Police officers have broad authority and discretion to enforce order — they can take property, stop, detain, and arrest people — at times under threat of lethal force. With such great power comes a significant risk of abuse, evidenced by the high-profile instances of brutality and misconduct. The challenge of regulating police is crafting effective and tailored rules to allow police officers to do their jobs of maintaining public safety and promoting order without infringing on individual rights or causing other unintended harm. In this conversation, we explore the laws that regulate the police with Professor Rachel Harmon of UVA Law and the director of its Center for Criminal Justice.
In part 1 of this 2-part series, Professor Harmon explains the jurisprudential framework of policing. She then explores the constitutional and statutory limits of police conduct, including the use of deadly and non-deadly force in police-citizen encounters, arrests for protests and verbal opposition, and “contempt of cop” or retaliatory arrests.
Watch Part 2 of Policing the Police.