There are a multitude of things that can affect a police officer’s discretion. The first big factor that they take into consideration is the suspects demeanor and how they carry themselves in the presence of the officer. A suspect that makes the officers job harder than it must be rather than cooperating with them are at a greater risk of getting arrested than not. Another big factor is the suspects records. The past charges and police run-ins will take a big toll on the officer’s decisions.
In most cases if the officer is in a position where the suspects fate rest in their hands hey’ll face stiffer penalties depending on their record and how extensive it is. Also, another thing that might sway an officer’s discretion is certain variables in the system that are out of their hands. For example, if the courts and correctional systems are backlogged officers may look to be more lenient in attempts to nullify the jam or at least lighten the load a bit.
Also, the officers may formulate their discretion based on all the possible non- incarceration options available in the community if there are any. And finally, the biggest factor in my opinion would certainly be the complaints brought against the suspect. In the event of a complaint the officer’s discretion is altered drastically. Complaints usually carry a lot of weight due to the clear preference they may carry in certain situations and instances. This in turn heightens the urgency and the pressure on the officer to take the complaint into careful consideration when exercising his discretion.
These are the factors that alter police discretion. In my honest opinion I believe that only three of these should be taken into consideration. The first one it the most important of them all being the complaints brought against the suspect. Reason being is how much weight the complaints can carry and how much they can impact the officer’s liberty to exercise discretion depending on the validity of the situation. Also, the next factor that should be taken into consideration is the suspects demeanor.
The reason this one always needs to be in consideration is because this is the suspects chance to showcase their understanding of the situation they’re in and to show the officer that they know how to act properly. This shows the officers that they’ll clean up their acts if the officer chooses to let them go with a warning. And last of all, the suspects records should be taken into consideration as well. The biggest reason amongst others for this to be taken into consideration is to see if the suspect has made actions like the ones that led them to be in the position they find themselves in a regular occurrence.
The record may be the biggest factor in some cases because it almost takes discretion completely off the table for the officer because it may show that the suspect shows no remorse for their actions and it in turn may make the officer feel the need to take harsher action rather than level with the suspect. These are the factors I think that should really come into play. With all that being said I don’t really think any extra special circumstances should be taken into consideration when examining these factors.
I say this because at the end of the day in cases of police discretion being the be all end all these factors already come into play and sway the officer’s judgement dramatically. With that being the case an extra set of special circumstances it would just overly complicate the officer’s duties and impede their chance to exercise discretion entirely. I know that my opinion may not be a popular one but it makes the ost sense in my mind because after a certain point it makes me feel like the special circumstances may make things difficult for the officer.
And in closing l’d just like to compare taking special circumstances into consideration to giving certain people a handicap. After the first time, it would make sense for the officer to possibly take the unique circumstances into consideration but after a while some people may possibly try to abuse the leniency the circumstances could possibly bring. So that’s why I feel the special circumstances should be tossed to the side. To better illustrate an instance of police discretion that is lawed and clearly shows when police discretion is handled the improper way I offer this clip.
Springfield police say officers responded to a domestic disturbance call in the 2100 block of East Stuart Street on Feb. 27. Officer Samuel Rosario engaged in a verbal dispute with a juvenile boy at the scene, according to the Springfield Police Department. “Go back to Mexico, n*****, an unidentified male says to Rosario in the released footage. “I ain’t from Mexico, you stupid motherf***er,” Rosario responds. A short time later, the man asks for the officer’s badge number nd the two hurl profanities at each other for several minutes. “What do you want me to do for you to put some hands on me? %3D Rosario exclaims. “You want these hands? You can have ’em . you a b****. ” Following this exchange Rosario is seen walking toward the teen and appears to push him, saying, “Did I not just touch you? ” The officers body cam footage then cuts to black as, according to Springfield police, the altercation between officer and teenager “escalated into a physical encounter. ”
An unseen woman at the home shouts, “He started it first, police did… the rookie started first.. hat’s assault and battery. ” Toward the end of the video, Rosario shouts, “Dude, I felt bad for you, that’s why I stopped hitting you. Springfield police say a backup officer not involved in the incident reported it to his supervisor. Rosario was arrested and charged with two counts of battery and one count of official misconduct the following morning. This shows what happens when an officer is put in a position where he missuses his discretion. As stated by the officer the police have been there multiple times before on separate occasions due to similar domestic disputes. Rosario firstly tried to level with the family knowing the situation and had being there before.
But down the line he lost his cool and was pushed over the edge by the teenager. Although improperly, he attempted to exercise his police discretion after the altercation got underway and another officer intervened telling the teen to put his hands behind his back because as he stated earlier in the video he wasn’t even going to opt to arrest the teen in the event something happened between the two. This although a showcase of inappropriate police to citizen interaction is also an instance of an officer ttempting to exercise his power of discretion.
Unfortunately for him and those involved he abused that power and it led to this: https://www. youtube. com/watch? V=950BOUj2nvo On May 7th, 2014 in Sumter, S. C. , Officer Gaetano Acerra reached out to Cameron Simmons, 13, after the boy called police following a fight with his mother. Simmons told the officer he didn’t want to live there anymore. Through further investigation by Acerra he soon learned Simmons suffered from back pain because he slept on an air mattress that deflated during the night. And on top of that the boy lived in a near mpty room with little to no other bedroom furniture at all.
So Acerra returned a couple of weeks later with a bed, desk, chair and a TV. He even got a game system for the teen that someone had donated after hearing the story. This is a case where the officer uses his discretion and elects to go above and beyond the call of duty for the child rather than removing him per his initial request. The officer could’ve easily removed the child after the fight with his parents but he instead gave the child more than he could’ve asked for and more than what was certainly asked of him as a police officer.