Criminal Justice Authority Evaluation
October 31, 2011
Civilian oversight of law enforcement is a vital element of the democratic society. Effective civilian oversight of police is crucial to guarantee that the police use its power of authority in a way that exhibits respect for the law and individual rights and freedoms. The committee’s responsibility is to maintain a balance between police independence and to complete investigations and maintain order without undue political influence, or influence from any other source while remaining accountable to the public. The belief that civilians do not understand what a police officer faces on a daily basis becomes the crux of most complaints made by police officers when it comes to the forming of a civilian oversight committee. Police believe that until a person walks a beat in an officer’s shoes, or accompanies an officer on a dangerous call-out, that a civilian cannot adequately pass judgment on an officer’s discretionary choice during said call-out Discretionary authority
Discretionary authority: The right to choose what action to take; permission to act. Each facet of the criminal justice system has its own level of discretionary authority. Whether or not each facet wants to acknowledge it, each facet eventually answers to the public. From a police officer writing a ticket or deciding to pursue a fleeing suspect to the probation/parole officer filing a violation of probation or parole – and the organizations in between – each facet must adhere to the policy and procedures for its own agency. Police
High-speed pursuits draw the attention of just about everybody. Not much is more exhilarating than watching the police chase down and arrest the criminals. However, this exhilaration does not come without a price tag. Whereas most pursuits end without damage, some pursuits end in severe injuries and fatalities not only to the pursued lawbreaker but also to police officers and members of the public also. With these injuries and deaths arise lawsuits against the police and governmental bodies. Occasionally, the complainant will be the lawbreaker who was trying to escape, and his assertion will be that the police should have let him go rather than pursue him. Frequently, the complainant will be a pedestrian or a third-party driver who became a victim in the pursuit. This person's assertion will be that the police should not have started the pursuit or that the police neglectfully piloted the pursuit. A debate exists relating to when police should conduct high-speed pursuits. Some believe that police should use their discretion and should not avoid a pursuit because of risk to the public. The opposite view is that by pursuing a lawbreaker, the police heighten the risk of danger to the public. For example, prior to a police chase, there is a drunk driver on the road. Once the chase begins, there is a drunk driver driving his vehicle at a high rate of speed. It is maintained that many people who flee from police are accused of a more serious offense (e.g. kidnaping, trafficking, etc.) than the offense of which the police originally suspected the person. Prosecuting attorney
In the United States, the prosecutor is perhaps the most essential decision-maker in the criminal justice procedure. The push to initiate an investigation typically stems from an accuser, and it is usually the law enforcement agency that runs the majority of investigations; but the decisions to cite a person, what to cite a person with, and what sentences ultimately to carry out are significantly swayed by the prosecutor. Numerous features of the United States criminal justice system are reliant on prosecutors' discretion. Without it, discriminating implementation of criminal laws and deviation of borderline criminals from the criminal process would be difficult, and plea bargaining could disappear. To request the elimination or a fundamental restriction...
References: Brereton, D. (2000). Evaluating the performance of external oversight bodies. In A. J. Goldsmith & C. Lewis (Eds.), Civilian Oversight of Policing: Governance, Democracy and Human Rights (pp. pp. 105-124). Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing.
Lewis, C., & Prenzler, T. (1999). Civilian oversight of police in Australia. Australian Institute of Criminology: Trends & Issues in crime and criminal justice, 141(December 1999), pp1-6.
Prenzler, T., & Lewis, C. (2007). Police Oversight Agencies: Measuring Effectiveness. In B. Head, C. Connors & A. Brown (Eds.), Promoting Integrity: Evaluating and Improving Public Integrity Institutions. London: Ashgate.
Walker, S. (1997). Complaints against the police: A focus group study of citizen perceptions, goals and expectations. Criminal Justice Review, 22(2), pp. 207-226.
Walker, S. (2006a). Alternative models of citizen oversight. In J. C. Perino (Ed.), Citizen Oversight of Law Enforcement. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association Publishing.
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