BLOCK:                             CONSTITUTIONAL LAW                          CLASS: A

INSTRUCTOR:                                                               TIME ALLOTTED:      30       hrs.

DATE FILED:       12/15/2004                                   REPLACES:      03-12-1993    





The study of the basic concepts of Constitutional Law are the logical starting place for any course of law enforcement instruction.  A knowledge of basic Constitutional Law is essential to most other blocks of study in the Basic Recruit program, and makes the difference between an officer who can effectively enforce laws, and the officer who is constantly running afoul of the Criminal Justice system.  The powers given to law enforcement by the Constitution are immense, including decisions of life and death, but they are not limitless.  In order to be effective, a peace officer must know what he or she is empowered to do, as well as what he/she is not allowed to do.  Only with this knowledge can he/she make the split-second decisions that protect the officer, apprehend the criminal, and result in enforcement actions that can later be defended in court.


This course will look at the Bill of Rights, especially the First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments, and the Fourteenth Amendment which has, over time, been used to make these Federal guidelines apply to local law enforcement.  We study in depth the application of the Fifth Amendment to the obtaining of incriminating statements from suspects, and look briefly at how the attachment of Sixth Amendment rights changes how interrogations can be done.  We then turn to the Fourth Amendment and explore the various powers to search and seize evidence granted to peace officers, looking at the search warrant, and various exceptions to the Fourth Amendment search warrant requirement.  Finally, the concept of peace officer liability, both civil and criminal, is explored.  When completed, the successful recruit will have a clear idea of the principles governing peace officer actions and will be able to apply these to new situations when they arise, both in other blocks and, most importantly, on the street.




The trainee will be able to:


PART I – INTRODUCTION TO LEGAL BLOCKS (suggested time 2 hours)


1.     Identify the differences between civil and criminal law as it regards:


a.  The persons involved.            c.            The level of information required to find responsible.

b.  The actions that get one involved.            d.            The potential penalties.


2.     Identify the following regarding the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution:


a.  Which Amendments are included.

b.  What the Bill of Rights “does,” in general terms.

c.  The basic provisions of the 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments applying to peace officers.


3.     Identify the following regarding the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:


a.  The relationship between the laws of the Federal and State governments which it established.

b.  The effect of the Amendment on the average citizen in terms of citizenship and legal expectations.

c.  The effect on local law enforcement officers.


4.     Identify the following regarding the organization of the Federal and State governments:


a.  The three branches into which the government is divided.

b.  The branch of government of which he/she is a part, the branch which uses his/her work, and the difficulty this difference presents.


5.     Identify the following regarding the concept of "right and remedy":


a.  The relationship between rights and remedies.

b.      The role the Exclusionary Rule plays in protecting his/her Constitutional Rights and those of other citizens.