The autonomy of a police officer or law enforcement agent to make judgments and decisions in the workplace is referred to as police discretion. While policemen are doing their formal day-to-day tasks and duties, they employ discretion. When confronted with a circumstance, law enforcement officers have a variety of options due to their discretion. Police discretion that incorporates policeman decision-making, can be found in various parts of police work and is sometimes seen as a necessary measure (McNamara & Burns, 2021). In police, discretion is required since officers are frequently confronted with tough situations combining several circumstances and variables.
It is intended that a policeman’s official education and on-the-job expertise will inspire him or her to use discretion appropriately. Scholars classified the elements that impact an officer’s exercise of discretion in order to truly comprehend police operations (McNamara & Burns, 2021). Organizational effects, situational features, officer traits, and neighborhood or community affects are the four police discretion variables (McNamara & Burns, 2021). Citizens demand police officers to make the right decisions all of the time, and they should properly perform their activities constantly. Nevertheless, there can be situations when discretion or prudence is misused and the norms are violated.
Firstly, it is obligatory to emphasize organizational influence variables that are related to police discretion. The competence or bureaucratic character of the unit, the agency’s size, supervisory levels, and the turnover of personnel are all variables that impact police discretion (McNamara & Burns, 2021). It is plausible to argue that there are elements that influence how militaristic a department is and how officers control work. Policemen in more bureaucratic divisions, according to academics, are more focused on law and order than on delivering overall services (McNamara & Burns, 2021). Secondly, police techniques and situational circumstances are inextricably linked in terms of police discretion. The most compelling causes for police abuse are characteristics such as suspect features and actions, as well as the nature of the contexts in which police and citizenry interact (McNamara & Burns, 2021). Studies showing African Americans are heavily represented in charges, use of aggression, and police killings are of special importance in terms of enforcement in a multicultural society (McNamara & Burns, 2021). Thus, the second variable is substantially connected to multiculturalism and negative factors, for example, discrimination.
Furthermore, it is feasible to highlight the third variable type, which is officer characteristics. In average, it can be assumed that officer attributes are not relevant indicators of police discretion and conduct. According to the National Institute of Justice assessment on excessive use of force, violence is unconnected to a policeman’s personal attributes such as age, gender, or race (McNamara & Burns, 2021). In terms of multiculturalism, it was stated that Black policemen can face double marginalization, in which some in the Black society regard them as betrayers, while White policemen may mistrust them as coworkers (McNamara & Burns, 2021). Finally, neighborhood and community influences factor constitutes the fourth category of variables regarding police discretion. When considering police and multiculturalism, it is critical to examine neighborhood-related characteristics. The study field on police use of lethal force, for instance, emphasizes the role of neighborhood or contextual factors on officer discretion (McNamara & Burns, 2021). Furthermore, research on wealth distribution imbalances shows that income disparities across groups contribute to societal instability (McNamara & Burns, 2021). The ruling class’s reaction to societal structure instability might include the presence of force or violence.
McNamara, R., & Burns, R. (2021). Multiculturalism, crime, and criminal justice. Oxford University Press.