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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76547 Find in a Library
Title: Officer Discretion - Limits and Guidelines (From Critical Issues in Law Enforcement, P 78-85, 1981, Harry W More, Jr, ed. - See NCJ-76546)
Author(s): J C Zurcher; B Cohen
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: Anderson Publishing Co
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Sale Source: Anderson Publishing Co
Publicity Director
2035 Reading Road
Cincinnati, OH 45202
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The benefits and advantages to both police departments and society of providing police officers with formal policy guidelines in such matters as arrest decisions, investigative procedures, routine patrol procedures, and the use of force are discussed.
Abstract: The nature of police work requires that officers have the flexibility to make on-the-spot determinations in a wide variety of situations. These decisions must be appropriate and fair and conform to the law and to the Constitution; Yet, many police departments do not provide any formal policy guidelines to officers. In the absence of such guidelines, police officers themselves make decisions based on their own understanding of the law and of the police role, which may be influenced by personal biases, values, and prejudices. Court-provided guidelines often reflect an inadequate understanding of police procedures and are inflexibly enforced. The quality of law enforcement is enhanced by police-made rules, which strike a better balance between the needs of law enforcement and the protection of individual rights, enabling officers to apply discretion uniformly regardless of individual biases. Police-made rules also enable administrators to make promotion or dismissal decisions based on adherence to guidelines. The appearance of arbitrariness is removed, promoting better police-community relations and the likelihood of accidents or gross abuse becomes limited. While drafting departmental police guidelines, the assistance of a legally trained advisor is invaluable. Accompanying the text are 10 footnotes and a list of 10 references.
Index Term(s): Decisionmaking; Police decisionmaking; Police discretion; Police legal advisers; Police legal limitations; Police management; Police reform; Police responsibilities
Note: Reprinted from Police Chief, V 43, June 1976.
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