The Good and Bad of Zero Tolerance




Ryan, Tim

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)


For several decades now, law enforcement agencies throughout the United States has used policies and practices to enforce laws and ordinances involving crimes in which a zero tolerance should be required. However, there are agencies and officers within the agencies who often choose not to enforce certain laws for several reasons. Because of this, victims may be left with feelings of helplessness and no one to turn to or a place to go. The purpose of this research is to point out why zero tolerance laws should be in effect and enforced for at least three crimes and the issues around those crimes. Determining which laws should have zero tolerance mandates and which should not is something to consider. It is obvious that not all laws can have zero tolerance enforcement attached due to it being against the basic beliefs in which this country was founded. There are critics who would suggest that zero tolerance mandates should not be applied to any of the laws. The three crimes mentioned in this research are often crimes against victims of weaker stature and of innocence. There are times when violations of family violence, driving while intoxication, and hate crimes sometimes end in the death of the victims for these types of crime. Because of this, zero tolerance laws should be in place and enforced for acts of family violence, driving while intoxicated violations, and crimes of hate.



Police discretion, Police administration