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Chapter Summary and Key Concepts

Chapter 6 reviews how the police are constrained in their efforts to keep order, provide services to citizens, and fight crime.

The Nature of the Police

  • The police decide which laws to enforce, a process known as discretion.

  • James Q. Wilson identified three styles of policing: watchman style, legalistic style, and service style.

  • The watchman style distinguishes between two mandates of policing: order maintenance and law enforcement.

  • The legalistic style exercises little discretion and enforces the law by writing more tickets, making more arrests, and encouraging victims to sign complaints.

  • The service style shares characteristics with the other two styles but focuses primarily on service to the community and the citizens.

The Police Subculture

  • Jerome Skolnick’s term policeman’s working personality explains how law enforcement officers participate in a police subculture that emphasizes different values from those of mainstream society.

  • In 1971, the Knapp Commission issued a report on police corruption in New York City. The report made a distinction between meat-eaters and grass-eaters.

  • Historically, illegal gambling, prostitution, prohibition, and other organized crime activities have been major sources of police corruption.

The Fourth Amendment

  • The text of the Fourth Amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

  • Procedural law controlling the activities of law enforcement is derived from the Fourth Amendment, which specifies a wide range of protections from police activity.

  • The court is concerned with several aspects of searches: the trespass doctrine, the privacy doctrine, the plain-view doctrine, the open-fields doctrine, public places, and abandoned property.

  • Police must have a warrant to conduct a search, with four major exceptions: searches incident to arrest, consent searches, exigent circumstances searches or emergency searches, and vehicle searches.

  • Special-needs searches also do not require warrants. These are inventory searches, border searches, airport searches, searches of prisoners, searches of probationers and parolees, searches of students, and employee drug testing.

  • The police cannot present illegally seized evidence in court.

  • Stop-and-frisk encompasses two distinct behaviors. Stops may be considered seizures and frisks as searches. For a frisk to be lawful, the stop must meet the conditions of a lawful seizure.

  • An arrest involves being taken into custody, photographed, fingerprinted, interrogated, and booked.

  • The court recommends four restrictions to arrest someone at their home: the crime should be a felony, the police must knock and announce, the arrest should be made in daylight, and the police must meet a stringent probable-cause requirement.

  • Individual rights during interrogations stem from the Fifth Amendment self-incrimination clause, the Sixth Amendment right-to-counsel clause, and the Fourteenth Amendment due-process clause.


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