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NCJ Number: 220348 Find in a Library
Title: Note on the Status of Discretion in Police Research
Journal: Journal of Criminal Justice  Volume:35  Issue:5  Dated:September/October 2007  Pages:570-578
Author(s): Ernest L. Nickels
Date Published: September 2007
Page Count: 9
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined organizational and operational construct of police discretion and the implications and possibilities for theory and research on policing.
Abstract: This article analyzes and discusses research from previously published studies and literature and then recasts it in terms of perceived job autonomy. Discretion is defined by the actions of police officers as well as their lack of action and comprises the capacity to make a work-related decision; the authority to make a legal decision; the use of judgment or interpretation in legal decisions; the relative indeterminacy of law in legal outcomes; the relative salience of extralegal factors in the same; the sheer variability of outcomes across similarly situated legal contexts; the individual agency presumed to drive that variation; the decisionmaking process; and more. It is the single greatest factor influencing police behavior and the reason behavior varies so greatly over time and space. For this reason, strong positions have been taken on how much discretion should be afforded to the police. Much of the research on the subject of discretion was published in the 1960s and 1970s. Prior of the 1970s, the field of police studies existed largely as technical and managerial literature, and has since evolved into a relatively sophisticated filed of theoretical and empirical inquiry. Much of the pioneering work on police discretion undertaken during this period comprises the seminal literature of police studies today. An outline of two general constructs was provided to renew consideration for what precise relevance discretion holds for police theory and research. This study builds upon an article exploring definitional problems in the policing literature presented to the American Society of Criminology in 2002. References
Main Term(s): Police decisionmaking; Police discretion
Index Term(s): Community policing; Discretionary decisions
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