Communication integrity above all’ and ‘uphold the rule

Communication skills and police professionalism standards are paramount for all effective NSW Police Force Officers in making sure they remain in accordance with the Code of Conduct and Ethics, Statement of Values, Oath of Office and all other legislation. Police Officers have the community responsibility to operate within the confines of the law, embodying appropriate care, diligence and fairness towards all individuals in society, enabling officers to use their own professional police discretion appointed to them through original authority in complex situations. These ideas are further extrapolated throughout the essay to draw meaning on the expected behaviour of an exemplary NSW Police Force Officer.

 Discuss how the police in the scenario have failed to meet the ideals and expectations outlined in NSW policy and NSW legislation. Your answer should specifically consider whether the police acted with appropriate care, diligence and fairness towards the youths in the scenario (30 marks)A sworn NSW Police Officer has a legal obligation to the public explicitly outlined in the NSW Police Policy and Legislation which demands the fulfilment of the organisation’s values and ideals. This reinforces the impartiality that officers must possess to remain unaffected by negative stigma and remain neutral in their duty of law enforcement when faced with prejudice and stereotypes. A Police Officer who does not fulfil their obligations to society fails to act with appropriate care, diligence and fairness in their role of peacekeeping.

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Throughout the scenario, the Senior Constable is portrayed with prejudicial behaviour towards the youths in the country town due to negative stereotypes, conveyed when he addresses the group as “no-hopers”. The Senior Constable’s personal views are reinforced by the scientifically proven idea that the brain reacts more strongly to groups who are portrayed unfavourably within society (APA reference), this prejudice leads to biased police discretion especially when the Senior Officer’s views have the potential to be transferred to less experienced officers due to his authority. The Statement of Values reveals that officers are to ‘place integrity above all’ and ‘uphold the rule of law’ but in this circumstance have acted with ‘malice and ill-will’ (Oath of Office) towards the young individuals. The Senior Officer yelling “get back or you’ll go in for hinder police” when the group protests violates Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (1948) which states that every right in the UDHR is afforded to all humans ‘without any distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex… or other opinions’.

The Senior Constable’s provocation escalated the interaction by placing Tommy in a wrist lock and directing his partner to handcuff him. This unlawful arrest is in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (1966) that states ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention’ and ‘no one shall experience inhumane or degrading treatment’. Definitively, the Police Officers in the scenario failed to meet the NSW Police Force ideals and expectations through their failure to appropriately act with care, diligence and fairness needed to aptly use their discretion in this volatile situation.    Explain the concept of police discretion and discuss how appropriately it was applied in the scenario (25 marks) According to Kenneth Culp Davis (APA REFERENCING NEEDED) ‘A public officer has the discretion whenever the effective limits on his power leave him or her free to make a choice among possible courses of action or inaction’. NSW Police Force Officers are enabled through original authority to use their professional discretion. The Senior Constable inaptly uses the Oath of Office as a justification to enable unlawful actions towards the youths in an attempt to ‘prevent to the best of his power all offences against that peace’, this misguided action causes his professional discretion to become questionable.

The Senior Constable needed to ‘take reasonable steps to avoid conflict of interest’ (Code of Conduct and Ethics) to ensure his prejudice did not cloud his judgement. The Senior Constable failed to recognise that discretion is in good faith and rather than upholding its spirit he chose to fixate on the letter of the law when checking the youth’s beer cans, disregarding that their intention may not have been to deliberately break the law. Furthermore, the Senior Constable denies Tommy one of the five Human Rights that a Police Officer may never breach, the presumption of innocence (article 11). The Officer’s prejudiced actions trigger Tommy to react instinctually by pulling away when placed in a wrist lock which appears unlawful to the Senior Constable which causes him to yell “that’s resisting arrest, you’re in real trouble now”.

Mark Finanne, a leading historian of policing emphasises the prevalence of discretion in law enforcement stating “Every level of police work… involves choice on part of the police officer” (APA Reference).The Statement of Values outline Officers obligation to ‘strive for citizen and police personal satisfaction” however, this is not applied in the scenario as the Constable recognises his duty to use professional discretion towards Tommy when he states “he is under eighteen and I’m pretty sure he hasn’t been in trouble with the police before” exhibiting his awareness that the Senior Constable is reacting with emotional rather than rational decision making. Police professional discretion is paramount to a successful Police Officer coupled with good communication skills allowing them to skilfully diffuse situations when they arise to achieve satisfaction through fulfilling their obligations and protecting community rights and freedoms. 

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