Constitutional Law: Lessons Learned Recommendations from Civil Rights Litigation

Conduct all arrests in accordance with the rights protected by the U.S. Constitution and state and federal laws

  • The First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments are especially significant in the context of policing.

Develop and implement comprehensive policies and procedures that: 

  • Comply with applicable law 
  • Reflect the generally accepted policing practices regarding arrests
  • Are consistent with community priorities for enforcement

Focus policy development on the legal requirements in the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Provide clear guidance to officers regarding different levels of law enforcement-civilian interactions, including: 

  • Consensual encounters
  • Detention with articulable suspicion
  • Arrests predicated on probable cause

Train all officers at least annually on concepts related to arrests

  • Include a review of local, state, and federal laws
  • Engage an instructor with significant experience in First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment issues

The information provided above has come directly from the consent decree language, which can be accessed by clicking on each corresponding city’s consent decree. This information is intended to guide departments on decisions and actions to improve their Constitutional policing practices. Additional resources and information may be needed to implement these recommendations successfully. For assistance in implementing recommendations, contact the Knowledge Lab team.