Fuller, Introduction to Criminal Justice: A Brief Edition Student Resources

Chapter 5 reviews how the police are constrained in their efforts to keep order, provide services to citizens, and control crime.

Topic: How the Police Are Organized

  • Police departments vary little in how they are organized. Most departments are structured based on a quasi-military template complete with uniforms, ranks, hierarchical chains of command, and centralized decision-making.
  • There are three reasons why the military model is attractive to law enforcement administrators: controlling force through discipline; professionalization; and it   is an effective model of organization.
  • The analogy of the police as soldiers is inexact and faulty because there is a fundamental difference between how military organizations and police agencies deal with decision-making. In military organizations, important  decisions are made at the top of the chain of command and flow downward. In policing, essential discretion is vested in the judgment of the individual police officer, who determines when an offense has been committed and whether to make an arrest.
  • The three crucial differences between the police and the military that make supervising the police a different job than supervising the military are discretion, visibility, and authority.

Topic: What the Police Do

  • The most visible function of the police is patrol. Police patrol has three primary goals: to deter crime; to enhance feelings of public safety; and to make officers available for service.
  • Another common function of the police is to investigate offenses. Detectives go to a crime scene after the patrol car has responded and take over the evidence gathering so that the patrol car can be released to resume patrol.
  • Local police agencies and state highway patrols are responsible for ensuring safety on the roadways. Enforcing traffic laws can be among the most dangerous aspects of police work.
  • A major function of being a police officer is solving problems, such as domestic disputes, controlling crowds, dealing with vice offenses, dealing with mentally ill individuals, dealing with juveniles, acting as first responders, and using force when necessary.

Topic: The Rules the Police Follow

  • The procedural law dictates how the government can discover and prosecute violations of the substantive law. One way to consider procedural law is to think of it as the rules by which the government must play.
  • The police do not make an arrest every time they are legally authorized to do The criminal justice system would be swamped by the workload, and the most serious offenders would be obscured by the mass of cases. These decisions on differential law enforcement are called "discretion."

Topic: The Fourth Amendment

  • The text of the Fourth Amendment is: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
  • Procedural law controlling the activities of law enforcement is derived from the Fourth Amendment, which specifies a wide range of protections from police activity.
  • The court is concerned with several aspects of searches: the trespass doctrine, the privacy doctrine, the plain-view doctrine, the open-fields doctrine, public places, and abandoned property.
  • Police must have a warrant to conduct a search, with four major exceptions: searches incident to arrest, consent searches, exigent circumstances searches or emergency searches, and vehicle searches.
  • Special-needs searches also do not require warrants. These are: inventory searches, border searches, airport searches, searches of prisoners, searches of probationers and parolees, searches of students, and employee drug testing.
  • The police cannot present illegally seized evidence in court.
  • Stop-and-frisk encompasses two distinct behaviors. Stops may be considered seizures and frisks as searches. For a frisk to be lawful, the stop must meet the conditions of a lawful seizure.
  • An arrest involves being taken into custody, photographed, fingerprinted, interrogated, and booked.
  • The court recommends four restrictions to arrest someone at their home: the crime should be a felony, the police must knock and announce, the arrest should be made in daylight, and the police must meet a stringent probable-cause requirement.
  • Individual rights during interrogations stem from the Fifth Amendment self- incrimination clause, the Sixth Amendment right-to-counsel clause, and the    Fourteenth Amendment due-process clause.