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Police officers are gatekeepers of the criminal court system and must make a number of critical decisions during their interactions with citizens and in the performance of their duties. To make decisions, officers use normative criteria such as responsibility and blameworthiness as well as pragmatic and efficiency criteria such as the likelihood of conviction, the amount of time and effort needed, and the organizational barriers that may prevent a desired result. Because officers have much legal authority and make many critical decisions that affect citizens' liberty and safety, it is important to understand how officers arrive at their decisions and the societal consequences of these decisions.

This entry examines what criteria police officers use to make these decisions and what community, departmental, and personal factors affect ...

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