Institutional Affiliation
Describe the Use of Force and the Use of Discretion in Criminal Investigation
Use of force and discretion when it comes to investigating crimes are essential but also controversial. Nevertheless, they are some of the fundamental elements in policing. In law enforcement, use of force is when a police officer makes an effort to make an unwilling individual comply with orders. Different forms of physical control such as handcuffing and shooting, among others, can be applied by officers while at work. The main concern about the use of force is that the policy does not clearly define the amount and the situations when force should be used (Dunham & Alpert, 2015). On the other hand, discretion means the authority and ability to make independent decisions. In policing, discretion enables law enforcement officers to decide the course of action on their subjects whenever problems arise. Whether or not to arrest an individual and whether or not to conduct a search or carry out investigatory stops are some of the discretionary powers possessed by the police. To a large extent, discretion encompasses the use of force. Police officers are highly scrutinized and accused by the public of misusing their discretionary powers and using unnecessary force. Despite the allegations, the use of force and discretion are important as they make policing easier and also enhance security. This paper will contain a detailed discussion of the use of force and the use of discretion in criminal investigations.
Use of force
Generally, there has dependably been a slight dimension of a question between society everywhere and the individuals who have been pledged to serve and secure them. In spite of the fact that law enforcement officers have been given the power to utilize force when necessary, the public has, for quite some time been concerned about the misuse of this authority. The expanded open examination on policing by the community members has gone far towards keeping officers fair and to exposing the individuals who are most certainly not. In light of the increased scrutiny, law enforcement officers, prison guards, and other criminology and criminal justice experts have made advances in policies and technology-wise (Dunham & Alpert, 2015). Moreover, courts and criminal justice agencies and POST commissions have established rules to help officers in settling on trustworthy choices on when and how to use force. Regardless of this advancement in police strategies and innovation, a distinction still exists between what people in general observes, expects and comprehends about law requirement practices and how police and criminal investigation officers are prepared to react to the utilization of control circumstances.
Regularly, when individuals from the general population question an officer’s use of force, they first inquire whether it was essential in any case. Similarly, courts often first determine whether or not it was justifiable to apply any power whatsoever before introducing the point of excessive force (Dunham & Alpert, 2015). To see this inquiry legitimately, we should initially comprehend a definitive objective of officers when they use power. Generally, the main aim of applying force is to impact a capture and bring a potentially threatening circumstance to peace and to an end as soon as possible, without harming the officer or the innocent individuals from the public. Obviously, the favored result would be for the resisting individual to comply and agree to be arrested calmly. At the point when that doesn’t happen, however, officers must make a fast decision on whether to employ force and exactly which one to utilize. Amid that decision-making process, the prosperity of the suspect is frequently an optional concern.
Since the decisions must be made fast, officers might not have the necessary information with respect to the amount of risk a subject really presents before they feel that they should make a move. In Graham versus Connor, the U.S. Preeminent Court set up the “objective reasonableness standard” to decide if using force was reasonable. Objective reasonableness standard basically determines whether a sensible individual with similar training as police officers, education, and experience would have acted similarly under comparable situations. To make an inference, three variables are considered: whether the subject represents a prompt danger or not, the seriousness of the supposed wrongdoing, and if the subject is trying to escape or oppose being arrested (Hess, Orthmann, & Cho, 2016). Verifiable in the purported “Graham factors” is the subject of whether the officer was being reasonable to use force when making an arrest in the first place.
Above all, objective reasonableness emphasizes that officers must think and act quickly. Under these conditions, the information accessible to the officer at the time they settled on a choice to apply force is what the officer is criticized with, instead of what may be revealed afterward. For instance, if an officer shoots a subject who is compromising him and pointing a firearm at him, it does not make a difference if it is found out later that the weapon was not stacked. On the off chance that the officer can express that during the scene he perceived that his life or the life of another person was insecure, at that point he will be supported in his move to employ dangerous power. If a criminal investigation officer learns sometime later that what they thought was a weapon was really a toy firearm, a mobile phone, or even a wallet, they will be judged based on their prior knowledge (Hess, Orthmann, & Cho, 2016). Officers should not, delay until the subject pulls the trigger or attempts to wound them before they respond. Rather, they should gauge the totality of the conditions and settle on a choice dependent on the realities accessible to them right at the moment.
The concept of objective reasonableness also suggests that officers are not really restricted to the minimal measure of power conceivable. Instead, they are called to apply a force which falls within the scope of what may be viewed as rational. This is a vital qualification to make in light of the fact that much of the time there is a scope of force alternatives accessible, which may all be a suitable reaction. For instance, if a subject is battling and opposing capture, an officer may utilize pepper spray, an electronic control gadget, or hands-on control strategies to make them comply (Hess, Orthmann, & Cho, 2016). Either of these decisions might be sensible even though the public may consider the taser or pepper spray as more inhuman and inappropriate than going hands on. An officer’s activities, at that point, are not assessed dependent on what they could have done any other way, but instead, they are surveyed dependent on what may be viewed as reasonable.
Objective reasonableness turns out to be particularly essential when considering occasions of savage power by cops (Tully, 2015). ‘Objective Reasonableness’ as a Standard for International Judicial Review. Journal of International Dispute Settlement6(3), 546-567.). Overall, law enforcement officers are educated at the police schools to meet savage power with lethal force. They are prepared and given the methods and strategies to ensure they make it home toward the finish of their day of work, and they invest broad energy preparing in the utilization of guns. It is crucial to understand that, while talking about the usage of deadly force by officers, the normal aftereffect of a subject’s activities should not be automatically death. Rather, lethal power is depicted as activities that are probably going to cause either demise or incredible real mischief, which could incorporate perpetual distortion without necessarily dying.
The use of discretion
Officer discretion is a fundamental instrument in policing. The thought behind police discretion is that the law ought to be adaptable so as to guarantee that the very essence of the law is fulfilled (Price, 2014). Dismissal of discretionary authority in policing by making “must arrest” offenses would result in a large number of pointless captures while making “can’t arrest” offenses would make people disregard the current laws. To start with, who would be responsible for choosing which violations should fall under “must capture” or “can’t capture”? One reason law enforcement officers have the freedom to make independent decisions while on duty is so they may take the context of the conditions into thought while researching a specific episode to help decide the requirement for a capture. While numerous violations are genuinely clear, there are additionally those examinations which require looking into other factors. Most of the time, a cop is alone at work, so circumstances emerge where discretion must become possibly the most important factor. Therefore, the cop must make a decision on their own on what course of action to take during those times.
With regards to policing, discretion implies that officers are given some space on which they can depend as they settle on decisions that sway the general population they are policing. There are a few offices that give their officers more discretion. They trust that by employing great individuals, they can give more room for those people to guarantee that the objectives of public safety are achieved. Different divisions give their officers less discretion power, requesting that they submit to a specific arrangement of norms. A standout among the most essential areas where police have discretion is in choosing who to stop. The vast majority submit some infringement over the span of their day (Price, 2014). Frequently, it is something little like neglecting to keep up a path amid a turn. Others will go a couple of miles for each hour over as far as possible. It is clearly unrealistic to capture everyone who happens to violate the law. It is additionally not fitting for officers to do as such. This implies they should choose whether the individual overstepping the law is representing some risk to open safety. Officers may genuinely use discretion with regards to issuing traffic tickets and other non-genuine references. Their discretion is bound by a few requirements, including delicate or implicit amounts. In any case, they can choose to give a few people alerts on the off chance that they consider this would be the best method to ensure general society. Some gripe that the utilization of discretion can prompt injustice based on race, sexual orientation, religion and so forth. Others hold this is a critical capacity that guarantees the law isn’t excessively unbending.
Likewise, officers once in a while have discretion with regards to who to capture and how to do it. At the point when a warrant for capture is issued, there is no attentiveness included. In any case, officers working without a warrant must choose whether the whined of wrongdoing is sufficient to legitimize the capture (Gerstein & Prescott, 2014). For example, an individual who is tanked in broad daylight could be captured, however, a few officers may decide to simply place him in a taxi and send him home. In like manner, discretion must be utilized in deciding how much power is expected to bring a suspect into compliance.
Examples of police discretion
Envision that Officer Bob is on watch when he sees that a car is driving in the downpour without its lights on, which is illegal in the state. Officer Bob pulls the vehicle over and demands the driver’s permit and enlistment. Officer Bob sees that the driver has no record of any sort; in this manner, it is up to Officer Bob’s prudence regarding whether to give the driver a ticket for driving without lights on amid a rainstorm. Officer Bob chooses essentially to caution the driver in this case. He utilizes his own carefulness to settle on this choice.
Besides, envision that Officer Bob is on watch in a territory known for medication dealing. Officer Bob gets a dispatch ready that there is a suspect by walking in the territory who simply held up a bank. Officer Bob at that point sees an individual coordinating the portrayal and tails him by walking (Gerstein & Prescott, 2014). He sees that the individual is conveying a firearm. Officer Bob sees the individual attack a bystander and should now utilize his watchfulness to choose whether he will intercede and potentially draw and utilize his weapon, or get back to for up help. Officer Bob chooses to intercede. He draws his weapon and requests the suspect to solidify. The suspect complies, and Officer Bob makes a capture.
Overall, the use of force and discretion are vital tools in criminal investigations. Even though the public highly characterizes the police with excessive use of force, officers are trained to use the necessary force based on the circumstances they experience. For instance, a cop may be compelled to put handcuffs on a suspect who is resisting arrest. They may also use guns to protect themselves and the public in case they are under threat. As for discretionary powers, they play a significant role in maintaining law and order in addition to making policing easy for the law enforcement officers.
Dunham, R. G., & Alpert, G. P. (2015). Critical issues in policing: Contemporary readings. Waveland Press.
Gerstein, C., & Prescott, J. J. (2014). Process costs and police discretion. Harv. L. Rev. F.128, 268.
Hess, K. M., Orthmann, C. H., & Cho, H. L. (2016). Criminal investigation. Cengage learning.
Price, Z. S. (2014). Enforcement discretion and executive duty. Vand. L. Rev.67, 671.
Tully, S. R. (2015). ‘Objective Reasonableness’ as a Standard for International Judicial Review. Journal of International Dispute Settlement6(3), 546-567.