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Crim Class 8.doc

Course Code
LAWS 2301
Ronald Saunders

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Criminal Justice System November 4, 2011
Class 8
Selective enforcement
Powers, duties, realities
Review/accountability mechanisms
Distorted view of police
Agents of the state- protected by state and criticized by state
Don’t criticize institution of police but on individual aberrations rather than
Individual accountability and problems
Media distorts police - job is seen as view of more violence, physical
View police differently individually based on: ethnicity, where you live, previous
encounters etc
Well paid, viewed as a profession now more so than before
Prestige has gone up
Filtering is a problem- talking about police in general ways -different ideological
views and different types of forces with higher standards
Urban vs rural; regional vs federal
Police portray selves as enforcers of law – selectively enforce
Why is criminal law selectively enforced?
Functions of police
Maintain law and order, and to protect
Prevent crime
Charging responsibilities (often with the Crown)
Controlling traffic
Act as witnesses
Give advice, assistance, support
Brannigan summarizes these as:
Law enforcement
Maintenance of order
Social Services (75% of work)
Not maintaining order but if someone dies at a house, police go, traffic
accident, disagreement on street etc
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What are police supposed to do in certain situations? Many choices
Selective Enforcement: how/why?
Duty to uphold law always
Individual accountability versus agency accountability
Allocation of resources on practical grounds
Police cant be everywhere
Administrative choices of where to place officers
White collar crimes – loss of money greater than street crime but resources
are miniscule compared to on the streets
Allocation on policy grounds
Marijuana, abortion- police: don’t enforce; no success in conviction
Domestic violence wasn’t being taken seriously before, less discretion in that
case now- every case mandatory charges
Differences in jurisdiction- one area wants something a crime, province
What grounds is it justified
Practical necessities – prohibition – selectively enforced
Parliament knows not all laws can always be enforced
Similar cases treated alike
But unequal treatment between cases
Individual level
Most interaction public has with police is through dispatcher (80-90%)
Well trained in most places
Dispatcher makes decisions of discretion in every call
Officer at scene
Choices at the scene:
Charge or not (invoking criminal law)
Remove person
Back off right away (not a criminal matter)
Try to mediate
If charge:
Arrest vs summons or appearance notice
In light of 2 possibly conflicting principles: assume innocence vs
safety of society
On what basis is this decided?
Criminal Code: duty not to arrest without warrant in certain
circumstances (s. 495 & ss.494-497 generally)
Arrest by any person:
494 (1) Any one may arrest without warrant
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