Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Karen Lahm (Committee Co-chair), David Orenstein (Committee Co-chair), Tracey Steele (Committee Member), Joseph F. Thomas, Jr. (Other)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


This study of police discretion contrasts realworld application to academia and has found that an understanding of police discretion is fundamentally different between the two. From focus group methodology with six special agents in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a group dynamic emerged where five of the six participants associated police discretion with the peeling of an apple. The use of this analogy and metaphor in association to the discussion of police discretion uniquely frames the processes of professionalization and bureaucratization, thus alluding to Weber's theory of bureaucracy. It appears that professionalism within law enforcement structure(s) is flawed through a linkage to bureaucracy which only works to increase supervisory control. Participants of this study stress the importance of discretion, but suggest that professionalism creates an atmostphere that allows administration, through politics, to wrongly restrict essential discretionary abilities.

Page Count


Department or Program

Applied Behavioral Science

Year Degree Awarded