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Policing

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Submitted By lizomendoza
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Elizabeth Mendoza
Article Critique – Police Discretion & Force
Professor Coleman
Police System & Practices / 2328-51001
El Centro College

The degree of force that officers use is heavily influenced by police discretion in real-world situations rather than espoused by a certain agenda. Discretion can be classified into four different categories where administrators, the community, and the individual police officer exercise differing degrees of influence in decision-making. What is needed to help officer discretion is a central ethos that will guide discretion when all other rules fail to help. Normal force is distinct from legal and brutal force (Hunt, 1985). Legal force is taught in police academy. It pertains to being able to subdue, restrain, and control a suspect if the officer is threatened with great bodily harm. Legal force also encompasses the use of deadly force if justified. Normal force is learned when the officer hits the streets and is conditioned to buy more effective weapons, which produce more damage to the suspect. In the academy recruits are taught not to hit a person on the head or neck because of their vulnerability, but on the street officers must hit the suspect wherever they can to control them. Peer approval further justifies this treatment. Thus, when police use the necessary amount of force they are not held accountable for a needed increase, but in fact will be looked down upon by fellow officers if a rookie does not show the necessary aggression. Police use discretion through weighing the costs and benefits of each situation (Wilson, 1968). The helpfulness of their choice is much more important than obeying their duty or moral. Thus, when normal force is explained it is done under the pretense of justifiably. To recap, normal force is simply the force used under police discretion that is neither legally taught nor...

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