Police-community relations issues from an ethics

  • Police Discretion

    Competencies Addressed in This Assignment

    • Competency 1: Analyze police-community relations issues from an ethics perspective.
    • Competency 4: Explore the use of police discretion in complex criminal justice issues.


    Incidents that involve police shooting are stressful on police officers for many reasons in part because they result in uncertainty about many things. There is no set routine or easy procedure to follow after such an incident occurs. The police agency, in many instances, is tasked with investigating one of their own as these incidents are classified as homicides (in the event of a death). The third party in this equation is the family and community. As we have witnessed, these events can cause a great strain on police-community relations. A good portion of the reason for the strain is a result of information. The community demands answers. The police agency may not be able to provide some answers as the investigation is ongoing and facts and evidence are still being gathered. Also, misinformation can circulate adding to community frustrations.


    Review the NBC video Wisconsin Shooting of Unarmed Black Teen Raises Questions from this unit’s study. Put yourself in the place of the police agency’s public information officer. The chief of police has approached you and wants to hold a news conference the following morning after the shooting. The chief has asked for your input on information to be released during the press conference. Keep in mind that you will have to balance the integrity of the investigation, legal issues, and the needs of the community. The chief has asked you submit a minimum two-page memorandum.

  • In your memorandum:
    • Determine how much of the officer’s statement should be released to the public.
    • Analyze two legal issues that will impact the amount and nature of information released.
    • Assess the pros and cons of releasing the video of the shooting.

    Refer to the Police Discretion Scoring Guide to ensure you meet all evaluation criteria.

    Other Requirements

    Your paper should meet the following requirements:

    • Written communication: Must be free of errors that detract from the overall message.
    • Resources and citations: Format according to current APA style and formatting guidelines.
    • Length of paper: Two typed, double-spaced pages, not including the title page or the references page.
    • References: A minimum of 2 references.
    • Font and font size: Times New Roman, 12 point.

    You are required to submit your paper to Turnitin. Once you review your results and make any needed changes, submit your paper for grading.Note: Your instructor may also use the Writing Feedback Tool to provide feedback on your writing. In the tool, click the linked resources for helpful writing information.


Wisconsin Police Shooting of Unarmed Black Teen Raise Questions


Tonight, there are protests over another deadly police shooting of an unarmed man after complaints of a confrontation, this one last night in Madison, Wisconsin. The investigation is just now beginning. And we get more tonight from NBC’s Anne Thompson.

(Crowd protesting)

ANNE THOMPSON, reporting:

From Madison, Wisconsin today cries similar to the ones heard in Ferguson and New York.

CROWD (in unison): Black lives matter.

THOMPSON: Protesters out in force after last night’s killing of Tony Terrell Robinson Junior, an unarmed black man shot by police. Tapes of local police transmission showed the beginning of the incident as police responded to a complaint.

MAN #1 (recording): Look for a male black, light skinned, tanned jacket and jeans outside yelling and jumping in front of cars. Nineteen years of age. Name is Tony Robinson.

THOMPSON: More police calls came in with reports he assaulted people before running into an apartment. Madison’s police chief says an officer followed the suspect, heard a disturbance and forced his way into the apartment where the suspect attacked him.

MAN #2 (recording): Shots fired. Shots fired.

MAN #3 (recording): 1247 copy. Shots fired.

THOMPSON: Today officials identified Matt Kenny, a twelve-year veteran, as the officer who shot and killed Robinson.

CHIEF MIKE KOVAL (Madison, Wisconsin Police): I want to be very transparent. He was unarmed.

THOMPSON: Officer Kenny, Chief Koval said, was involved and cleared in a fatal shooting in 2007. Kenny is now on administrative leave.

SHARON IRWIN: Oh, my God. They killed my grandson.

THOMPSON: Robinson’s grandmother and aunt joined protesters at the crime scene last night, telling the crowd Robinson was a good person who planned to go to a technical college. They urged calm. The state division of criminal investigation now has the case as required by law in police shootings. Chief Koval called for restraint in the wake of Robinson’s death.

CHIEF KOVAL: We need to make this a very public show of our remorse and contrition for his loss. Nineteen years old is too young.

THOMPSON: A loss, he described, as tragic. Anne Thompson, NBC News, New York.

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