Today everyone has a camera and decisions are reviewed, questioned, and judged by those who have no idea what happened. In Ch. 5 you learned about tactical decision-making and scenario-based training for new officers. Discretion is a major part of a police officer’s role and the decision he or she makes in a split second can create many different outcomes and consequences.
Read the Sidebar 11-1, “Police Discretion in an Unfolding Disturbance Call” in the “New Perspectives on Police Discretion” section of Ch. 11, “Police Discretion,” of The Police in America.
Consider- One important area of police discretion involves the handling of domestic violence situations. A number of states have addressed this issue by enacting laws attempting to control police discretion. Some of these are “mandatory arrest” laws; some others are “arrest preferred” laws.
Research the domestic violence law in your state:
Is there a state statute related to domestic violence?
Does it cover police discretion?
Is it a mandatory arrest law?
If not, how would you characterize it?
Does the law provide guidelines for police officer handling of domestic violence?
What do those guidelines say?
In your opinion, do you think this law provides clear and effective guidance for police officers?
If your state does not have such a law, find one that does and study it with regard to the preceding questions.
State statutes can be found through some of the legal resource sites on the web. One starting point would be the Reference Desk site (www.refdesk.com). Another way to find states that have domestic violence laws would be to do a web search under the subject of domestic violence. See if any of those sites have reference material on state statutes.
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