News‎ > ‎

Front-line Discretion: Good Cop or Bad Cop?

posted Aug 27, 2016, 2:17 AM by Eva Thomann   [ updated Aug 27, 2016, 3:38 AM ]
Photo credit
ont-line workers are bureaucrats who implement public policy and interact on a direct and regular basis with clients – such as police o
ficers, teachers and welfare workers. For many citizens, their encounters with front-line workers are their most immediate and personal exp
erience with state representatives. It is key that front-line workers adhere to the values of fairness, equality and social equity when implementing rules that were decided upon through democratic procedures.
However, front-line workers are also human beings, and it is impossible for governments to regulate every aspect of their daily working experiences. It often makes sense to let front-line workers make their own judgments. For example, take the police officer who has to make tough, spli
t-second decisions in often unforeseen and dangerous situations. His or her reaction wil
l be a product of the training, experience and professional values of an individual whose expertise greatly exceeds that of any politician. Police practice relies and depends on these assets. However, the well-documented racial bias in police practices also shows how problematic this can be.

Should front-line workers have discretion or should they be subject to tight control? This controversy has long divided scholars and prac
titioners. (...)