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Chapter 11. Issues Concerning Police Conduct. Police discretion is the freedom of an agency or individual officer to choose to act or not. Whether such discretion is positive or negative is an issue

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chapter 11

Chapter 11

Issues Concerning Police Conduct

Police discretion is the freedom of an agency or individual officer to choose to act or not. Whether such discretion is positive or negative is an issue
  • Discretion might be viewed on a continuum form low to high. Low-discretion situations include those involving routine activities such as executing a search warrant, responding to a citizens complaint or seeing an obvious violation of the law, for example, a motorist running a red light.
High-discretion situations are less clear cut
  • Example, responding to a call from a citizen reporting a fight going on next door.
  • Upon arrival, officers must determine what the situation is and sort our who is the victim and who is the perp or if both are at fault.
There is much controversy over whether study results indicate a pattern of systematic discrimination or a disparity that is related to other factors such as involvement of crime.
  • Profiling:
    • Racially biased policing is at its core a human right issue.
    • It is not solely a “law enforcement” issue, but rather a problem that can be solved only through police-citizen partnerships based on mutual trust and respect.
Use of Force:
    • If there is no resistance, no force should be used.
    • Force also includes police dog bites, unconsciousness-rendering holds, handcuffs, and leg restraints, chemical agents, electrical devices (Taser) and firearm pointed in a citizens direction or the threat to carry out any of these types of force.
Subject intoxication appears to be a substantial predictor of police use of force during a traffic stop.
  • The Use of Force Continuum:

No force with cooperative person to ordinary force used with a person who is resisting’ to extraordinary force-used with an assaultive person.

Reasonable Force:
    • Graham v. Conner
      • Graham was diabetic and needed juice. A friend drove him to the store. The line was to long so he hurried out. An officer saw and was suspicious. Officer stopped and refused to provide the sugar he needed or listen to Graham. Graham sustained a broken foot, cuts on his wrists, a bruised forehead and injured sholder.
Excessive Force:
    • The application of an amount and/or frequency of force greater than that required to compel compliance from a willingness or unwilling subject
  • Less-Lethal Force:
    • Force is needed but deadly force is too extreme
    • Mace, tear gas, oleoresin capsicum (OC) pepper spray, taser, projectile launchers and beanbags, flexible baton rounds designed to deliver blunt trauma
Chemical agents such as CS and CN (tear gas) are less lethal weapons effective for crowd control.
  • Less-lethal can still be lethal.
  • Deadly Force:
    • Justification for use of deadly force must consider not only the legal right, but also the need to apprehend the suspect compared to the arresting officer’s safety and the value of human life.
Ability, Opportunity and Jeopardy must be present to justify use of deadly force.
  • Civil Liability:
    • Today concern for civil liability is quiet evident in law enforcement agencies’ policy and practices.
  • Corruption: Slippery Slope
  • O.W. Wilson says that something seemingly insignificant can put an officer on a slippery slope leading to major crimes.
The slippery slope often begins with an officer accepting gratuities, tokens of appreciation.
  • Ethics: moral behavior, doing what is considered right and just
  • Code of Ethics: include responsibilities of officer, confidentiality, integrity, cooperation with other officers and agencies, personal-professional capabilities and even private life.
Integrity is a series of concepts and beliefs that provide structure to officers’ professional and personal ethics.
    • Include: honesty, honor, morality, allegiance, principled behavior, and dedication to mission
  • Three areas in which to enhance police integrity and reduce corruption are:
    • Applicant selection process
    • Consistent reinforcement of values
    • Anticorruption posture of checks and balances