"Driver's License, Military ID, and Proof of Registration and Insurance, Please." An Exploratory Study of Officer Discretion Surrounding Traffic Stops on an Air Force Installation

Open Access
Holman, Steven Lee
Graduate Program:
Criminal Justice
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
November 16, 2018
Committee Members:
  • Donald Charles Hummer II, Thesis Advisor
  • Jonathan Lee, Committee Member
  • discretion
  • U.S. Air Force
  • race
  • gender
  • age
  • infraction
  • seriousness of offense
  • qualitative
  • Air Force
  • citation
Officer discretion is a well-debated concept across American culture today. Movements such as “Driving While Black,” “Driving While Brown,” and the most well recognized today, “Black Lives Matter” all deal with officer discretion, whether the movement is aware of it or not. A plethora of research has been conducted on how local, county, and state law enforcement officers use their discretionary authority, however to date, no such study has been conducted on a policing entity within the United States military. This study, through observational ride-alongs, breaks that barrier and assesses how one particular Air Force unit’s law enforcement patrolmen exercise such a profound authority.