Avenues of Arrest

Avenues of Arrest

Permitting an officer to determine the manner in which an arrest will take place is important as long as there are rules and regulations to guide the arrest decisions. The police exercise discretion in performing various day-to-day activities including arrests, use of physical force, writing traffic tickets and summons, and investigating crimes. Several reasons make discretion an important aspect of making arrests.

First, the judgment whether to make a custodial arrest or release on own recognizance (ROR) depends on the available resources. Limited time and budgetary constraints require the police to determine the most effective approaches to enforcing the law. Therefore, it is important to allow a police officer to determine the situations when to make a custodial arrest or an ROR considering that most violations of the law are minor offenses.

For example, an officer can choose to make an ROR for misdemeanors such as traffic violations and implement a custodial arrest for felonies such as robbery with violence. This discretion is necessary because the requirement that police officers enforce all the laws fully would considerably overwhelm the courts, jails and prisons because the police would implement full custodial arrests even for minor offenses (Dempsey & Forst, 2015).

Furthermore, this approach would hamper police work by alienating the public from law enforcement officers. Minor offenses should allow police officers more freedom to exercise discretion in comparison to the serious crimes. The considerations that guide courts in granting an ROR also apply to police officers when making the judgment to grant an ROR to the offender in the street or during the booking process.

According to FindLaw (n.d.), the considerations include the severity of the crime, suspect’s criminal history, the threat to public safety if the offender gets an ROR, and the suspect’s family and community ties. These considerations allow police action with minimal risk of violating the suspect’s constitutional rights.

The different avenues of arrest do not grant law enforcement officers too much discretion. Police officers make a significant number of the decisions in the criminal justice system. The police make these decisions on streets and often in situations where they have little or no time to consult with other officers, judges and prosecutors.

Furthermore, the officers have little time to evaluate critically all the facts before deciding whether to make an arrest or ROR (Gaines & Kappeler, 2014). Police officers have to make split-second decisions at any time of day or night. These work settings are contrary to those of judges and prosecutors as they have sufficient time to make careful consideration of all the available information and reach a reasoned conclusion.

A police officer is the first decision maker in the American criminal justice system and his ability to exercise discretion is important to the enforcement of law. The different avenues of arrest allow police officers to make important considerations in determining the most effective way to respond to a crime.

The U.S justice system considers each individual as a unique human being. For example, a police officer may use a custodial arrest when dealing with an aggressive traffic violator. The officer may apply the ROR for a traffic violator who is cooperative and respectful to the police.

Therefore, the ability of police officers to decide the avenue of arrest to use in the different situations is necessary. Furthermore, many police departments have policies to regulate the discretion by their officers to prevent incidences of police misconduct and violation of individual’s constitutional rights.

Therefore, there exist limits on police discretion to reflect the objectives and operating philosophy of the respective police agencies.

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