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Overview: For this assignment, due in Module Two, you will write a policy analysis memorandum that is a minimum of one page in length, excluding title and reference pages, that explains to the supervisor of your criminal justice agency the importance of incorporating an understanding of at least two criminological theories into policymaking. Explain how your understanding of the theories would help you begin to analyze policy for how it could be improved. This memorandum will help prepare you for your Milestone One submission in Module Three.
First, review the document Criminological Theories Defined as well as the different criminological theories that are described in your text Criminological Theory. Select two theories to complete this assignment. In your reading and in your research, pay particular attention to how criminological theories have been applied in the creation or revision of departmental policies.
Next, consider the following scenario: Your supervisor needs to be convinced of the need to incorporate criminological theory into the decisions that are made regarding departmental policy-making. Write this memo for a departmental policy from one of the three following departments: law enforcement, the courts, or corrections.
Use the Memorandum Template to complete the assignment. Address the following critical elements as they are reflected in the Sample Policy Memorandum.
Prompt: These critical elements appear as headings in the Memorandum Template and must be addressed:
1. Issue Presented: In a brief one-sentence question, summarize the importance of incorporating an understanding of at least two criminological theories into the decisions that are made regarding departmental policymaking. 2. Short Answer: Provide a short answer that summarizes the conclusion of the memorandum. 3. Statement of Facts: Describe how incorporating these two criminological theories will result in more effective policymaking. 4. Discussion: Using examples from your text and from your own research, briefly discuss at least one example of a departmental policy (from law enforcement, the courts, or corrections) that has effectively been revised to incorporate these two criminological theories. 5. Conclusion: Provide a conclusion based on the research you have done and the details you have gathered. 6. Recommendations: Recommend incorporating an understanding of at least two criminological theories into a departmental policy in one of the three following departments: law enforcement, the courts, or corrections.
Reference your textbook or other course readings to support your submission.
Sample Policy Memorandum
Note: The headings below are ones typically seen in a legal policy memorandum. Keep in mind, however, that different professions—and companies within these professions—may use different headings or formats for their memorandums.
TO: District Judge of the Third Circuit
FROM: Assistant Prosecutor
RE: Graham v. Connor Case – Judging Use of Force Issues
DATE: January 1, 2016
Issue Presented When one of our police officers is involved in a use of force incident, what perspective should be used in judging the reasonableness of that officer’s use of force?
Short Answer When judging reasonableness, in the application of force, the perspective to be used is that of a reasonable objective officer standing in the shoes of the officer at the time the application of force is used. That officer is additionally briefed to disregard 20/20 hindsight.
Statement of Facts The case of Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989), is the applicable precedent and rule of law applicable to these situations. In Graham, supra, an officer made a traffic stop on an individual who was diabetic. As a result of low sugar, Graham was attempting to buy orange juice. He was driven to a convenience store by Berry, pulling in expeditiously. Graham ran into the convenience store and rapidly exited after seeing the line was too long. Berry and Graham then swiftly pulled out of the convenience store parking lot. Based on the aforementioned events, Officer Connor, observed this behavior and was troubled by the situation. Connor believed some type of crime or a robbery may have occurred in the convenience store. The officer conducted an investigative stop to determine whether or not criminal activity had taken place. Graham was incoherent and refused to comply with officer requests, running around the vehicle as a result of low insulin. Due to his behavior, Graham was subsequently handcuffed and detained while officers were conducting a preliminary investigation. The officers at the time had no idea that Graham was diabetic. Graham was not charged with a crime but sustained injuries while being handcuffed. Graham brought suit against the officers for a violation of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C § 1983, for excessive use of force and violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be free
from unreasonable search and seizure. Graham contended that the officers disregarded the fact that he was diabetic. Id at 392-394.
Discussion As a result of recent use of force issues across the country, there has been intense media scrutiny placed on law enforcement. As grand juries have convened, in both Ferguson and New York City, there has been unparalleled attention and protests as to why these officers have not been indicted. This is a result of the public having a general misunderstanding and misconception of how the law is applied. It is paramount that the general public understand the context when judging the reasonableness of incidents involving the use of force. A complete and thorough understanding of the law is critical when analyzing these incidents. Grand juries are instructed on the law when reaching their conclusions. This, in fact, is the dispositive reason as to why these grand juries have refused to indict these officers. When judging reasonableness, in the application of force, grand juries are advised that they must stand in the shoes of the officer at the time the application of force is used. They are additionally briefed to disregard 20/20 hindsight based on the aforementioned Graham standard. That judgment should be based on the “objective reasonableness” standard outlined in Graham. Police officers often have a fraction of a second to make a life and death decision. After the fact, that decision, may in fact, be wrong. However, the incident cannot be judged with hindsight. Under Graham, we must stand in the shoes of the officer at the time the force is being applied to determine its reasonableness. The realization that a gun is in fact a toy after the application of deadly force is a perfect illustration of this point. However, using the Graham analysis, was the officers’ application of deadly force “objectively reasonable?”
Conclusion In reaching its conclusion, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the officers stating in a pertinent part:
All claims that law enforcement officials have used excessive force—deadly or not—in the course of an arrest, investigatory stop, or other “seizure” of a free citizen are properly analyzed under the Fourth Amendment’s “objective reasonableness” standard, rather than under a substantive due process standard. Graham at 392-399.
This “objective reasonableness” must be applied while “standing in the shoes of the officer” at the time the incident takes place. The Supreme Court recognized that officers have to make splitsecond decisions in the course of executing their duties. The benefit of 20/20 hindsight must be disregarded when judging “objective reasonableness”. Id at 399. Obviously, had the officers known that Graham was diabetic, they would have taken different action. However, this information was revealed after the incident took place.
Recommendations The general public has a general misunderstanding and misconception of how the law is applied in use of force situations. It is paramount that the general public understand the context, when judging the reasonableness of incidents involving the use of force, before judging the incident. A complete and thorough understanding of the law is critical when analyzing these incidents. The understanding of this approach is the dispositive reason as to why grand juries have refused to
indict many officers. It is imperative that our agency deals with this negative public perception with an informational campaign on the Graham standard. This information should be disseminated proactively before another incident becomes the lightning rod of controversy and reactionary public perception. It is also important that our officers be trained in the proper use of force, the use of force continuum, and from what perspective their actions are going to be judged. If these strategies are followed, there should be better public awareness of the situation, better trained officers, and a thoughtful/mindful approach to the application of force.
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989)