Targeting Discretion
A Guide for Command Staff, Frontline Officers, and Students

Casey LaFrance

The culmination of a decade of research on discretion, a new go-to training resource for police employing the target model


“LaFrance’s target model of discretion explains and visually displays the intensity levels of nine potential influences on street-level bureaucrats’ decision-making behavior. This excellent model helps researchers predict how street-level bureaucrats will react in any given situation or organization.”
—Richard R. Johnson, PhD, criminal justice professor at the University of Toledo

“Having experience in both frontline police work and management in a small department, I regularly see the variation in mission priorities between ‘the brass’ and the line officer, as well as the struggle to reconcile those differences. LaFrance’s work has helped demystify the communication disconnect that leads to that disparity and has been a valuable tool in bringing each view closer in line with the other.”
—Israel D. Segers, assistant chief of Alto, Georgia’s police department


Since the 1970s, frontline officers and police command staff have been trained to view discretion as a “doughnut hole.” Unfortunately, this model is becoming stale in an era of complex relationships, fuzzy boundaries, and multiple accountability considerations. In this book, Casey LaFrance builds off of his work on police discretion to present a fresh alternative theoretical framework for discussing discretion and improving communication about it in law enforcement agencies. Rather than being bound by a single ring of constraint, the target model envisions discretionary decision-making as the product of multiple variables that deserve unique consideration. Moreover, the model provides a visual and practical method of articulating each of the factors that limit or influence discretion while affording scholars and practitioners the ability to compare and contrast the priority levels that officers and command staff attach to each factor.

Practicing police managers and trainers will find that the book provides case examples from process consultation and organization development interventions, along with a step-by-step guide and other resources (glossary, sample scenarios, strategic planning guides) that law enforcement agencies can use to employ the target model in a host of training activities. Scholars interested in the topic of police discretion will appreciate the variety of qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches used to explore the puzzle of discretion, the author’s intriguing findings, and the potential for future research rooted in this framework.

Disributed for the University Press of North Georgia

Page count: 168 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


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Casey LaFrance is an associate professor in the department of political science at Western Illinois University and was recently named the 2014–2015 First Year Experience Professor of the Year. His work has appeared in the International Journal of Police Science & Management, the Law Enforcement Executive Forum, Public Organization Review, Policing: A Journal of Policy & Practice, the National Civic Review, Politics & Policy, American Politics Research, and Judicature, among others.