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American Academy of Political and Social Science

Controlling Street-Level Police Discretion Author(s): Stephen D. Mastrofski Source: Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 593, To Better Serve and Protect: Improving Police Practices (May, 2004), pp. 100-118 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. in association with the American Academy of Political and Social Science Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4127669 . Accessed: 09/04/2013 02:58
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Controlling

Street-Level Police Discretion

The Committee to Review Research on Police Policy and Practices' Fairness and Effectiveness in Policing: The Evidence provides a review of research on the causes of street-level police behavior, but the report offers little insight into how to control that discretion effectively. This is not due to deficiencies in the report but rather to limitations of the available research. This article discusses four problems with that research: underdeveloped theory,weak research designs, insufficient generalizabilityof findings, and inattention to the kinds of police discretion that really matter to policy makers, practitioners,and the public. The article gives special attention to the last problem and makes recommendations for improving the quality of research to better informchoices about how to control police streetlevel discretion. Keywords: police; discretion;performanceevaluation

Any By
STEPHEN D. MASTROFSKI

comprehensive assessment of what


accomplish must account for the

actions of personnel at the lowest rungsof the ladder-the rank-and-file police organizational officersand civiliansin whom most of the organization's resourcesare invested.Police leaders and other public officials have long been obsessedwith exercisinga substantial degree of influence, if not control, over how policing is
Stephen D. Mastrofskiis a professorof public and international affairs at George Mason University,where he directs the Administration of Justice Program and the Center for Justice Leadership and Management. He received his doctorate in political sciencefrom the University of North Carolinaat Chapel Hill and has served on thefaculty at the Pennsylvania State Universityand Michigan State University. His research interests include measuring police performance and assessing police reforms.Recentpublicationsincludestudies ofthe public'simage of the police, police disrespecttoward the public, evaluations of community policing and Compstat, and the "romanceof police leadership."He served as a member of the Committee to Review Researchon Police Policy and Practices,National Academy of Sciences. In 2000, he received the Academy of CriminalJustice Science'sO. W Wilson Awardfor outstanding contributions to police education, research, and practice.
DOI: 10.1177/0002716203262584

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there is greatconcernabouthow to elimipracticedat the street level. Currently, nate racialbias in police enforcement,how to get officersto engage in more and higherqualitycommunitypolicingandproblemsolving,andhow to get officersto makearrestswhen the lawdemandsit (drunkdrivinganddomesticviolence). But readersof the NationalAcademies' volumeon policepracticeswho arelookingfor to control street-levelpolice discretionmore effectivelywill surelybe disapways because the reportin general,and chapters4 and 5 in particular, simply pointed sheds little lighton this issue (Committeeto ReviewResearch2003). The authors of the reportdo not bear the responsibility for this. The faultlies with the body of researchavailable for review,which providesscantinsightinto the consequences of different methods by which street-level police discretion (hereafter called with "street-level" controlled. inferred)mightbe purposively "policediscretion," The purposeof this articleis to outlinethe majordeficienciesof the existingbody of research, focusing especially on one, and to suggest ways in which these problemsmightbe overcome.

An Overview of the Problems with Extant Research


Beforediscussing the challengesconfronting us,we need to be clearaboutsome terms,and we need to establishthe limitsof the domainunderconsideration. By discretion,I mean the leewaythat officersenjoyin selectingfrom more than one choice in carrying out theirwork.I use controlin the samewayas the report.That I mean for it to cover a rangeof influenceoverdiscretionextendingfromlittleto is, on the controlof patrol absolute.Aswiththe report,mycommentswillconcentrate officerdiscretion,where most of the available researchis concentrated. Readersof chapters4 and5 will be struckby how inconclusivemostof the committee'sfindingsare. By far the most common conclusionis that the committee there is cannotdrawa conclusion,because one or more of the followingpertains: not enoughresearchon the topic,the available is not sufficiently research rigorous, or the resultsare too mixedto providea conclusivepattern.In this section,I idenof the article,I concentifyfour reasonsfor these problems,but in the remainder trateon the lastof them, the irrelevance of manyof the measuresof discretionthat have been used in police research.I arguethat attentionto this issue is the first orderof businessfor those hopingto develop a body of researchthat answersthe question,"Howcan we better controlthe discretionof the police?" Theory takes a holiday The philosopherGeorge Santayana (1955) noted, "Theory helps us to bearour where evidence is lacking, ignoranceof fact."Theorynot only "fillsin the blanks" bits of evidence but it alsoallowsus to makesense of those many,often-conflicting that we do possess. Unfortunately, most extant researchon police discretionis

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useful to or uses theoriesthat are only tangentially underdevelopedtheoretically those who wish to know how better to control police discretion.Consider,for in the exerracialdiscrimination example,the questionof howto avoidundesirable cise of police authority, one of the most discussedpolice policy questionsof our time. The committee's reviewof morethanthirtystudieson thistopicled it to conclude that the mixedresultsaboutthe impactof racewere due to the contingent natureof effects. Researchfailsto takeinto accountrelevantfeaturesof the policy andsocialenvironments in whichofficersoperate.I wouldaddthatforresultsto be for our meaningful purpose,the researchneeds to be framedin theoriesof control of police discretion(Punch 1983). Such theoriesmustacknowledge that manyforcesvie for controlof officerdiscretion:notjustthe formalhierarchy but alsootherforces of the police department within and outside the organization. and Police unions,civil rightsorganizations, in the struggle more recently,the federaljustice systemhave figuredprominently over what to do about allegationsof police racial discrimination,yet studies attemptingto assessthe influenceof the citizen'srace on police discretiondo not take these important their results. variablesinto accountin explaining Efforts to exert control can take different forms. For example, some police chiefs may stress the disciplinary consequences of racial discrimination 2002), while othersmayemphasizestrategies (Mastrofski, Reisig,and McCluskey of officer recruitmentand training,and others still may structurepatrol work so thatofficersfosterbetter relationswith (throughpermanentbeat assignments) of racial neighborhoods,regardless composition. Or, for example, one might thatfrethat the of hypothesize organizations presence activeneighborhood-level on effects racethe have stronger quentlyengage police at the street level would from comes cenrelatedpolice practicesthanwould the top-downapproach that the and tralizedcivilianreviewboards.The formeris largelypreventive police-citizen interactionsare more frequent,varied,and diffuse (i.e., they work through while the latter is correctiveand relies upon establishingpositive relationships), formalprocessesto focus in a legalisticwayon specificcases, the ultimatemechato prevent nisms of control being deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation racistpolice practices. To make sense of the varietyof discretion-control mechanisms,we need to discussionin enrichourconceptualization of them.The currentstateof theoretical studies of police behaviorhas not advancedmuch beyond clusteringsources of influenceinto a few categories,such as situational features,officercharacteristics, characteristics environmental and (Sherman1980; characteristics, organizational Riksheimand Chermak1993). The frequentlyrepeated findingthat situational considerationsdominate the choices that patrol officers make (Committee to ReviewResearch2003, 4-9) hardlyconstitutesa usefulinsightforpolicypurposes. It alsoundoubtedly healthcareprofessionholdsfor the choices madeby lawyers, are social officers Patrol and als, educators, workers, expected to exercise clergy. discretion precisely because coping with "situational exigencies"is the raison of the the police (Bittner1970). Barring replacementof patrolofficerswith d'etre the overwhelminginfluence of situationalfactorswill programmed"robocops,"

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continue. Shifts or variationsin patternsof influence on police discretion(e.g., a changeovertime fromraceeffects to no-raceeffects in ajurisdiction) comparing shouldbe the objectof explanation ratherthanjust measursoughtby researchers, the relative of versus those associatedwith ing strength situationalinfluences officerand organization characteristics.

The police subculturefigures largely in discussions of policing, but as the committee indicates, it is seldom treated by researchers in a theoreticallyinteresting way.

Buildingusefultheoriesof discretioncontrolcan drawon a wide rangeof discion police reformitself,some of whichsets forthpreplinesandfromthe literature on how best to controlthe police. The processmightbegin by considerscriptions ing who attempts to influence police discretion and then inventoryingthe mechanisms of influenceavailable. A usefulwayto framethe fieldof playerscomes fromCyertand March(1963, 27-32), who see organizational goalsettingandcontrol as workedout throughnegotiationamongcompetinggroups,at least some of whom establisha "dominant coalition." The advantageof this approachis that it does not assumethatthere is a singular, determinedleadershipthat hierarchically sets goalsbut thatthere maybe manygroupsof playerswithinthe organizationdrawnfrommiddlemanagers, and labor-who seek accommodation supervisors, of theirinterestsandwho mayenlist or themselvesbe influencedby outsideplayers seekinginfluenceover policing.And it allowsfor the possibilityof "organized where the distributionof power is in flux or no dominant coalition anarchy," emerges, creatingambiguityfor street-level decision makers,a condition quite common to public organizations such as the police (Cohen, March,and Olsen Scott the playersandthe degreeof consensusor 1976; 1992,297). Comprehending relevant to a of anarchy given type police discretionis the firststep towardcreata realistic framework for modeling the effectiveness of systems intended to ing controlit. Control systems in police organizationsseek to channel efforts toward the establishstructures of goals and interests.Formalorganizations accomplishment and so on (centralization, rules),incentivesand sanctions,supervision, hierarchy, members.Thisrational to coordinate andcontrolthe activities of the organization's consequences approachattemptsto manipulate people'sbehaviorby distributing thatmatterto membersof the organization, such as careeradvancement, recogni-

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is completelysuccessfulin tion, materialreward,and status.But no organization this regard,and indeed, police organizations find controlof this sorthighlyprobwhat lematicbecausethe organizations are limitedin theircapacityto manipulate employees reallycare about, and the systemsof controlthemselvesare cumbersome, elaborate,conflicting,and often (as a consequence)only looselyconnected to the day-to-day worldof the decisionmakers whoseactivities they areintendedto direct (Crankand Langworthy and Ritti 1992). 1992; Scott 1992, 315; Mastrofski them to "forget tell once the veterans hit the rookies street, Understandably, police what you learned in the academy" and "throwawaythe rule book"(Rubinstein is sometimes environment 1973;VanMaanen1974).The resultingorganizational called a "punitivebureaucracy," one more effective at extinguishingundesired hassome support behavior desiredones. Thisproposition patternsthanpromoting in the smallbody of researchreviewedby the committee that shows that formal rules and guidelines and strong disciplinary practicesappearto reduce the frewith which to or corruptpractices(Committeeto resort lethal force quency police Review Research2003, 157-58,272-73, 285). To promote desired behaviors,it has become increasingly popularin police texts and advocate reformers to management exerting control through among rather than the raw to legitimacy consequencesforthe officers. power manipulate Thisis sometimescalled"transformational becausethe officer'scomleadership," from a quid pro quo derives from rather than a transformation pliance personal transaction of compliancein exchangefor somethingof value (Bass 1985). Police areencouragedto persuadeofficersto embracecertaingoalsandvalues managers not becausedoingso willproducedesirable personalconsequences,or failingto do so will producenegativeones, but because doing so is simplyrightand properor the best way.This is, for example,the assumptionof reformerswho argue that community policingcanbe implementedeffectivelyonlywhen officersembraceit as a "philosophy"(Sparrow, Moore, and Kennedy 1990; Trojanowicz and andproposalsaboutspecificwaysfor leadersto 1990).This approach Bucqueroux Moore,and 1982,chap.9; Sparrow, accomplishit (see, e.g., PetersandWaterman Kennedy 1990, chap. 5) date back at least as far as Selznick(1957), but there is little empiricalresearchthat tests whether and when it is effective in remarkably police organizations. Anotherorganizational element to consideris the police culture,"the shared internalizedbeliefs and normsthat providemeaningand guidanceto individual membersengaged in collective action"(Scott 1992, 315). The police subculture figureslargelyin discussionsof policing,but as the committeeindicates(Commitin a theotee to ReviewResearch2003, 130-33),it is seldomtreatedby researchers of mechanism a defense as It is reticallyinterestingway. widely regarded only street-levelofficerscopingwith pressuresfrom managementand environmental threats(e.g., a hostile public)-a monolithicobstacleto management's abilityto accountthe the to hold and govern organization organization society'scapacity of the able.Interestingly, is often "the culture" target bureauoverwhelming police cratic approaches to create consequences for the officers, while the transformational leadershipapproachseeks to shift this culture from hostilityto

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valuesandgoals.But embrace)of management's receptiveness(if not enthusiastic the cultureis not assessedas an independentinfluenceon the exerciseof discretion.Alternatively, culif one beginswiththe assumption thata police organization tureis an independentvariableovertime andplace,not a constant,then richtheoretical possibilities emerge from considering the impact of variation in an culture's organizational strengthand complexity--andthe impactof variousmanAn agementstrategiesfor controlof discretionin differentculturalenvironments. et al. (2000), who developed a exampleof this approachis offered by Klockars method to measurethe orientationof officersto tolerateabuse of authorityand corruption amongtheircolleagues.One mightpresumethatthe effectsof management interventionsto reduce abusive police practiceswould vary considerably between an organization not to toleratethose with a strongcultural predisposition practicescomparedwith one thatwas far more tolerant. The taskof empirically sortingout the effects of differentmodes of discretion controlwill be challengingforpolice researchers. Despite claimsof organizational sea changes,andparadigm do not produce revolutions, shifts,police departments radical for and it a is change to pure discretion-control certainly rarity systems, occur in a shorttime period.This means that researchersmust deal mostlywith hybridcontrol systems,where one layer of reformis laid atop the structuresof other, older reforms.And some control interventionsthemselves are complex, containinga varietyof components.And sometimeseven these componentsconflict,suchaswhentheydemanda highdegreeof individual accountability manager for producingresultsand for collaboration and and teamwork(Willis,Mastrofski, Weisburd to knowhowthe differentcomponentsof 2003).Thismakesit important a controlintervention worked(ordid not work)togetherto producea givenresult. in New York Compstat City is a good exampleof this problem.This management with a so-calledbrokenwas implementedsimultaneously accountability program and it is hardto windowsor zero-toleranceapproachto policingneighborhoods, tease out how mucheach contributed to the increasein the enforcementof minor offenses in the city (Eck and Maguire2000, 231). Effortswithin the organization to exert controlover police discretiondo not occurin isolationfromlargerenvironmental influences,a point carefullystressed of environ5 of the A committee's by chapter report. popularconceptualization mentalinfluencesis thatthey have theirgreatesteffect on police discretionworkfeatures,such as the goals and desires of the police ing throughorganizational and ultiwhich in turn affect the chief, policies and structuresof the organization out its officers' The matelypatterns reportpoints a variety practices(Wilson1968). of environmentalentry points of influence: neighborhoodcharacteristics, city the actionsof localpoliticalofficials,appellatecourtrulings,andso characteristics, on. However,to advancebeyondthe mere listingof hypothesizedeffects of these influence, we need at least two kindsof theoretical categoriesof environmental conditions developments.First,we need theoriesthat specifythe environmental when internalorganizational control systemswill be more and less successfulin shapingofficer discretion.For example,is it in fact the case that criticalevents (e.g., scandalsor riots) make it possible to implementformalpolicies that shape

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discretionin desiredways,as some havearguedfor use of lethalforceand corruption (Sherman1978, 1983)?If so, what sort of controlsystemsare most effective, and how long do they retaintheir effectivenessfollowingthe criticalevent? Secof the processesthroughwhichenvironmental ond, we need greaterspecification forces are presumedto shape officer discretion-whether they operate through For example,how does a new appelmechanismsor independently. organization workits way,if latecourtrulingaboutwhatis permissiblein police stop-and-search at all, into the dailypracticesof patrolofficers?Some influence may be exerted andsome maycome through efforts(guidelinesandtraining), throughdepartment officers' exposure to the way that members of the local criminal"courtroom workgroup" respond(Eisensteinand Jacob1977). Weakinternal validity The reportmakesclearthat mostof the researchon the causesof police behavior is based on correlationalstudies of variationsin police practice from one encounter, officer, department,or neighborhoodto another.The randomized in the reportexaminethe effects of the police, not the experimentssummarized effects of anything on the police. In most of these cases, causalinferenceis problematic.For example,in studiesthat showthatcollege-educatedofficersperform the conbetterthanthosewithouta college education,we areunableto distinguish effects the selection from in tributions of the actualeducational experience college of gettingintocollege andcompletingit. Thisis notjust anacademicissue,because if there is little "valueadded"for the qualityof police workby a college education, then a tremendousamountof effort is being expended on somethingthat gives poor returnfor the investment.Withouta doubt, the qualityof evidence on this and most other issues of discretioncontrolwould be enhanced by studies with strongerdesignsfor makingcausalinferences.While ethics andlimitedresources preclude manycases from the randomassignmentrequiredby an experimental and more carefullyconstructedstatisticalcontrols in design, quasi-experiments correlational studieswould do a lot to strengthenour confidencein the resultsof studies assessingthe effects of variouswaysto controlpolice discretion. Limited external validity Some verygood studieshavebeen conductedthatassessthe impactof controls on police discretion,but they appear like little islands scattered across a vast, unchartedarchipelagoof police agencies. And we police researchers,with too muchregularity, insiston returning to the sameislandstime andagainto assessthe state of police discretion. It is as if we had visited Hawaii and, from our visit, declaredthatwe knowthe natureof the whole SouthPacific.In technicalterms, the extantresearchhas a generalizability problem. One aspect of the generalizability problemis that we do not have a large and diversestorehouseof comparable studiesconductedat differenttimes andplaces

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so that we can say with confidencejust how universalcertain findingsare. For of police fieldobservations example,the threelargestmultijurisdiction, systematic et al. 1998) included only twentypatrol(Reiss 1971; Caldwell1978; Mastrofski nine differentjurisdictions overthe period 1966to 1996,andonlyone department compariappearedin morethanone study,makingit difficultto makemeaningful sonsovertime. Even amongthese studies,whichuse similardata-collection methare sufficientlydivergent instruments ods, the samplingplansand data-collection to makecomparative secondaryresearchacrossstudieschallenging.The Spouse Abuse ReplicationProject (SARP)was an effort to rectify the generalizability domesticvioproblemfollowingthe groundbreaking findingsof the Minneapolis lence study(Sherman1992). SARPbroughttogetherresearchteams in different

Researchersmight strive harder to work in agencies that are experiencingproblems with police discretion.

featuresin comthatall maintain certaindesignandmeasurement cities,requiring mon so that cross-site comparisonsand secondaryresearchwould be possible (Maxwell,Garner,and Fagan 2001). The same practice should be followed in researchon the control of police discretion.Funding agencies should promote multisiteresearchthat introducestheoreticallymeaningfulvariationacrosssites andthatinsistsupondesignanddata-collection featuresthatensurecomparability of findings. The extantresearchon policediscretionis biasedin a numberof waysregarding the types of agenciesthat are included.The vast majority of studiesfocus on relasmallurbandeparttivelylargemunicipal police forces,leavingmostlyunexplored ruralagencies,specialpolice agencies,andlargebut ments,sheriffs departments, geographically dispersedstate police agencies.There are reasonsto expect some differentpatternsin the exerciseof policediscretionfromthe usuallystudiedagenthe possibilityof new insightsaboutwhatinflucies, thus undoubtedlyrestricting ences police discretion under what circumstances.And perhaps most telling, except for the occasionalresearchcompelledby legal process, researchon police discretiontends to occur at the more progressiveagenciesthat have less discomfort in exposingthemselvesto scrutinyby outsiders(Fyfe 2002). Departmentsin crisisand those thatperpetually experienceproblemsin the controlof police disin suchstudies.This cretionwouldseem, understandably, lesswillingto participate it is sometimesthe Of overstate the of however. the course, may severity problem,

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case that departmentsin crisis are most susceptible to requests to be studied because their leaders,particularly if recentlybroughtin to "cleanup the mess," have less to lose and a lot to gain by learningwhat is happening. resultsin departThosewho fundstudiesareoften moreinterestedin featuring ments thoughtto lead the field ratherthan those that are or mightbe in trouble. deprivespolicymakers Alwaysstudyingthe best or mostprogressive departments of useful informationon strugglingdepartmentswhere there are much better furtherfromthe "ceiling." sincetheyarepresumably prospectsforimprovement, Thisis not aneasychallengeto overcome,but researchers mightstriveharderto workin agenciesthat are experiencingproblemswith police discretion.Agencies that fund police researchand evaluationmight do more to offer incentives for discretion-control agenciesexperiencing problemsto obtainqualityexternalevaluations.In some cases,courtsandreformpoliticalleadersmayrequireor welcome if the mayagreeto participate objectiveresearch,andin othercases, departments a central advocate Some remains in masked agency'sidentity publishedreports. abouthow police governmentmandatefor the collectionof sensitiveinformation exercise discretion (Fyfe 2002). And finally,another approachis to avoid stiff departmentalresistance by attempting to build professionalpressure among in standardized to participate reportingof certain police organizations voluntarily of of force. such as use aspects police discretion, Irrelevanceof measuresof police practice Throughoutchapters4 and5 of the report,the committeebemoansthe lackof concernaddressesthe good measuresof police practice.Muchof the committee's limited of range of police discretiontendency researchersto focus on a very and arrest other forms of enforcementand coercion-while ignoringthe many other thingsthatpolice do (assist,persuade,advise,mediate,mobilizepeople and organizations, analyze problems, gather and disseminateinformation;Maguire 2003). This is a legitimatecriticismof the extantresearch,but even if researchers were to studyvigorously allof these aspectsof police practice,the resultingbodyof knowledgewouldbe woefullyinadequateforour purposesunlessthose attributes of police practicedescribedfeaturesthat are worthcontrolling.For example,the whatcausespolice to fairlysubstantial bodyof researchthatattemptsto illuminate make an arresttells us absolutelynothingabout what causes the police to make arreststhat we want them to make.To use my own researchas an example,colofficerswho embracedcommuleaguesand I haveshownthatin one department, to arrest values were inclined less nity policing suspects than were officerswho were less positiveaboutcommunity other thingsbeing equal(Mastrofski, policing, tellsus somethingaboutthe impact Worden,andSnipes1995).Whilethiscertainly of communitypolicingon officers'lawenforcementtendencies,it does nothingto help the chief of this departmentdecide whether this pattern is a good thing. Unlessone takesthe mindlesspositionthatmore (or fewer)arrestsarealwayspreferred, one finds that our research,and the literaturegenerally,does not tell us what causes police to make arreststhat we want them to make and what causes

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them to makearreststhatwe do not wantthem to make.The same can be saidof the practice of field interrogationsand other police-initiatedstops of citizens, searches, interrogations,and a wide range of physicallyand verballycoercive but not methods,all of whichare legitimateand usefulundersome circumstances others. And, of course, the same holds for the varietyof other seldom-studied practices,such as mediation,that police performwith a high degree of personal discretion. All this is to saythat our measuresof police discretionare, by and large,free of standards thatwouldallowus to judge the qualityof those choices.Withoutincorinto our studyof police discretion,we can saylittle thatis poratingsuch standards helpfulto the police, publicofficials,andthe publicitselfin assessingwhatis andis not effective in controlling what mattersmost in the exerciseof police discretion. The remainder of this articlewill elaboratethe challengesof definingand measuring those aspectsof police discretionthatwe wish to controland will makesome suggestionsabouthow to meet these challenges.

MeasuringWhat Matters in Controlling Police Discretion


A few yearsago, the NationalInstituteof Justiceand the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services convened a series of meetings of distinguished on howto researchers andscholars, thinking police leaders,andothersto revitalize measurepolice performance. A volume,MeasuringWhatMatters,was produced withfifteenessaysthatofferedsome interestingobservations andprovocative proabout what should be how measured and 1999). Measuring posals (Langworthy the police capacityto controlcrime, fear of crime, and stem disorderconsumed most of the volume'spages,and the book also gaveconsiderableattentionto what police constituenciesexpected.Withone exception,no attentionwaspaidto meaomissionbecause the suringpolice discretionandits control.This is a remarkable public appearsto care a greatdeal aboutcontrolling police discretion.TomTyler and colleagueshave shownin a series of importantstudiesthat the publiccares a greatdeal aboutthe processesof policing-at least as much,if not more,thanthe outcomesthose processesproduce(e.g., Tyler2001;Tylerand Huo 2002). Thatis to say,theycarehow the policeexercisetheirdiscretion.Policeorganizations rarely experiencecrisesforfailingto controlcrime;it is failureto controlpolice discretion that most often places the jobs of top leadershipin jeopardy(especiallyabuse of force, corruption,and neglectfulserviceprovision).The followingsection of the articleis the beginningof an attemptto fill that lacuna. "What do police do, Strictlyacademicresearchcan be satisfiedwith answering, andwhatexplains in whatthey do?"However,researchon controlof the variations do we want police to police requiresanswersto a differentset of questions:"What in howwell they do it?"Whereasthe firstset of do, andwhataccountsforvariation questions requires only astute observation(Bittner 1970), the latter set also

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requires conscious engagement with norms about what police should be accomplishing. There aretwowaysto justifynorms:(1) becausethe practiceis believedto have to accomplishinherentvalueand(2) becausethe practiceis believedinstrumental ing somethingthathasvalue.Anexampleof the firstis the claimthatpolice searchand-seizurepracticesshouldconformto constitutional requirementsfor the protection of civil liberties;in a democracysuch as ours, there is inherentvalue in a An exampleof the second is the claimthatthe police who followthe Constitution. more drugdealerswho are stopped and searchedin areasplaguedby street-level should whichultimately the greaterthe disruption of those markets, drugmarkets, make the area less attractiveto drug dealers, thus decreasingdrug crime and less fetteredby the qualityof life. Obviously, a style of stop-and-search improving their standards can be but then more officers, legal superiors,or highdisruptive, twoconflicting between makers tension must the decide how reconcile to up policy values.In recent research,a colleagueand I foundthatin one police department, officerschose to conductsearchesthatviolatedthe suspect'sconstitutional rights in three of everyten searches,and thatsearchesto finddrugswere the mostlikely to violate constitutionalstandards(Gould and Mastrofskiforthcoming).Our researchwasnot designedto measurethe extentto whichthese impropersearches reducedcrime, but we were able to providea roughindicationof the cost to citiwith zens'constitutionally protectedliberties.This,at least,providespolicymakers some measureof the civillibertiescost paidto acquireat leastthe prospectof some (unknown)incrementof crime control. One can readilyenvisiona set of valuesaboutsome aspectsof police authority that mightbe carefullymeasured.Supposethat a department placed a high value on its officers'followingthe law closely in makingarrestsfor feloniesand misdemeanors,the classic "legalistic" department(Wilson 1968). That is, the department wantsofficersin these cases to makean arrestwhenever,but only if, the evidentiaryrequirementof probablecause is satisfied-what is sometimescalled a "fullenforcement" policy.Under these conditions,the officer can producethree outcomes:anarrestthatisjustifiedby the evidence,anarrestthatis notjustifiedby the evidence, and a failureto arrestwhen the evidencejustifiesit. Field observationsof police suggestthatundernormaloperatingconditions,police do not come anywherenear full enforcement,even with felonies and serious misdemeanors present,asking (e.g., drunkdriving)and even when there is a willingcomplainant the police to makean arrest(Mastrofski et al. 2000). Rather, they tend to erron the side of underenforcement (Black1980, 91; Brown1981;Reiss 1971, 134). studies of Despite many police arrest,researchersknow relativelylittle about the extentof enforcement"error," its patterns,and the thingsthatinfluencethose and both the extentandthe natureof the errorsof patterns.Measuring explaining overenforcementand underenforcement in a given sample of police encounters whetheran arrest with suspectswould be far more useful than simplymeasuring was made.Indeed, it is selectivityin leniencythatdoubtlesslymosttroublesthose who charge the police with racialprofilingor with neglect of a neighborhood orches(Dilulio 1993, 3; Kennedy1997). When such selectivityis hierarchically

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trated,such as the zero-tolerancepolicy that seeks maximumenforcementof all lawsin certainneighborhoods while othersexperiencefarmoreselectiveenforcement, antagonistic police-communityrelationsalso tend to ensue on a selective basis (Scheingold1999, 186). One can also envision an evaluationof police arreststhat took into account instrumentalexpectations,such as reducingthe likelihoodof future offending. Afterdiscussingevidencethatviolentdomesticabusersare affecteddifferently by arrest,dependingupon such things as employmentstatus,Sherman(1992, 186) suggestedthat the most effective domesticviolence reductionstrategymight be

There are two ways tojustify norms: (1) because the practice is believed to have inherent value and (2) because the practice is believed instrumentalto accomplishing something that has value.

to officersthe discretionto makeor not to makethese arrestsandofferreturning ing them guidelinesbased on the latest scientificevidence to makethose choices. comthatthe evidencewassufficiently soundandthe resultssufficiently Assuming wish to to such would a a chief conscientious certainly pelling justify policy, police monitorthe extentto whichofficerswere complying withguidelinesaboutthe factors to be taken into account--or at least to determinewhich factorswere most influential,so as to monitorfor potentialabuseof discretion.A systemof measuring police discretionthattookthese factorsinto accountwouldenable researchers to providepolice management of the extentto with a muchbetter understanding which street-leveldomestic violence enforcementpracticeswere conformingto departmentexpectations,and embedded in the properevaluationdesign framework,the impactof training,supervision,and other controleffortscould also be assessed. Of course, legal standards for takingenforcementactionsare amongthe most elaborated,and that is also where empiricalresearchon the consequence of the police actionis alsomostdeveloped.Canwe measurethe meritsof police actionin other,less legallystructured domains?The answer,I think,is clearly discretionary yes. Let us considera couple of the more challengingaspectsof discretion. Supposethat a departmenttakesto heartthe findingby Tylerand Huo (2002) thatwhen police treatthe publicwith respectand give them a sense that they are

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before acting,givingcititryingto act fairly(by,for example,seekinginformation zens the opportunity to citizenswhat to tell their sides of the story,and explaining the officer is doing and why), citizens accordthe police greaterlegitimacy.Inasmuch as legitimacyis a criticalprerequisiteof effective democraticgovernance, such a findingindicatesthat there are profoundimplicationsfor how police do whatevertheydo (arrest,search,use force,mediatedisputes,or renderotherassistance).The lawdoes not demandthatofficersactwith a certainstyleor demeanor, but the communitypolicingmovementmayhave increasedamongthe publicthe expectationthat police will do whateverthey do in a fair and respectfulmanner. whatmattersthen wouldrequirea meansto monitorthiscrucialaspect Measuring of police discretion.Mostof the researchthatundergirds this perspectivefocuses on generaldescriptionsof judgmentsmade by the public ratherthan on specific police actionsor failuresto act. For example,surveysaskcitizensto judgewhether the officer treated them politely,whether the citizen understoodwhy he or she made decisions,andwhetherhe or she was basically honest (Tylerand Huo 2002, 152). Focusinginsteadon the actionstakenby the officerswould clearlybe more useful to police since they are in direct control of their own actionsand not the a model for such measuresis judgments others make about them. Fortunately, availablein a researchreportbased upon expensive,systematicfield observation (McCluskey2003, 122), but researchersmight also obtain this informationby debriefingmembers of the public or officers about their encounterswith each other. Moststudiesof street-leveldiscretionhaveexamined whatofficersdo once they have been mobilizedto engage in a face-to-faceencounterwith the public. An entireclassof police discretionthathasonlyrecentlybeen givenmuchattentionby researchers is how,when, andwhereofficerschoose to mobilize.Mostof thiseffort has focused on racialprofiling,but the domainis much broaderthan that. Let us focus againon one of the strategiesthatthe committeeidentifiedas havingstrong evidence of effectiveness:hot-spots policing (Committee to Review Research 2003, 249). This involves concentratingpolice surveillanceand enforcement efforts at a particularlocation that is "hot"with undesirableactivity(e.g., drug dealing). The Twomodelsexistfor hot-spotspolicing:low discretionandhigh discretion. of which low-discretion the designation modelassignsto the supervisory hierarchy fordirected hot spotsrequirethe officers'attention,andit holdsthem accountable patrolor enforcementeffortsin thatarea.In some instances,the level of discretion affordedthe rankand file may still be substantial, with managementspecifying onlythatofficerslog a prescribedamountof time in the hot spotwithoutspecifying what they must do there (ShermanandWeisburd1995, 634). But some management policies are more restrictive,specifyingin additionthe sort of tacticsto be in the hot spot (Willis,Mastrofski, undertaken andWeisburd 2003, 103).Attempts to limit officerdiscretionin these wayshave met with considerablerank-and-file resistance (Buerger, personal communication, 2003; Willis, Mastrofski,and Weisburd2003). Under the specialcircumstances of the scrutinyaffordedby the use of field observersat the hot spots, researchers have reporteda high degree of

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conformanceto experimental protocolsfor directedpatrolof hot spots (Sherman and Weisburd1995, 638), but the protocolsspecified only time present and not officertacticswhile present.Thatcompliancewouldbe so highwithoutthe added scrutinyseems doubtful,especiallywhen largeportionsof the rankand file object to it. In addition,when a departmentmakesdirectedpatrola high priority, even to some middlemanagerssubvertthe systemby instructing record officers patrol of the all enforcementactivitiesas the consequenceof directedpatrol,regardless a situation(Willis,Mastrofski, and Weisburd2003, 28), thereby communicating degree of cynicism about directed patrol from the departmenthierarchyitself. Thus, even in low-discretion programs, implementation compliance is problematicand far fromcertain. The high-discretion to hot-spotspolicingapproximates problem-oriapproach ented policing. Here, officers are given discretionto identifyhot spots on their beats, to study the situation,to devise the most effective solution,and to implementit astheythinkbest (Committeeto ReviewResearch 2003, 243). The low-discretion model of hot-spotspolicingis easier to evaluatesince managementprovides more constraints that serve as standards againstwhich to judge an officer's activities (self-reported, based on department records, or independently observed).It is also possible, however,to measurethe extent and natureof the effort.ColleaguesandI havemeasuredthe quanhigh-discretion problem-solving of effort terms of time expended)using systematicfield (in tity problem-solving observation(DeJong, Mastrofski, and Parks2001). The greater challenge is to determinethe qualityof these efforts.One mightattemptto makesummary judgmentsaboutthe thoroughness, andso on thatcharscientificrigor, thoughtfulness, acterizea given problem-solving effort (Bragaand Weisburd2002), but one also wish to break down this further to determinehow much problem-solving might time wasdevotedto identifying the problem,analyzing it, planninganintervention the it and strategy,conducting evaluating (assumingthat one uses the strategy, As SARA[Scanning,Analysis,Response,and Assessment]model as a standard). offiwell desire become more unusual or problems might managers obstreperous, cers to spend more time on the early stages of problem analysisand planning. Given the enormousresourcesgiven to promotingproblem-oriented policingin the lastdecade,it is disappointing thatso littlehasbeen done to developsystematic measurementof this new formof discretion. One cannotoveremphasize the importanceof doing more to measurethe discretion exercisedby street-levelpolice officers in deciding when and where to mobilizeto do something.A colleague and I found that contraryto the received wisdom (but consistentwith a fair amount of empiricalresearchthat has been drivenby 911 andthe callsignored),American policepatrolis not overwhelmingly for-serviceapparatus and Parks2003). Police officers spend most of (Mastrofski theirworktime free to decide when andwhere to mobilizeandwhatto do. In two medium-sizedurbanpolice departmentsin the late 1990s, we found that patrol officerstypically of theirtime engagedin activitiesthatneither spentthree-fourths a dispatchernor superiorofficerinstructedthem to do. And of thattime spent on officer-selected activities,only 15 to 16 percentwas spenton face-to-faceencoun-

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ters with the public. Generalpatrol,administrative activities,and personalbreaks accountedforthe majority of the officer's self-directedtime. If manydepartments takethe committee's and seriously attemptto move towardmore focused findings strategiesof police intervention,they will need to develop much more sophisticated measuresof how,where, and when officersare mobilizingat their own discretion-regardless of the scope of discretiontheygiveofficersin selectingtargets and modesof intervention. theirpatroloperaIf police leadersbeginto reorganize to monitions aroundhot-spots-focused be it will especiallyimportant strategies, to or with what tor systematically time their where officers doing precisely spend whom. Giventhe pinpointrequirementsof hot-spotspolicing,a block may make all the differencein the effectivenessof the intervention.

If communitypolicing efforts have accomplishedanything, they have shown that it is possible to establish a useful give-andtake between police and community that is designed to identify and solve problems.

Thus far, I have argued that it is both paramountand possible to measure aspectsof police discretionthat reallymatterto those who wantto controlit. But the partieswishingto controlpolice discretionare many,and theirvaluesand prioritiesare undoubtedly varied.Considerreactionsto the Louimaand Diallo useof-force cases in New YorkCity.At least three distinctperspectivesemerged on whatmatters: reprepolice management, police officersandcollectivebargaining and of sentatives, spokespersons minorityracialand ethnic groupswho felt their Each group memberswere at special riskfor police abuse of coercive authority. and have should the a view of much discretion different how officers groupbrings how to define well-executeddiscretion. How can one proceedto measurewhatmatterswhen the perspectivesdifferso thisquestionis of coursea politicalenterprise,but it is possistrikingly? Answering ble for scientiststo bothhelp andbenefitby participating. First,police researchers of the variousgroups-for can help to facilitatea dialogueamongrepresentatives whatcommon the purposeof seekingclarification of differencesand establishing ground,if any exists.Conductedwithoutcare, such sessionscan degenerateinto withthe others, its frustrations mere"gripe whereeach grouparticulates sessions," such as the communityrelationssessionrecountedby Wilson(1983, 108) where a

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disgruntledcitizen asked a beleagueredsergeant,"Whyyou cats alwayskicking cats' asses?"Yetif communitypolicing effortshave accomplishedanything,they haveshownthatit is possibleto establisha usefulgive-and-take betweenpoliceand when the police that is even to solve community designed identifyand problems, and communities come together initially without mutual warmth and trust (DuBoisandHartnett2002;Forman2003;Lurigioand Skogan1998).Second,the of differencesand comproductof that dialoguecan providea clear topography mon ground in what should be measuredin police discretion.And, obviously, researchers canplaya centralrolein designingspecificmeasuresandmethodsthat can speakto the full rangeof perspectivesbearingon the controlof police discretion. Providing a morediverseandcomprehensive set of measureswill do moreto informthe politicaland policydialogueaboutwhetherand how to controlofficer discretion.

Conclusion
Readers of Fairnessand Effectivenessin Policing:The Evidencewill readily observethat the reporthas a lot to say aboutthe importanceof controllingpolice discretionand little to say abouthow to do it effectivelyor wisely.We shouldnot fault the messengerfor the message;the committee did the best it could with a body of researchthat, by and large,has paid relativelylittle attentionto the issue knowland that has manyseriousdeficiencies,for the purposeof both advancing I have outlined and of discretion. about the control edge makingpolicy police and suggestedsome waysto overcomethem. problemswith the existingliterature The highest priorityis developing measuresof police discretionthat matter to those who exerciseit, overseeit, andexperienceit. But developingtheoriesof discretion control, strengtheningresearch designs to make strongercausal inferof findingsare also importantand cerences, and expandingthe generalizability familiar to the research tainly community.It is possible to make challenges for substantial in should accept responsibility these areas. Researchers progress will be to this advances but significantly attending agenda, making realistically, expeditedif those with the fundsto shapethe directionof policingresearchestabFortoo lishthe controlof street-levelpolice discretionas a verysignificant priority. with the usual sources have been concerned mostly determining long, funding whatpreventsor reducescrime or relatedoutcomes,such as fearof crime. In the to commission foundit sufficiently 1990s,the Officeof JusticePrograms important a literaturereview to assess what worksand what does not in preventingcrime (Shermanet al. 1997).Perhapsbefore this decadeis out, the Officeof JusticeProgramsmayfind it worthwhileto commissionone or more studiesto learnhow to controlpolice discretion. Anycandidpolice chiefwillagreethatit is at leastaschalas it is to select the rightstratto implementthe strategy lengingto get the "troops" means little withoutthe capacityto egy. For democraticpolicing,accountability control officer discretion.This could hardlybe a more compellingprioritythan

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now, a time when Americanpolice are being pressuredto move onto the new terrainof promotinghomelandsecurityand respondto the threatof terrorism.

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