Dicretionary use of authority assignment

Discretionary Use of Authority: Scenarios

Because of the nature of law enforcement work, police officers have always maintained a certain amount of discretion. Due to the amount of interaction that officers have with members of the public, this discretion must be fair, equal, impartial, and legal. As such, the use of discretion by officers is both a foundation of police work and a component of community policing.

Review the below scenarios. For each scenario, provide a justification for every possible response (Part A). In your justification, include the factors that support or influence each response. In Part B, choose how you personally would respond, provide a rationale for why you feel it is the most appropriate response for the scenario, and explain the role that discretion played in your decision.

Using Microsoft Word, copy the scenarios, and provide your answers directly in Parts A and B under each question.

Scenario 1: You respond to a call of a theft. Upon arrival, you find that an 18-year-old female has stolen baby formula and diapers by exiting the store without paying. You speak with her and find that she has a newborn baby, does not have any source of income, and needed the formula and diapers for the baby. As such, theft is still a crime. Do you arrest the woman or not? Why?

Part A.

Scenario 1
Possible Response Justification for This Response
I choose to arrest the woman.  
I choose not to arrest the woman.  

Part B.

  • Which response would you choose and why? Also, explain the role of discretion in your response.

Scenario 2: You respond to an armed robbery. You notice an individual matching the description of the offender. As you approach him, you observe what appears to be a gun in his waistband. Do you immediately attempt to stop him? Or do you wait for backup? Why?

Part A.

Scenario 2
Possible Response Justification for This Response
I immediately attempt to stop him.  
I wait for backup.  

Part B.

  • Which response would you choose and why? Also, explain the role of discretion in your response.

Scenario 3: You stop a 16-year-old for going through a red light. He explains to you that he is late for work. Do you give him a ticket?

Part A.

Scenario 3
Possible Response Justification for This Response
I write the juvenile a ticket.  
I choose not to write the juvenile a ticket.  

Part B.

  • Which response would you choose and why? Also, explain the role of discretion in your response.

Scenario 4: You arrest a male individual. Just as you place the handcuffs on him, he breaks free and jumps into a nearby contaminated lake in order to avoid arrest. What actions do you take? Who do you notify? Do you jump in the lake?

Part A.

Scenario 4
Possible Response Justification for This Response
I choose to jump in the lake.  
I choose not to jump in the lake.  

Part B.

  • Which response would you choose and why? Explain the role of discretion in your response. Also, explain the legal and moral considerations affecting your decision.

Scenario 5: As a police officer, you are assigned to the same location every day. You become very familiar with the crime that takes place, specifically drug sales, robberies, and shootings. You are aware that a specific gang is responsible for the majority of the crimes. The gang members are all male, are of the same race, wear the same colors of clothing, and populate the exact area that you are assigned to during the time that these crimes take place. While on patrol, you observe the individuals matching the description of the gang members committing all of these crimes. The citizens are calling for the police to take action. What behaviors raise your suspicion? What action do you take? Do you stop these individuals? Do you search these individuals? How do you go about investigating these individuals?

Part A.

Scenario 5
Possible Response Justification for This Response
I choose to take action against the gang.  
I choose to take some action.  
I choose to take no action.  

Part B.

  • Which response would you choose and why? Explain the role of discretion in your response. Also, explain any Supreme Court cases affecting your decision. 

Your assignment must follow these formatting requirements:

  • Be typed, double-spaced, using Times New Roman font (size 12), with one-inch margins on all sides; citations and references should follow the Strayer Writing Standards (SWS).
  • Include a cover page containing the title of the assignment, the student’s name, the professor’s name, the course title, and the date. The cover page and the reference page are not included in the required assignment page length.
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