Law Enforcement

Discretion Scenario: law enforcement


Police discretion is an authority vested to the police officers by their agencies, to decide either to pursue a situation using police procedures of just issue a warning and let go the offender.  The police choose the convenience they have to enforce the law in a discriminatory manner (Tieger, 1971). The streets are the common places where the police implement the law in a discriminatory manner. The paper shall focus o on police discretion and how it affects the public and officer involved.

The scenario under law enforcement.

Police are required to patrol and enforce the law in various places; they are expected to apply discretion depending on the situation based on their best evaluation. However, police take the advantage and misuse this authority and allow crime to grow in the streets, and subsequently the whole society. In a typical example, a patrol police meet a young man smoking marijuana and on inspection, finds another unsmoked roll. The police decided to let the young person go without the idea the young person could be not only a smoker but also a potential distributor. The police may be unsuspicious and let a potential drug baron to go and continue spooling the society.

Decide whether or not you will strictly enforce procedure

I will choose to arrest the young person and take him into custody to answer for his crime. It’s against the law to let a criminal free under various reasons. The young person can a very vital point of a serious investigation to capture the suppliers of the marijuana and probably other illicit drugs. This way I will have enforced the law which is the role of a police officer in the society. Discriminatory enforcement of the law is a crime of its own and should be avoided by police officers.

Reaction and response to a watching citizen

A citizen watching depending on their thinking the response will be different. The first scenario a person may find my pardoning of the young person humane since young people are always careless ad should be pardoned to allow them time to understand things about life (Bronitt & Stenning, 2011). On the other end, a person may consider the situation a violation of law by letting a criminal walk free. An informed person may report such incidence to the relevant authorities.


It will only be proper to perform the law enforcement role as expected and mandated by the police service. Therefore arresting the young man will be necessary to ensure the law if promoted in the society.

What a supervisor might do as a result of the decision.

A supervisor may decide to enforce punitive measure for not enforcing the law and allowing suspected criminal walk free. The police may be stripped off the ranks and the mandate to implement discretion in the line of duty. The fourteenth amendment as provided by the Supreme Court suggests that equal protection should be promoted by enforcing the law without discrimination (Tieger, 1971).


Police discretion should be considered a freedom to apply the law by the police officers without feeling micromanaged by their superiors or politicians. However, the police should not be discriminate in executing their mandate. Allowing criminals interact with law abiding citizens should be prevented by all means to ensure the society observe the law. Police should be audited on the frequency and reasons for applying the discretion authority in the line of duty.  


Bronitt, S. H., & Stenning, P. (2011). Understanding discretion in modern policing.

Tieger, J. H. (1971). Police discretion and discriminatory enforcement. Duke Law Journal1971(4), 717-743.