Magazine article Law & Order

High-Profile Arrests

Magazine article Law & Order

High-Profile Arrests

Article excerpt

Do your officers know it is okay to arrest your state's Attorney General for drunk driving? How about the chief of the TSA for one of the nation's busiest airports? How about the coach of a Super Bowl winning football team? How about ticketing the governor's chauffeur for speeding? How about a celebrity for minor marijuana possession? Each of these has actually happened.

Let's get a little closer to home, since all politics are local. How about writing an infraction or making a misdemeanor arrest of the popular college basketball coach? Or, worse yet, the high school basketball coach? Or local, influential, outspoken politician? Are your officers going to drive home another police officer who is driving drunk, or arrest him? Arrest an off-duty officer involved in domestic violence-or would your officer just try to calm things down?

Are you ready for the call at 0300 that one of your officers just arrested a genuine VIP? Forget about the PIO. They know how to soften the impact, but it is the chief or sheriff that sets the arrest policies, formal and informal.

According to US Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger, "The average police officer working the beat makes more decisions, and exercises broader discretion, affecting the daily lives of people everyday, and to a greater extent, than a judge will exercise in a week."

Do your officers know your position on these kinds of politically-sensitive arrests? Will you support a good arrest? Or ask them if they have lost their mind? As chief or sheriff, you have a dilemma on how to shape this discretion. …

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