Power vs Authority

Table of Content

“Authority and power are two different things: power is the force using which you can oblige others to obey you. Authority is the right to direct and command, to be listened to or obeyed by others. Authority requests power. Power without authority is tyranny.” – JACQUES MARITAIN, “The Democratic Charter,” Man and the State.

There are many differences and many similarities between power and authority. In the criminal justice system, one must realize that they will have both of these traits in possession and must use them wisely to maintain stability and balance. You will be given power through assistance from others in your field, through the specific skills you were taught which will develop each day physically and mentally, and people will realize your power as your progress. You will also have authority from your position and who you are as a person. Your influence in the field you work in will make people respect you and see you as a higher authority. They will be advised of you from their mistakes and they will learn from you. It is from your power which they will give you authority and your presence. If they do not obey your authority from their negative acts, they will face the consequences, that is power from authority.

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Power must not be used in the wrong way. If your power is used for the wrong reasons, it can create chaos and you may face consequences from powers above you. Authority must not be used in the wrong way either. Through authority, people must listen and abide by you. You can make people do wrong things and that will cause you to have a bad image. Corrupt cops are an example of power and authority used in the wrong way. When they take advantage of what they are representing the law, they can get away with numerous things if planned and executed correctly. Speeding tickets can be gone through a simple bribe, money laundering can be organized through the powers police possess, Power Vs Authority: Week 3 3

even drug trafficking can be permitted as long as a police officer gets his/her cut. In addition to grave consequences for the individuals suffering from power misused, unethical acts by criminal justice professionals also harm society. Residents of a neighborhood are mistreated by law enforcement and are therefore afraid to go to the police station to report a crime and far fewer criminals will be caught. These sorts of problems will weaken society’s belief in the justice system and, not only lead to increasing in lawlessness but can also result in some individuals taking the law into their own hands. This cannot be tolerated in law enforcement, power and authority must be used responsibly and must be under surveillance as well….it’s why we have internal affairs.

In the criminal justice system, authority is more important than power. Power is given through your rank and as you develop through rank, so will your power and so will your authority. But it is your authority that will represent what kind of person you are through the actions and the experiences you will face. Police officers have power but their authority to the city and through the criminal justice system is what makes them stand out, so It is important for professionals in the criminal justice field to study ethics, because mistakes by these professionals can be extremely costly. They should recognize the great potential for harm that is associated with the study of criminal justice, and they do not knowingly place the well-being of themselves or other people in jeopardy in their professional work. one wrong judgment can cost you your job. Ethics will teach an individual to use power and authority responsibly and will encourage them to give proper authority towards others.

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Power vs Authority. (2016, Aug 28). Retrieved from


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