Simply put, constitutional policing is policing that follows the U.S. Constitution and upholds people’s civil rights. Constitutional policing ensures that law enforcement officers treat everyone fairly and impartially.
Constitutional policing operates within the boundaries set by the Constitution, court decisions, laws, and regulations. But correct constitutional policing is more than just policies that hold up in court.
A report on constitutional policing by the Police Executive Research Forum points out the difference.
It says police departments should continually examine practices to make sure they “advance the broad constitutional goal of protecting everyone’s civil liberties and providing equal protection under the law.”
A foundation of constitutional policing should inform everything police do. However, there are certain areas where law enforcement leaders should be especially careful to promote constitutional policing.
These include police use-of-force, stop and frisks, issues of racial bias, and interactions with people with mental illness.
In every interaction, police must walk the line of enforcing the law to keep people and communities safe, while also respecting the rights of every individual they interact with.
“The vision of policing in the 21st century should be that of officers as guardians of human and constitutional rights,” says the President’s Task Force.
Once your agency has established a base of constitutional policing, you can then apply and adapt those concepts to your community.