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NCJ Number: 96655 Find in a Library
Title: Politics of Police Discretion (From Discretion, Justice and Democracy, P 19-30, 1985, Carl F Pinkele and William C Louthan, eds. - See NCJ-96653)
Author(s): G H Williams
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 12
Sponsoring Agency: Iowa State University Press
Ames, IA 50010
Sale Source: Iowa State University Press
Press Building
Ames, IA 50010
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper examines police arrest policies and considers the effects that other institutions and agencies of government have on those policies.
Abstract: The major obstacle to formal action to control officers' arrest decisions is that State legislative commands are ambiguous. Legislatures enact State statutes that seemingly mandate full enforcement of the laws; however, they only provide enough resources for partial enforcement. Because of the nature of the State legislative institution, simply having the power to act does not mean that action is automatically forthcoming. Further, research indicates that specific legislative proposals to control police discretion are virtually nonexistent. An analysis of several States that revised their criminal codes over the past 20 years reveals a lack of interest in repealing full enforcement statutes. Additionally, legislatures have not attempted to lay out the policy objectives of statutes to guide officers in enforcement. Generally, prosecutors have been officers in enforcement. Generally, prosecutors have been loath to draw attention to their discretionary powers and have been reluctant to get involved in the development of arrest policy guidelines. Police discretion is a low priority issue to local government officials. Finally, for both political and legal reasons, police have not been motivated to undertake substantive rulemaking. Development of law enforcement rules may be in violation of State laws, and guidelines could be used against the police in litigation of criminal cases. A broad approach to assessing the ability to control law enforcement policy is needed.
Index Term(s): Arrest and apprehension; Arrest procedures; Police discretion; Police policies and procedures; Police policy development
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