Constitutional Law: Lessons Learned Recommendations from Civil Rights Litigation

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

  • Especially the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments

Alamance County, NC           Baltimore, MD                Cleveland, OH           East Haven, CT           Ferguson, MO
Los Angeles County, CA       New Orleans, LA            Newark, NJ               New Orleans, LA         Puerto Rico               
Seattle, WA

Avoid the following when determining whether to initiate a search and/or seizure: 

  • Relying on information known to be false or incorrect
  • Using a subject’s demographic characteristics to determine probable cause to conduct a search (race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation, etc.)

Baltimore, MD           Cleveland, OH          Los Angeles County, CA          Newark, NJ          Yonkers, NY           

Warrantless searches of persons and vehicles should not be conducted unless: 

  • Officers have consent to search
  • Officers have probable cause based on specific and articulable facts
  • The search is incident to a lawful arrest
  • The search meets an exception to the warrant requirement under the Fourth Amendment

Alamance County, NC          Cleveland, OH                   Los Angeles County, CA                         Newark, NJ                 Yonkers, NY

Train all officers at least annually on concepts related to searches and seizures

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