Functions of police
• maintain law & order, and to protect
• prevent crime
• charging responsibilities
• give advice, assistance, support
Brannigan summarizes theses as:
-maintenance of order
-social services (75% of work)
Selective enforcement: how/why?
Allocation on practical grounds : we don’t have police in every corner, and we
never will. There are limited resources and bad things happening in society.
White collar v street crime.
Allocation on policy grounds: no, we are no longer going to investigate pot
possession. Policy decision not to enforce certain types of crime. Ex. The
abortion offence. Domestic violence isn’t taking seriously by the prosecutors.
Cyber bullying should be taken more seriously. It is easier to control when it is
public and explicit. Parliament recognizes the practical necessities. Unequal
treatment between cases.
Allocation at individual level :
-Dispatcher: the dispatcher didn’t follow policies. 80-90% of the content is
through the dispatcher. Urban areas it tends not to be a problem, usually
trained properly. Many rural areas don’t have that. You often don’t have the
training and expertise as to when someone should or should not be sent.
-Officer at the scene: Officer on the street. What can they do?
Choices at scene:
• Charge or not
• warn or lecture
• back off right away
• try to mediate
• remove person
• Arrest vs. summons or appearance notice
• In light of 2 possibly conﬂicting principles: assume innocence vs.
safety of society.
• Criminal Code: 495 & ss. 494-497: duty not to arrest without
warrant in certain circumstances.
Factors re choosing action:
- Sexual assault vs. assault.
- Accused reaction of the assault: if someone is rude to me, I
may be rude to them.
- Policy mandated by the department: ignore this type of crime,
and arrest for a different crime. - Policy considerations by the individual officer: some officers
may be harder against sexual assault, or drunk driving.
- Individual concerns of compassion, humanity, charity,
nastiness, etc. Should we arrest, or take them home etc.
- Practical considerations re allocations or resources at
individual’s level, including efficiency concerns: Where do I
want to spend my time? If there is no evidence why would I
- We tend not to have any agency accountability. It is always the
police officers fault – the bad apple.
- How do we ensure equal treatment when so many of the factors
are not equal.
Modern context for police work
• changing demographics
• ﬁnancing – less money/more work
• Growth of private policing: ex Carleton university
• changing crime trends: understanding DNA, drunk driving, internet crimes. Different
needs by policing since the crimes are changing. The way we can steal from people, kill
people, promote hatred etc. has changes.
• changing investigative techniques
• Police culture: traditionally conservative bodies oriented to status quo. You are hired
to enforce the law, and the rules of the state. Women weren’t hired, unless the
agencies were forced to hire the women. There are lots of changes in terms of pol