Concept Paper Discretion
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Background: Discretion is the exercising of choice. Usually discretion involves a conscious, purposeful decision to disregard a directive, protocol, or normative behavior in favor of some alternative recourse deemed to be more appropriate to the current circumstance or condition. The exercise of discretion is fraught with risk, however. Deviation from direction may be construed as disrespect, disobedience, or worse. But a failure to identify the appropriate application of discretion may brand the leader as insensitive, unrealistic, or a martinet. The various elements and characters in the criminal justice system are replete with the opportunity (and the necessity) for the exercise of discretion, none more so than the law enforcement function. The role of the police administrator is doubly challenging, as he or she must determine how best to use discretion as well as encourage or dissuade discretion by subordinate members of the agency.
Project Assignment: You will submit a concept paper describing two discretionary situations for a police chief. The situations may focus on either operational issues (e.g., uniform patrol deployment, criminal investigation/arrest, traffic control, crime prevention, etc.) or administrative issues (e.g., disciplinary action, hiring, training, budget/procurement, public information, etc.). The exercise of discretion in one situation may be appropriate while being inappropriate in another.
For each situation, you will describe:
• the situation, the controlling protocol, and the discretionary alternative(s)
• the reasons supporting compliance with the controlling protocol
• the justification for the exercise of discretion
• the determination that discretion is appropriate/inappropriate, and why
In support of this project a minimum of two additional sources must be referenced in addition to textbook and course reading materials.
CAUTION: This paper must reflect the discretion exercised by the chief of police in his/her capacity as a police administrator. Situations describing the discretion of a police officer are inappropriat for this project.
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