Your assignment is to prepare and submit a paper on police stress, discretion, and responses to stress. Ever since the creation of “contemporary police” in the 19th century, there has been a major concern to ensure that the police, in exercising their discretion, are appropriately insulated from partisan powerful corporate, political, or personal influences, and pressures. Therefore, discretion ensures that the police exercise their duties, not in pursuit of partisan private interests, but rather in the wider public interest. The use of discretion also plays a role in allowing a police officer the flexibility to perform his (or her) contractual obligations. Through discretion, a police officer is able quickly to discern the applicable statutory laws and act upon his (or her) determination of the best way to deal with a situation. In other words, the statute may tag a certain act as illegal, but a police officer can expeditiously make a detainment on the basis of his (or her) interpretation. As a result, discretion provides a positive aspect to the enhancement of a police officer’s contractual obligations and duties.
Watchman Style. This style focuses on maintaining order through informal processes. The watchman department proactively emphasizes resolving disputes and not preventing them. The department’s overall aim is to keep and maintain peace. It generally occurs in densely populated areas that generate numerous calls for police backing. Using this style, police officers employ discretion as a tool for keeping peace and often neglect minor infractions.
Legalistic Style. The legalistic department uses an approach to policing similar to that of the watchman but uses formal rather than informal procedures in resolving disputes. Officers employing this form of organization emphasize their roles as law enforcers and pride themselves on high standards of professionalism. It is common in larger cities with assorted populations and highly organized governments.
Service Style. This form of policing style normally occurs in middle and upper-class societies. These forms of police departments place great emphasis on public relations and community opinion.