that a certain offense is finable then be it and this fine should be applied across the board and not selectively. The police are governed and bound by the law and all its comprehensive principles.The law is dynamic but it is also very clear on many issues. It is predictable and outcomes in many cases are certain. The same case should apply to the police force their decisions should be predictable and consistent. The police force is in the executive arm of the government, its function is to implement the laws passed by the l egislature, allowing it to make decision regarding the law is superseding the authority and can be a recipe for chaos. Unlimited use of police discretionary powers can to a greater extent be said to be undermining democracy.Laws under the tenets of democracy are a preserve of the legislature which is just but a of group of individuals representing the citizenry, who are democratically elected. The police represent the executive and in most cases will be furthering the sitting governments interests. They do not consult before passing the extra judicial pronouncements. The public has no room to scrutinize these decisions. Had there been an opportunity to review some of these discretionary powers, the system could work out efficiently (John Kleinig, 1996).However, as much as the public may wish to demonize the use of discretionary authority by the police, they are more than necessary. The law, despite being broad, is not comprehensive it does not provide solutions to all the possible c ase scenarios likely to be faced by the police. Discretionary powers by the police come into play to bridge the gap between what the stipulations contain and what the situation on the ground is. The bone of contention is the likelihood of these powers being abused and applied selectively to favor a certain group of individuals over others. There is no provision in the law on how these powers are to be utilized.They are mainly subjective and depend on a specific officers personality and orientation towards many issues in life. It would also depend on the nature of the mood of an officer at the time of the incident. It is unpredictable and lacks in consistency. It is apparent though that these discretionary powers cannot be through away with completely, effort hence should be geared towards curtailing them to a level that is acceptable to the public. Police should be well trained to ensure that their use of discretionary authority does not deviate from the law and is not applied discr iminately.ReferencesJohn Kleinig, 1996. The ethics of policing. Cambridge University Press.John Blackler, Seumas Miller, 2005. Ethical issues in policing. Ash gate publishing Ltd.Seumas Miller, John Blackler, Andrew Alexandra, 2006. Police ethics. Waterside Press.Peak, K.J., 2006. Policing America Methods, Issues, and Challenges. 5th Edition.Pearson Prentice entrance hall Upper Saddle River, NJ.M.L. Dantzker, 2005.Understanding todays Police. Criminal Justice Press.