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Police Discretion in Decision Making

Officers are normally authorized to use their individual discretionary powers for motor vehicle offenses. Officers may warn a violator instead of issuing a summons, even for multiple violations, when in the officer's judgment such action is reasonable and appropriate in achieving voluntary compliance with traffic law and regulations. When warranted, officers may issue motor vehicle summonses in accordance with law. The officer's decision should be based on a combination of training, experience, and common sense.

Police make decisions on the street every day. Now it is your turn. You stop a vehicle going 45 mph in a 35 mph zone. You just wrote a speeding ticket 10 minutes ago in the same location for the same speed. This time it is someone you know. You have the option of issuing a written warning or a citation. What do you do if the person is:

A close friend
The mayor
The chief's son or daughter
A police officer from another community

There is no mobile video camera in your patrol vehicle and you are alone on a desolate area of the highway.

Solution Preview

Technically, all these people should receive a ticket for going over the speed limit, especially if another person just got one going the same speed. However, if you know the person, most likely you will not give a close friend or the mayor of the town a ticket. In the same light, you will be more prone to give the chief's son or ...

Solution Summary

The expert examines police discretion in decision making for individual powers.

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