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Police Discretion: Criminal Justice

While in the academy and for their period of training, police are particularly skilled on how to handle various situations that they will come across. A dilemma arises when they get in the field and stumble upon problems which they did not receive training for. Instances of new laws being constantly constituted and cases of the law being unclear on some issues regularly occur. When a professional judgment is not at hand, the police officer will be forced to act based on his or her moral and principled conclusion (Joycelyn 198).Determining the correct thing to do become indeed challenging; and while an officer will find a decision to be right, it may be judged by the society as skewed negatively from an ethical perspective.

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Traffic police officers have an officially authorized right to let a motorist drive off with a word of warning, or give a ticket. The officer’s appraisal may be prejudiced politically, ethnically, or whether it is a ‘good day’ or ‘dreadful day’ for the officer. A higher-ranking government executive is less probable to be charged for crossing a red light or for over speeding than a normal citizen. A white policeman may be tempted to reprimand a black person who breaks the law in a harsher way than the white folks.

Laws are present in the society and they should be administered in the same way to each citizen. An enticement can easily alter the outcome that an officer will make irrespective of any prejudices. Those who cannot afford to get away with an offence simply face the consequences of the law.

Discretion can also be based on whether the conclusion will have an effect on other citizens or not. A speeding driver may easily cause an accident whereas one who forgot her license at her residence may not be of danger to anyone in the vicinity. While driving without a license and over speeding are both bookable offences, the latter can be considered to be much more serious and of considerable harm to other motorists. There may be some moral laws which are not professional laws in a constitution; a motorist who drives past an injured motorist without offering help has not broken the law, but such behavior is considered unethical (Joycelyn 10).

The decision to have O.J. Simpson tried in a different district from which the crime occurred was regarded by many as political. There were fears that the jury, which was mainly white, would definitely find him guilty, and this would spark racial protests in the district of crime which was predominantly black. The issue of race considerably played an advantage in the decision of the jury in this case who visited Simpson’s residence.

Police cruelty and racial bias by police officers in LA, is evidenced in the video-taped brutal throbbing of Rodney King. The officers were acquitted in a state court by a adjudicators comprising of ten Americans, a Latino and an Asian, who overwhelmingly avowed that there was not sufficient support to find the officers blameworthy, sparking off colossal riots. King was seen as resisting being taken into protection and there were sections of the tape reminiscent of his threat of violence on an officer, but the clobbering administered to him was not reasonable and was uncalled-for.

Preconception of an individual’s actions may be based on the skin color, sexual orientation, faith, age, political association or rank in society. The option on how to express disapproval of, punish, deal with or respond to the actions of someone, without ascertaining the information and facts, may depend on some of the factors listed above. Like most earthly professions, the police force as well has laid down its set of ethical set of laws governing its actions. The ruling which a police officer makes in the justice system hugely relies on his or her principles and way of life.

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Work cited

Pollock, Jocelyn. Ethical dilemmas and decisions in criminal justice. Ohio: Cengage learning: 2010(6) 10-198

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