Policing | Section 3.1

Fundamentals of Policing

Adam J. McKee, Ph.D.

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The Role of the Constitution  

As the Bill of Rights stood at the time of its passage, it did nothing to prevent the abuse of citizens by their state governments.  It was up to each state to have its own constitutional protections to serve this function. After the civil war, however, many people did not trust the individual states to protect individual liberties, so, in 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution.  The Fourteenth Amendment contains the due process clause, which prohibits the states from treating citizens in a way that is fundamentally unfair.

Because police officers are considered agents of the state, the Fourteenth Amendment put local and state level police officers under the scrutiny of the federal courts.  Over the years, the Supreme Court has used the due process clause to extend most of the other rights protected by the Bill of Rights to the states. Most of this incorporation was done during the Warren Court years, beginning in 1953.  (The “Warren” Court is so called because of a tradition of referring to the court of a particular era by the name of the Chief Justice at that time—in this case, Chief Justice Earl Warren).

Key Terms

References and Further Reading


Modification History

File Created:  08/15/2018

Last Modified:  08/27/2018

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This work is licensed under an Open Educational Resource-Quality Master Source (OER-QMS) License.

Open Education Resource--Quality Master Source License


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