Law enforcement officers can’t cite every jaywalker, stop every speeder, and arrest every underage drinker, nor would most people want them to do so. Wisely exercising discretion is an important part of an officer’s work. At the same time, North Carolina has a statute that makes it a crime for an officer willfully to fail to discharge his or her duties. That statute has occasionally been used to prosecute officers who chose not to enforce criminal laws. This post considers the extent to which the statute constrains an officer’s discretion.
Kenly is a small town with a population just under 2,000. It made national news recently when the chief and all the full-time officers in the Kenly Police Department resigned. It sounds like Kenly is planning to rebuild its police department. But that isn’t mandatory. For now, the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office is providing law enforcement services in Kenly, and Kenly could choose to do without a police department on a permanent basis. In fact, there are hundreds of municipalities in North Carolina that don’t have their own police departments. This post highlights some of the considerations for small towns thinking about whether or not to have a police department.
Editor’s note: This post contains vulgar language that isn’t suitable for children and quite possibly many adults. If you’re an email subscriber, your spam filter probably won’t like it, either. Also, it is quite long.
A federal court of appeals recently ruled in favor of a man who called a group of police officers “bitch ass fucking pigs,” “motherfuckers,” and “dirty rat bastards.” It found that his arrest on disorderly conduct charges was unjustified because “mere epithets” directed at a law enforcement officer, no matter how coarse or profane, do not constitute fighting words and are protected by the First Amendment. Wood v. Eubanks, 25 F.4th 414 (6th Cir. 2022). This raises the question: do police officers really have to put up with this?
What do the topics in the title of this blog post have in common? They were the focus of the students’ criminal justice presentations this week. Nine teams of students, two on each team, have been researching and preparing their presentations throughout the semester. Here are some of my takeaways from the first set of presentations.