Measuring police attitudes towards discretion

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Author(s)
Wortley, RK
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Curt R. Bartol

Date
2003
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Abstract

This article describes the construction of two scales to measure police attitudes toward the selective enforcement of the law. The Service-Legalistic scale measures police discretion along a flexible-inflexible continuum. Service-oriented police advocate the use of discretion to help solve social problems; legalistic police oppose discretion because it interferes with their duty to enforce the law equitably. The Watchman scale examines the use of discretion to maintain control. Watchman-oriented police simultaneously ignore minor offenses and call for greater powers to deal with serious crime. Service-related discretion was found to negatively correlate with authoritarianism and the belief that crime is caused by the individual dispositions of offenders; watchman-related discretion positively correlated with authoritarianism, ethnocentrism, and a belief in individual crime causation.

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Criminal Justice and Behavior

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30

Issue

5

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© 2003 Sage Publications. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. First published in Criminal Justice & Behavior. This journal is available online: http://cjb.sagepub.com/content/vol30/issue5/

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Criminology

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