Constitutional Decision-Making for Law Enforcement: Protecting Civil Rights While Pursuing Justice
IADLEST is developing cutting-edge legal training resources designed to support constitutional decision-making for law enforcement professionals. The training resources will be free, available to any officer, and ideal for basic academy settings, field training, in-service, or roll call.
Help Shape National Resources
IADLEST seeks examples from the field to help build the project team’s understanding of what resources are currently being used to train officers in constitutional authority. U.S.-based law enforcement agencies and trainers are invited to contact the project team if they have resources that they are willing to share. We are specifically seeking examples of lessons, practical exercises, scenarios, job aids, videos, and other training tools focused on understanding constitutional authority, parameters, and responsibilities.
What is Constitutional Policing?
Constitutional Policing is defined as policing conducted within the parameters of the U.S. Constitution and informed by state constitution(s) and federal and state court decisions, which together define roles and responsibilities of law enforcement agencies and personnel in terms of everyday practices.
Constitutional policing provides a framework to ensure fair, impartial, and effective enforcement of the law that is consistent with constitutional principles, democratic values, and community expectations. Policing practices are constitutional when law enforcement officers respect, value, and uphold the rights and freedoms granted by the U.S. Constitution and other legal requirements to all people in this country.
Training on constitutional decision-making serves as the foundation of policing; the U.S. Constitution establishes the outer boundaries of law enforcement authority. If an officer does not fully comprehend how to operationalize their understanding of how the Constitution defines and influences their roles and responsibilities in everyday practices, there can be significant consequences for officers, agencies, and the public.
Every officer swears an oath to support the United States (U.S.) Constitution, but there is often a gap in competence and confidence when officers must make decisions or act to uphold rights and abide by parameters outlined in the Constitution. It is difficult to make constitutional decisions if an officer is not certain what their options are.
Law enforcement officers must understand what they can and cannot do under the U.S. Constitution and apply that understanding in an unbiased way, especially in high stress situations. Increased competence and confidence in officers, particularly around constitutional rights, and responsibilities, is a desired outcome for every trainer, academy director, supervisor, law enforcement leader, and community member.
About the Project
In 2022 IADLEST received funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance to provide training support to the nation’s law enforcement agencies on topics related to constitutional policing.
The project goal is to provide free training resources that increase the competence and confidence of officers related to their constitutional authority, parameters, and responsibilities. This includes strengthening officer understanding about the constitutionality of daily decisions they make.
The project team invites people who are interested in learning more about this project, sharing constitutional policing resources, or discussing what types of training resources would be most beneficial to the field to contact us. Project Manager Dianne Beer-Maxwell can be reached at Dianne@iadlest.org.
This project was supported by Contract No. 15PBJA-22-GK-03711-JAGT awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.