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Proper Use Of Police Discretion Essay

2179 words - 9 pages

"Proper use of discretion is probably the most important measure of a police officer or department." -- Rich Kinsey (retired police detective)

Police officers are faced each day with a vast array of situations with which they must deal. No two situations they encounter are ever the same, even when examines a large number of situations over an extended period of time. The officers are usually in the position of having to make decisions on how to handle a specific matter alone, or with little additional advice and without immediate supervision. This is the heart of police discretion. As we shall find, the exercise of discretion by police has benefits and problems associated with ...view middle of the document...

Although the Chief of police is not in the field, he/she will still have to use discretion in making very important decisions that will affect the community and the police department.

The Chief of police may use discretion in a criminal investigation by deciding that some information should not be shared with the public. In addition, the Chief of police might even give a decision on which information to be shared to the public. The duty of the Chief of police is to protect the public and so while making decisions, he has to be careful of the information the public should know. One of the most important duties of the Chief of Police is to re-assure the public of their safety and so, he cannot comprised their safety by allowing certain information that could harm them reach them. Therefore, while trying to keep the public safe and trying to inform them of the investigations about criminal activities in their community without causing them panic, he/she will make sure that the details that reaches them are limited so that f there are more criminals among them, they are brought to book. In addition, the Chief of Police will give limited information so as to save the public from more criminal activities, and to save their lives. For example, maybe there have been numerous murder cases in a community, and evidence is found at one of the crime scene, it is the work of the Chief of Police to use his better judgment and not to release the latest findings to the media and the public at large.

The 2002 Beltway Sniper Attacks in Washington DC is one of the cases that the Chief of Police had to use discretion during the investigations (Reaves, 2002). He made sure that certain information did not reach the public for their safety. In the sniper attacks, around ten people were killed and three other injured. The Chief of Police of the Montgomery Police Department, Charles A. Moose led the investigations of the attacks. He had to make a strong decision of keeping the information they got at the crime scene from the media and the public so as to protect his investigation and get the rest of the perpetrators. As the Police Chief, he has the duty to protect the public and so he exercised his duties which worked to his advantage in his investigations.

The Montgomery Police Department Chief of Police controlling protocol can be seen when he decides to keep the public at ease and calm because it is his duty to protect them. He had recovered a note at one of the crime scenes which was evidence and had two choices to make, either to give it to the media and let the attackers know that they can be found and choice two, to evacuate the people from the are and search and target for the attackers; but instead, he decided not to give the information to the media and keep the attackers in the dark so as to get them unawares. Initially, information had been leaked and resulted to more deaths and so the chief of police justified his discretionary actions with...

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