Police Discretion

In line with Michael S. Scott

about Discretion in the Encyclopedia of Law Enforcement:

Police officers exercise a tremendous amount of discretion in carrying out their functions. That is, they make many choices from a range of possible actions or inactions available to them that are not specifically prescribed by law. This simple notion, that seems self-evident to some and controversial to others, lies at the heart of many issues of policing in democratic societies. That police do exercise discretion was only openly acknowledged beginning in the 1960s. The conventional views prior to that time, and persisting among some long thereafter, was that the police function was entirely a ministerial one, that police took only those actions specifically authorized or mandated by legislative bodies. Under this view, policing was understood to be simply a matter of enforcing the laws on the books.

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