Police discretion stands for the freedom of decision-making given to the police officer when performing certain aspects of their duties, such as investigatory stops, ticketing, and arresting, among others (Bonger, 2015). Discretion allows for flexibility with the letter of the law to ensure that its spirit is satisfied. Some of the most common examples of police discretion involve the choice of whether to write a ticket for a minor infraction or not (Bonger, 2015).
Kansas City Preventative Patrol Study
Kansas City preventative patrol study showed that there was no statistical difference in crime commitment and prevention rates despite the presence or absence of patrols (Robinson & Cussen, 2017). This study demonstrated that purposeless patrolling is a waste of time, energy, and money. The study brought about a reconsideration of how patrols should be deployed. The implications are still important today, but may not be universally applicable, as it has been 50 years, and the number of officers and the nature of crimes changed since.
Reactive and Proactive Policing
Reactive policing emphasizes a call-for-service approach, with the police going into action only upon the citizen’s request (Robinson & Cussen, 2017). An example of such would be a woman calling the police to report domestic violence, and an officer being dispatched to the site. Proactive policing involves preventing crimes before they are reported or could happen (Robinson & Cussen, 2017). A sting operation is an example of proactive policing.
Problem-oriented policing is a proactive policing strategy that aims to reduce the crime levels in a given area by targeting the motivators for committing crimes (Robinson & Cussen, 2017). These may include interventions to the infrastructure, targeting the ringleaders rather than the customers or the deliverers, shutting down illegal markets, and similar actions. Though this type of policing is very widespread in police departments around the world, it also draws criticism on the grounds of bias, stereotyping, and implementing localized solutions to systemic problems (Robinson & Cussen, 2017).
Directed and Traditional Random Patrols
A traditional random patrol is the standard procedure where police officers are spread out around the city to discourage crime and antisocial activity in their presence (Bonger, 2015). Their deployment is not based on crime level data within any particular levels of the city. Directed patrols are different from random patrols in that the police department purposefully allocates individuals to areas based on the likelihood of criminal activity (Bonger, 2015).
Traditional Detective Operations
A detective, or an investigator, is a specialized member of the law enforcement agency (Bonger, 2015). They solve crimes by typically performing standard detective operations, which include talking to and interrogating witnesses and informants, creating networks of assistants within the community, collecting evidence from the crime scenes, and utilizing police databases (Bonger, 2015). These measures allow them to collect evidence to bring to court.
Entrapment is a legal concept about interactions between police officers and the accused before or during the crime (Robinson & Cussen, 2017). An entrapment situation arises if the police use their power and position to force someone to commit a crime. An example of such would be an undercover police officer begging an individual to sell her some drugs she possessed for her use, for days on end, and then arresting them when they cave in. It is frequently used as a defense against legal charges (Robinson & Cussen, 2017).
The CSI effect refers to how crime shows skewer the perceptions of the jurors to heavily favor the side of the defense by placing unreachable standards of proof on the investigation (Robinson & Cussen, 2017). The term has gotten its name from one of the most popular shows in the world, called CSI: Crime scene investigation. Additional issues associated with the CSI effect include wrongful knowledge and stereotypes perpetuated through mass media, forcing court actors to educate the jurors for extended periods to reduce bias and eliminate wrongful knowledge.
Bonger, W. A. (2015). An introduction to criminology. Routledge.
Robinson, S., & Cussen, T. (2017). The criminology and criminal justice companion. Macmillan International Higher Education.