MCJA LEPS Phase One: Power, Authority, and Discretion (Class 3 of 21)

by | May 3, 2022

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The power of a law enforcement officer as authorized by the Federal or State Constitution, statutes, or court decisions, is discretionary.  During their duties, law enforcement officers regularly exercise discretion by making choices among a variety of possible actions.  “Police discretion is essential.  It cannot be eliminated.  Any effort to eliminate it would be ridiculous.  Discretion is the essence of police work” (Davis, 1975).

Through an online training format, this course emphasizes the boundaries of law enforcement discretion, guidelines for exercising it, and consequences for its inappropriate use.  Officers must act within the authority granted to them by the Federal and State Constitutions, statutes, and court decisions.  Officers must also act within their agency policies and the ethical and professional standards of law enforcement.  Discretion must always operate in the direction of enhancing justice.

At the end of this unit of instruction, the student will be able to accomplish the following objectives as outlined in the lesson:

X.X.1  Identify the authorities that provide the boundaries of discretion.

X.X.2 Describe what is meant by law enforcement officer discretion.

X.X.3  Identify situations that justifiably involve less than 100% enforcement of all laws.

X.X.4. Identify consequences to officers for the inappropriate use of discretion.