The effort to analyze and expand on existing knowledge on the decision-making behaviour of police officers has been assessed and documented in many different studies, however Bonner reveals six themes related to officer arrest decision-making and the influence of working rules that are regulated by precise frameworks. When police and citizens endure and encounter each other they meet on a social stage were the citizen’s interaction is based on their status and capability to challenge the police (Bonner 2014:494). The decision-making behaviour police engage in is ultimately determined from two different statuses.
Social status and situational status. Social status is visibly present in all police encounters (race, sex, age, soci class) and situational status is defined by the circumstances that brought about the police-citizen contact. The author defines different contributing factors that influence police officer’s decisions in making an arrest. The role of suspicion is a natural element of police work due to an enforcement of nature of law that implies officers are placed in dangerous situations where an enhanced sense of suspicion is considered necessary.
Suspicion is theoretically linked to police arrests contributing to a process where citizens get grouped in accordance to their type (Bonner 2014:499). This grouping by type stereotypes individuals and officers decision-making in terms of an arrest, which in result leaves certain groups at risk for increased arrests. Officers often refer to a set of universal rules that are used for encountering people, places and situations that are felt to be of suspicious manner. The correlation of officer decision-making and degree of injury is theoretically crucial to the influence of arrests officers make.
Victim injury serves as a red-flag for riminal seriousness where the assumption that when injury is present and arrest must be made. Age of parties involved contributes to the decision-making that police officers encounter, tending to treat encounters with youth offenders in an informal manner compared to adult offenders. Bonner addresses the theory of believability where a significant portion of evidence officers have to contemplate has to do with verbal reports from both the accused and the victim. The two stories from both parties are judged by police officers which results the belief of one story over another driving a decision to make an arrest.
The judgment of both stories is left in the hands of the police allowing them the authority to make an arrest on their assumptions of how events played out (Bonner 2014:507). The pattern of police officers relying on certain characteristics and statuses that influence a decision for arrest has grown to form a notion of victim preference. Officers tend to follow victim preferences through their social encounters with citizens based on alleged characteristic associated with common criminal activities. Officers often stereotype through a cognitive stereotype to classify citizens they encounter.
Either if officers view particular citizens as unsympathetic and undeserving, or sympathetic and deserving it is theoretically based to social and situational statuses based on the current position in society the individual occupies. The theory Bonner brings gives an understanding of the rules that r decisionmaking that provides that there is to some degree a sense of predictability in regards to how police handle situations (Bonner 2014:518). Race, social class, financial status, sex, and other visible or non-visible markers of identity are prominent in police decision making that directs officers to follow a pattern in conducting arrests.
Part 2 With every theory there is a critique that are thrown against either strengthening or breaking it down to a level where it may be considered weak. With efforts to expand the common knowledge we already know about police decision-making the author makes great emphasis on current social facts and themes that are prominent in the encounter between police and citizens upon deciding on making an arrest. When we critically assess the theory that is provided we are introduced to decision-making factors that are visibly present.
Such factors include degree of injury, age of involved parties, drug/alcohol involvement and etc. These factors of course are crucial to police officers to construct how to decide on an arrest, however, they fail to consider factors that may also be considered crucial to the decision if an arrest should take place. These factor include any history of mental illnesses or derangement, criminal records, correlation of previous involvement in crime and other social factors that are non-visible such as family life and economical status.
When factors such as these are incorporated they broaden the scope of police decision-making and have potential for police to contain a proper amount of information before they conduct an arrest. An issue that may be resulted from the theory of police basing an arrest on certain reoccurring themes can result in a form of unfair bias. When the certain themes of age and injury for say are red-flags for police to make an arrest it begins to categorize individuals and cause for police to base decisions on these factors.
Since police are expected to fulfil the societal role of protecting the public from harm it causes for the assumption that an arrest is needed to be made when encountering disputes between citizens in order for them to feel they are fulfilling their responsibility. The themes that arrests are based on Bonner mentions are first assessed by police that may result in unfair arrests as incidents such as age and believability and other themes may not be applicable to all cases thus causing a bias on how police perform arrests.
When we understand the rules that are responsible for governing police officer decision making we can make a great amount of purpose from it. We can predict the way police will respond to situations and the manner in which guidelines and frameworks are operated. However, what needs to be assessed as well is what societal or individual implications makes police suspicious towards individuals that then lead to an arrest. Part 3 Stroshine et al. examine the role of working rules that define what officers consider as suspicious people, situations, and places.
Suspiciousness has been recently identified as one of the most crucial aspects for the conjuring of police-citizen interaction (Stroshine et al. , 2008, pg. 315). What police consider as suspicious incidents is relatable to the critique of Bonner’s theory of themes that prompt officers to make arrests during citizen-encounters. They play an important role in the interactions between police and the public as it determines whether the citizen gets processed throught the criminal system.
It is brought about in the theory of suspiciousness that the importance of time and place, the importance of appearance, the importance of information, the importance of behavior are contributing factors to police approaching citizens who they believe are engaging in criminal activity. For example, the focus of individuals who seem out of place, cars who go under the speed limit, individuals hanging out in areas not dominated by their race and ethnicity are all examples of what draws police to believe suspicious activity is taking place (Stroshine et al. 2008, pg. 324).
Police disregard the fact that they are stigmatizing individuals who fit these descriptions assuming that they are involved in criminal activity. This suspiciousness then results in the police-citizen encounter that Bonner addresses where the themes that police use to decide on an arrest (age, visible injury) come into play. Differences between police decision-making and suspiciousness is that the reality of policing is different for everyone as officers often look for different things and respond to supsects and situations differently.
When we take into consideration the decisionmaking themes police use and the influence of working rules on police suspicion and discretionary decision making we see a common element. They both represent what officers tend to think or doon the street. They create their own criteria for assessing perpetraters and rely on certain social and situational statuses to assist them with deciding who in the dispute should take fault. This strongly influences what citizens are most likely to experience when they come into contact with officers.
To conclude, the concept of being suspcicious towards certin individuals and thus using decision-making factors to label an indivudal as engaging in criminal activity is an improper act. Police have a high authority in our society and hold a sense of power over citizens in their encounter. We need a better understanding of the arrest-decision process that is used by police officers to socially construct what we see as a ‘criminal. Stroshine et al. , contributes the act of what police characterize as suspicious behavior to Bonner’s theory of police decisionmaking