Police Law

Guide to Law Enforcement Personnel



Police Laws are those laws dealing with the regulation and code of conduct of law enforcement officials. These laws answer the question of “who polices the police?” by providing guidelines by which officers must conduct themselves and mechanisms by which law enforcement agencies can monitor their own, such as internal affairs divisions, oversight by state attorney generals, and so forth. Many of these laws deal with issues such as the use of excessive force by police officers, police misconduct, giving suspects their Miranda rights, corruption, interrogation practices, and police brutality.

Who are Considered to be “Police” Under the Law?

Police forces are usually considered to be non-military organizations that operate under the authority of the government. Their only task is to police domestic issues, not fight foreign powers overseas, which is a military function. While in the common vernacular “police” usually refer to officers of a city police department, from a broader legal standpoint “police” can often refer to any person or organization involved in law enforcement. This can include an organization authorized to operate under federal, state, or local laws. Examples of various law enforcement agencies that exercise police powers on behalf of the government include sheriffs, state troopers, city police, U.S. marshals, FBI agents, and many more.

The Role of Police in Society

The main role of police in any civilized nation is to preserve order. As such, their whole reason for being is to enforce criminal laws, reduce civil disorder, and protect people and property. To accomplish this goal, police are granted certain unique powers that other citizens do not have, like the legitimate use force in preventing crime and the power to impose fines for criminal behavior.

Regulation of Police

Of course, having been granted these privileges, it is important for society to closely monitor those who exercise these powers. Temptation to engage in the same activities that the police are supposed to prevent is very real and requires this body of law in order to prevent individuals from contributing to the problems of society rather than policing them. Police laws often mirror constitutional and human rights laws, in that these are often the areas police are likely to stray. For example, an officer who has become frustrated with the criminal justice system is prevented by police laws from beating confessions out of suspects, just as that suspect has a human right against such treatment.

For more information about the laws affecting the police, please click on the links below or check out our Law Firms page where you will find lawyers in your area who can answer your questions.

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Know Your Rights!

  • What are the Laws About Bounty Hunters?

    Most bounty hunters are employed by bail bondsmen; the people who usually post the bail that got the fugitive out of jail after an arrest. The bounty hunter is usually paid about 10% of the total bail amount, though this varies.

Department of Public Safety by State

Police Law - US

  • Bill of Rights - Searches and Seizure

    The Bill of Rights protects us against suspicionless searches and seizures. It guarantees due process to individuals who are accused of crimes and humane treatment to those who are incarcerated. The ACLU works to ensure that our criminal justice system indeed is just.

  • Bureau of Justice Statistics - Law Enforcement

    “Law enforcement” is the term that describes the individuals and agencies responsible for enforcing laws and maintaining public order and public safety. Law enforcement includes the prevention, detection, and investigation of crime and the apprehension and detention of individuals suspected of law violation. The BJS Law Enforcement Unit maintains more than a dozen national data collections covering federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and special topics in law enforcement.

  • Community Oriented Policing Services - Use of Force

    COPS — the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services is the office of the U.S. Department of Justice that advances the practice of community policing in America’s state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies. COPS does its work principally by sharing information and making grants to police departments around the United States.

  • Criminal Procedure - Overview

    The framework of laws and rules that govern the administration of justice in cases involving an individual who has been accused of a crime, beginning with the initial investigation of the crime and concluding either with the unconditional release of the accused by virtue of acquittal (a judgment of not guilty) or by the imposition of a term of punishment pursuant to a conviction for the crime.

  • Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics

    The Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics, the only nonprofit, university-based center of its kind in the United States, was established to foster greater concern for ethical issues among practitioners and scholars in the criminal justice field. Through its diverse programs it serves both as a national clearinghouse for information and as a stimulus to research and publication. It seeks to encourage increased sensitivity to the demands of ethical behavior among those who administer and enforce our system of criminal justice, a more focused treatment of moral issues in the education of criminal justice professionals, and a new dialogue among scholars and practitioners on specific topics in criminal

  • Law Enforcement in the United States - Definition

    Law enforcement in the United States is one of three major components of the criminal justice system, along with courts and corrections. Although there exists an inherent interrelatedness between the different groups that make up the criminal justice system based on their crime deterrence purpose, each component operates independently from one another. However, the judiciary is vested with the power to make legal determinations regarding the conduct of the other two components.

  • Law Enforcement Misconduct Statute

    It shall be unlawful for any governmental authority, or any agent thereof, or any person acting on behalf of a governmental authority, to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers or by officials or employees of any governmental agency with responsibility for the administration of juvenile justice or the incarceration of juveniles that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

  • Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act

    A bill to amend title 18, United States Code, to improve the provisions relating to the carrying of concealed weapons by law enforcement officers, and for other purposes.

  • Miranda Warnings - Your Rights

    The Miranda Warning is a police warning which is given to criminal suspects who are in the custody of law enforcement in the United States before they can ask questions regarding what took place during the crime.

  • USDOJ - Police Misconduct

    The vast majority of the law enforcement officers in this country perform their very difficult jobs with respect for their communities and in compliance with the law. Even so, there are incidents in which this is not the case. This document outlines the laws enforced by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) that address police misconduct and explains how you can file a complaint with DOJ if you believe that your rights have been violated.

Organizations Related to Police Law

  • American Association of State Troopers

    The American Association of State Troopers, Inc., was established as a non-profit fraternal association, offering membership to full-time, active and retired state troopers, highway patrol officers and state police officers. It was incorporated by a National Board of Directors.

  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

    ATF is a unique law enforcement agency in the United States Department of Justice that protects our communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products.

  • Case Law 4 Cops

    I created this website to help police officers find important case law that affects their daily work. If you have ever tried to search other case law websites for a particular point of law, you may get hundreds of unrelated cases. You then have to look through each one until you find a case that covers the subject of your search. Hopefully, this site will make this task a little easier.

  • Central Intelligence Agency

    The Central Intelligence Agency was created in 1947 with the signing of the National Security Act by President Harry S. Truman. The act also created a Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) to serve as head of the United States intelligence community; act as the principal adviser to the President for intelligence matters related to the national security; and serve as head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

  • Department of Homeland Security

    The Department of Homeland Security has a vital mission: to secure the nation from the many threats we face. This requires the dedication of more than 230,000 employees in jobs that range from aviation and border security to emergency response, from cybersecurity analyst to chemical facility inspector. Our duties are wide-ranging, but our goal is clear - keeping America safe.

  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

    The mission of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any other competent jurisdiction, those organizations and principal members of organizations, involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States; and to recommend and support non-enforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances on the domestic and international markets.

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation

    As a threat-based and intelligence-driven national security organization, the mission of the FBI is to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to federal, state, municipal, and international agencies and partners.

  • Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA)

    Welcome to the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA). FLEOA is the largest nonpartisan, nonprofit professional association, exclusively representing federal law enforcement officers. FLEOA represents more than 25,000 federal law enforcement officers from over 65 different agencies.

  • International Police Association - US Section

    The IPA is the largest and oldest worldwide fraternal police organization! Membership is open to ALL active and retired Law Enforcement Officers.

  • National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO)

    The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) is a coalition of police unions and associations from across the United States that serves to advance the interests of America's law enforcement officers through legislative and legal advocacy, political action and education.

  • National Black Police Association

    In November 1972, the National Black Police Association was chartered as a not-for-profit corporation in the state of Illinois following a historic meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. There were thirteen African American Peace Associations present at the meeting with representatives from the host city as well as: New York City and Buffalo, New York; Flint and Detroit, Michigan; Richmond, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, California; Cincinnati, Akron, Dayton, and Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; New Orleans, Louisiana; Baltimore, Maryland; Newark, New Jersey; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Louisville, Kentucky; and Denver, Colorado.

  • National Police Accountability Project (NPAP)

    The National Police Accountability Project (NPAP) was founded with the intent of helping to end police abuse of authority and to provide support for grassroots and victims’ organizations combating police misconduct.

  • National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project

    The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project (NPMSRP), established in April of 2009, is a non-partisan, non-governmental project devoted to help resolve that problem. The NPMSRP gathers data on police misconduct through reports of misconduct made available through the media and generates statistical and trending information based on those reports.

  • National Sheriffs' Association

    Chartered in 1940, the National Sheriffs' Association is a professional association dedicated to serving the Office of Sheriff and its affiliates through education, training, and information resources. NSA represents thousands of sheriffs, deputies and other law enforcement, public safety professionals, and concerned citizens nationwide.

  • Officer.com

    Our mission is clear: deliver today's law enforcement professional with the information and resources you need to do your job.

  • United States Department of Justice

    Our Mission: To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.

  • United States Marshals Service

    The challenges faced today by Marshals and their Deputies are no less demanding than those of the past. In fact, the skills, devotion and determination required to carry out our contemporary responsibilities make the modern Marshals Service a unique and elite cadre of law enforcement professionals. And so, in looking back over our history, we would hope that you recognize and take pride in the fact that this agency is an intimate part of the continuum of the grand American experiment in self-government.

Publications Related to Police Law

  • American Police Beat

    Both the American Police Beat web site (www.apbweb.com) and print publication are targeted to the nation's law enforcement profession and seek to give a voice to the nation's law enforcement professional. The web site and print publication are dedicated to providing a forum where officers can speak out about the numerous issues that impact their personal and professional lives.

  • Drugs, Police and the Law - Police Corruption

    Similar to US alcohol prohibition of the 1920’s, current drug prohibition legislation breeds police corruption and abuse. A 1998 report by the General Accounting Office notes that on-duty police officers involved in drug-related corruption engage in serious criminal activities such as (1) conducting unconstitutional searches and seizures; (2) stealing money and/or drugs from drug dealers; (3) selling stolen drugs; (4) protecting drug operations; (5) providing false testimony; and (6) submitting false crime reports. Approximately half of all police officers convicted as a result of FBI-led corruption cases between 1993 and 1997 were convicted for drug-related offenses and nationwide over 100 cases of drug-related corruption are prosecuted each year. Every one of the federal law enforcement agencies with significant drug enforcement responsibilities has seen an agent implicated.

  • Police - The Law Enforcement Magazine

    Police Magazine is dedicated to providing law enforcement officers of all ranks with information that will help them do their jobs more efficiently, professionally, and safely. Each issue of POLICE includes columns written by police, firearms, and legal experts, as well as topical issue-oriented features produced by leading law enforcement journalists.

  • Police Chief

    The Police Chief (ISSN 0032-2571) is published monthly by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Articles are contributed by practitioners in law enforcement or related fields. Manuscripts must be original work, previously unpublished and not simultaneously submitted to another publisher. No word rate is paid or other remuneration given. Contributors’ opinions and statements are not purported to define official IACP policy or imply IACP endorsement.

  • Principles for Promoting Police Integrity

    Based on recommendations of a 1999 national conference ("Strengthening Police-Community Relationships") that brought together police executives, union representatives, academic experts, and civil rights and community leaders, this booklet presents principles for police practices that build community trust, enhance police accountability, and reduce police misconduct.




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