Imagine you are driving a 1999 Toyota Corolla, you have 3 car seats in the back with no children present at the time and you just got pulled over by a police officer for going 9 miles per hour over the speed limit on an empty highway. You tell the officer that you just dropped your kids off at day care and are running late to work at the Home Depot store. Now pause and think, as the police officer would you give this man a ticket? Or would you explain to him that he needs to be careful and have a great rest of the day.
Personally, being in this situation before as the officer I did not give this gentleman a ticket. The reason he didn’t get a ticket is because he was very respectful and admitted that he was speeding.
Now take it a step further. Break down everything you see in the car. You notice that the car is roughly 20 years old and has 3 semi used car seats in the back.
Do you think this person can afford a 200-dollar speeding ticket right now? Would it be beneficial to jeopardize putting food on the table for his family just to write a speeding ticket because you can? In my eyes No, it is not. Do not write this man a ticket and potentially take food away from his family. He could be a single father with his grandparents helping. This is a little sample of Officer Discretion. Officer Discretion is a grey type area in a black and white dictionary.
It gives the officer the authority to make an arrest or let an individual walk because of personal morals or wise judgement calls.
In simple terms Officer Discretion is where a police officer uses their own judgement to decide what they should do about an offense they just witnessed. This is single handedly one of the best tools an officer can have. At the same time, it could lead to their demise if executed poorly. Should you arrest the 17-year-old teenager for shoplifting a 15-dollar lip gloss or just call her parents? Imagining yourself as the police officer what would you do? That is your decision to make. Essentially for me this is what can make an above average officer for the community or just an average one.
Learning how to observe your surroundings is critical. Also listening to the nervousness or politeness in someone’s tone is huge. My point is to educate the reader of this blog about Officer Discretion. I want to break it down and show them the potential thought process of some police officers. Not everyone thinks the same, so don’t think just because Officer A didn’t give you a ticket Officer B won’t. In all reality Officer B could be a lot stricter then Officer A, you just honestly never know what to expect when it comes to Officer Discretion. In the end it is that certain police officer’s judgement call to think what the safest way is to handle the situation for you and the community.