law enforcement

Law enforcement as a pillar of the criminal justice system

Along with courts and corrections, law enforcement is one of the three major pillars of the criminal justice system in the United States. Although each of these elements functions largely separately, they all work together to form the criminal administration, investigation, and punishment that is the primary objective of the criminal justice system. Legal decisions governing the behavior of the other two components must be made by the judges, according to a mandate. This essay aims to shed light on a few operational aspects of the three components and their importance.

The role of a police detective

A police detective is essentially a defender of the law. In this regard, an officer needs to ensure the protection and enforcement of the law through the appropriate processes. To ensure this, during the recruitment process, law enforcement professionals are offered specialized training through a post-secondary education and police academies. Through this, they get to learn and understand a certain perspective in life regarding their legal duties and responsibilities to the society they will be sworn to protect. They also learn how to demystify certain biases and preconceived notions that may act as basis for preferences.

In addition to that, they also get to learn their legal and ethical mandates. For instance, in the classes, the police learn about police or criminal justice ethics. The ethics offer additional tools on issues such as the use of force in particular instances. Dispensing the duty of law enforcement requires that the officer knows the law he or she is protecting. This will ensure that through the duty, he or she does not violate the law that was supposed to be enforced and protected. Post-secondary education prepares and equips the officer with the required knowledge on how to perform the law enforcement duty (Rydberg & Terrill, 2010).

Arrest, Search, and Seizure Policies

The United States Constitution through the Fourth Amendment protects the citizens' right to be free from unjustified or unreasonable government intrusion in their property, homes, persons, and businesses. It generally protects personal privacy against police activities such as arbitrary arrest or searches of homes and businesses. It also provides safeguards regarding how law enforcement agencies can search, detain, or seize items or property that may be used as evidence in criminal cases. According to its provisions, the degree of protection that can be available in a given case depends on the nature of an arrest or detention, the circumstances under which a search is carried out, and the characteristics of the place searched.

The provisions also state that not every arrest, search, or seizure must be made in respect to a lawfully executed warrant. There are exceptions made to the provisions of the Fourth Amendment warrant requirements. The United States Supreme Court made a ruling that stated that warrantless police conduct may be considered to have adhered to the Fourth Amendment as long as it is proven that there were reasonable circumstances that led to the action. The exceptions as presented by the court reflected the court's reluctance to impede the duties of law enforcement. In addition to this, the Court has also made attempts to define the practice realities faced by the police in their daily duties in regards to the privacy and freedom interests of the public. For instance, there is a common threat of evidence being destroyed as a result of the requirement that police need warrants before arresting, searching, or seizing. The Fourth Amendment also anticipates abuse by law enforcement. Even though there are several exceptions that allow warrantless collection of evidence, the law offers an opportunity for the accused to object to harmful evidence. They suspect can be successful especially in cases where there are issues in how the evidence was obtained (LaFave, 2004).

Due Process and Crime Control According to Herbert Parker

Parker describes to models that oppose each other; the crime control model and the due process model. The crime control model is based on the assumption that in law enforcement there is absolute reliability in police fact-finding and that the arrested suspects are already found guilty. On the hand, the due process model describes a principle of how a suspect cannot be deprived of liberty, property, or life without appropriate legal procedures being followed. Its further states that a person charged with a particular crime should enjoy all the rights as provided for by the criminal justice system through the due process model.

As mentioned above, the two models are practically opposed to each other. The first and main difference is that the due process model is centered on the fact that arrested suspects remain innocent until proven guilty or not in a court of law. The crime control model does not provide for this as it asserts that suspects are already guilty when arrested and therefore need to be punished. Another major difference is that the due process model describes the importance of policing within the criminal justice systems stating that it plays a major role in upholding justice within a society. On the hand, the crime control model holds that arresting people in a criminal justice system brings about negative impacts and causes slowed the process of the system. Moreover, there is another difference in the two models given that the crime control models states that upholding of the rights of defendants or suspects is costly and uses up money that could be used in the recruitment of more police and building of prisons. Contrarily, the due process model believes that rights are paramount and proving guilt is essential in keeping governments in control. From the above, the crime control models seem to disregard the fundamental need for rights protections hence making it the model that lends itself to the possibility of ethical violations in law enforcement (Cole et al., 2016).

Police Conduct and Liability

The law varies somewhat from state to state in regards to supervisor liability for the actions of a subordinate in law enforcement. However, most lawsuits against police tend to involve claims of federal constitutional misconduct and therefore can be handled under Title 42 of the United States Code, Section 1983. The section describes factors such as policies, customs, and supervision in hiring, training, and discipline and how their exercise or lack thereof could cause a different type of liability. It explains the municipal, personal, and supervisor liabilities and their legal repercussions (Ravenell & Brigandi, 2017).

The Fourth Circuit in the United States Court has also listed several elements that amount to supervisory liability. For instance, a supervisor becomes liable if;

- He or she had actual constructive or actual knowledge regarding the misconduct of a subordinate.

- The response to the particular knowledge of the misconduct was inadequate or exhibit indifference to authorization.

- There was an affirmative or direct link between the supervisor's inaction and the achieved misconduct or violation by the subordinate.

The supervisor has a responsibility to ensure that the subordinates are abiding by the law and in case of any type of violation, the supervisor needs to take appropriate action. Intervention can be in form of punishment or simple redirection. Avoiding legal liability calls for the supervisor to note the intervention or action he or she initiated to remedy the misconduct. The First Circuit of the United States Court States Court of Appeal describes various requirements for proof of supervisory liability. For example; the risk of harm, the supervisor's knowledge and actions regarding the risk, a supervisor's inaction or failure to address the risk, and the affirmed connection between the subordinate's misconduct and the supervisor's conduct (Antieau, 2016).


Law enforcement in the United States has gone through numerous changes through the years. There have been strategies put in place by several agencies to ensure better protection and enforcement of the law. After police training in the academies, police are expected to perform their duties with high morality and professionalism. Therefore, it is important that there is continued improvement in training strategies given that as the society develops and populations grow police will face new challenges in dispensing their duty.


Antieau, C. J. (2016). Police Power Regulation--Individual and Collective Rights, and Public Movement. Antieau on Local Government Law, Second Edition, 2.

Cole, G. F., Smith, C. E., & DeJong, C. (2016). Criminal justice in America. Nelson Education.

LaFave, W. R. (2004). Search and Seizure: A treatise on the Fourth Amendment (Vol. 4). West Group Publishing.

Ravenell, T., & Brigandi, A. (2017). The Blurred Blue Line: Municipal Liability, Police Indemnification, and Financial Accountability in Section 1983 Litigation.

Rydberg, J., & Terrill, W. (2010). The Effect of Higher Education on Police Behavior. Police Quarterly, 13(1), 92-120.

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