Discretion in Decision Making


In this project, you will demonstrate your mastery of the following competency:

  • Explain how discretion is utilized in decision making within criminal justice professions


You are a patrol officer on duty with your partner. At approximately 1:45 a.m., you observe a fast-moving vehicle run through a red stoplight. You attempt to stop the vehicle, which refuses to pull over but does turn on its hazard signal. Using light detection and ranging (lidar) technology, you determine the vehicle to be traveling in excess of the posted speed limit. After a brief two-mile traffic pursuit, the vehicle pulls into a hospital emergency room ambulance bay. The male driver exits the vehicle with his arms raised in the air and begins shouting at you and your partner. A female passenger then exits the vehicle, also with her arms raised. She yells that her water broke and that she is in active labor and needs to get into the hospital. What step do you take next? How do you address the situation?

Possible next steps:

  • Arrest the male driver for reckless driving, fleeing, and eluding, which means he will miss the birth of his child.
  • Issue a warning to the male driver and get medical personnel to address the female passenger.
  • Issue traffic citations to the male driver and get medical personnel to address the female passenger.
  • Escort the couple into the hospital and do nothing regarding traffic violations/pursuit.


Internal Justification Statement

You will be creating a written internal justification statement to submit to the chief of your department. You are a new patrol officer and are asked to provide information on how discretion could be used for this situation and other situations. Using the scenario, create a written statement (with all sections identified) that addresses all of the required elements:

  1. Explain what it means to exercise discretion and the role it plays in the criminal justice field.
  2. Describe the roles integrity, authority, discretionary power, and morality play in discretionary decision making. Answer the following questions in your description:
    • What is the relationship between integrity, authority, and discretionary power?
    • What is the difference between ethics and morals, and how does each affect discretionary decision making? 
  3. Summarize the actions taken in response to the provided discretionary dilemma. Answer the following questions in your summary:
    • What discretionary decision did you make for the provided scenario?
    • Why did you make the decision? 
  4. Explain how integrity, authority, discretionary power, and morality affected the decision you made. Answer the following questions in your explanation: 
    • What role did integrity, authority, and discretionary power play in the decision you made?
    • How did ethics and morals influence your decision in this scenario?
  5. Explain how decisions in law enforcement affect discretionary decisions made in courts and corrections. Answer the following questions in your explanation: 
    • If you choose to summons or arrest the male driver, how might the court react once the circumstances are known?
    • What discretionary decisions may be made in court?
    • How could the decisions made in court potentially affect corrections?

What to Submit

To complete this project, you must submit the following:

Internal Justification Statement

Create a written statement justifying the discretionary decisions made in the scenario. This statement will be for internal use only and will be kept on file within your department. The statement should address the rubric criteria listed above: exercising discretion; integrity, authority, discretionary power, and morality in discretionary decision making; summary of actions; integrity, authority, discretionary power, and morality in the provided scenario; and decisions affecting other branches.

Submit your statement as a 2- to 4-page Word document with 12-point Times New Roman font, double spacing, and one-inch margins. Cite sources according to APA style.

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