LAW ENFORCEMENT & SOCIETY

DISCUSSION 11

How is discretion in policing different from discretion in other organizations? 

What are the four points mentioned in the text about discretionary decisions related to order maintenance made by patrol officers? 

The police continue to promote the "myth of full enforcement" for five reasons. What are those reasons? 

EXERCISE 11

Assignment Prompt

One important area of police discretion involves the handling of domestic violence situations. A number of states have addressed this issue by enacting laws attempting to control police discretion. Some of these are "mandatory arrest" laws; some others are "arrest preferred" laws.

Research the law in your state. Is there a state statute related to domestic violence? Does it cover police discretion? Is it a mandatory arrest law? If not, how would you characterize it? Does the law provide guidelines for police officer handling of domestic violence? What do those guidelines say? In your opinion, do you think this law provides clear and effective guidance for police officers?

If your state does not have such a law, find one that does and study it with regard to the questions above.

State statutes can be found through some of the legal resource sites on the Web. One starting point would be the Reference Desk site ( ). Another way to find states that have domestic violence laws would be to do a Web search under the subject of domestic violence. See if any of those sites have reference material on state statutes.

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