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You will be asked to respond to five different scenarios.

You will be asked to respond to five different scenarios. Answer each scenario (about 1 page per scenario). You will need to:

  1. Decide what action the responding officer should take and provide an explanation/justification for your response.
  2. In your explanation, explain the role that discretion played in your decision. Choose at least five factors from the list below to include in your explanation.

When considering your response for each scenario, remember that because of the nature of law enforcement work, police officers have always maintained a certain amount of discretion. Due to the amount of interaction that officers have with members of the public, this discretion must be fair, equal, impartial, and legal. As such, the use of discretion by officers is both a foundation of police work and a component of community policing.

Note: You may make any and all assumptions necessary to answer these scenarios as long as they do not conflict with the details provided.

FACTORS (CHOOSE AT LEAST 5 FOR EACH SCENARIO):

Environmental factors

  • Nature of the community.
  • Socio-demographic characteristics.
  • Level and type of crime in the community.
  • Police/Community relations.

Organizational factors

  • Department Rules and Regulations.
  • Policies and Procedures.
  • Department bureaucracy.
  • Officer experience.
  • Dimensions of policing: philosophical; strategic; tactical; organizational.

Situational factors

  • Seriousness of crime.
  • Weapon involvement.
  • Victim – Desire to prosecute.
  • Group/gang crime.
  • Suspect’s demeanor.
  • Age/gender/race of involved parties.
  • Suspect’s criminal record.

Ethics

  • Moral values.
  • Cultural/Societal norms.
  • Accountability.
  • Friends/Family/Coworkers.
  • Experience/Upbringing.

Legal

  • Laws.
  • Past practice.
  • Evidence.
  • Victim signatures.
  • Landmark Supreme Court cases.

Scenario 1: Officer Merced responds to a call of a Theft in Progress. Upon arrival, he finds that an 18-year-old female has stolen baby formula and diapers by exiting the store without paying. He speaks with her and finds that she has a newborn baby, does not have any source of income, and needed the formula and diapers for the baby. As such, theft is still a crime. What should Officer Merced do? 

  • Do you arrest the woman or not? What factors influenced your decision?
    • Provide an explanation/justification for your chosen response including the role that discretion played in your decision.
      • Be sure to consider at least five of the provided factors in your explanation.
    • Use evidence and details from the scenario as well as supporting information and examples from the text in your response.

Scenario 2: Dane is in an electronics store where he and a couple of friends are searching for a potential gift to give to a friend. They are happy to find a video game that is on sale but decide to continue looking around the store. They decide to go grab a bite to eat before making a final decision on what to get for their friend. As they are walking out of the store, the security alarm goes off and the store’s security guard notices that Dane has the video game in his hands.

Officer Sutherland arrives at the scene and Dane explains to the officer that he did not intend to steal the video game and simply forgot that it was still in his hands.

  • What should Officer Sutherland do?
    • Provide an explanation/justification for your chosen response including the role that discretion played in your decision.
      • Be sure to consider at least five of the provided factors in your explanation.
    • Use evidence and details from the scenario as well as supporting information and examples from the text in your response.

Scenario 3: Officer Wilson arrives on scene at a local pharmacy where a young woman, Brooke, was caught attempting to steal a plastic bag full of medication. When questioned, Brooke explains that she was trying to steal some medication so that she could sell it and make some money to help her mom pay their rent. Brooke tells the officer that if her mom cannot make the next rent payment, they will be evicted from their apartment. Brooke has never had any encounters with the police and starts sobbing out of remorse for what she has done. Officer Wilson feels sympathetic towards Brooke.

  • What should Officer Wilson do?
    • Provide an explanation/justification for your chosen response including the role that discretion played in your decision.
      • Be sure to consider at least five of the provided factors in your explanation. 
    • Use evidence and details from the scenario as well as supporting information and examples from the text in your response. 

Scenario 4: Jamie is a 17-year-old male who has had a few encounters with the justice system and has recently spent three months in a juvenile center for assaulting another individual. Jamie has been sentenced to probation where he is under a curfew and expected to be home by 9PM. Jamie has previously been given a warning in the past for his inability to meet his curfew. Jamie’s arresting officer, Officer Gomez, notices Jamie walking down the street at approximately 9:12PM.  

  • What should Officer Gomez do?  
    • Provide an explanation/justification for your chosen response including the role that discretion played in your decision.  
      • Be sure to consider at least five of the provided factors in your explanation. 
    • Use evidence and details from the scenario as well as supporting information and examples from the text in your response.   

Scenario 5: Officer Rose is on routine patrol and stops a 16-year-old for going through a red light at a busy intersection. He explains to the officer that he is late for work. After checking his license and registration, Officer Rose finds that the driver has a clean record. 

  • Do you give him a ticket? Do you let him off with a warning? Something else? What factors influenced your decision?  
    • Provide an explanation/justification for your chosen response including the role that discretion played in your decision.  
      • Be sure to consider at least five of the provided factors in your explanation. 
    • Use evidence and details from the scenario as well as supporting information and examples from the text in your response. 

Your assignment must follow these formatting requirements: 

  • Typed, double-spaced, using Times New Roman font (size 12), with one-inch margins on all sides; citations and references. 
  • Your completed assignment should be 5–7 pages long, or a minimum of 1 page per scenario.

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