What Is the Police Authority? | Free Essay Example

What Is the Police Authority?

Words: 1414
Topic: Law

Definition of police authority

The police authority is the power vested in police officers and the police as an institution to enforce criminal law and preserve the public peace. Policing is a mandate of states, which is supposed to ensure that the health, safety, morals, and welfare of the inhabitants of a particular state in the United States are sustained for the benefit of everyone.

Through laws, states allow their police divisions to accomplish their missions of ensuring the safety, order, and peace of everyone prevails. The authority of police emerged from common law, where order prevails when people can use their rights, belongings, resources, and opportunities without hurting or preventing others from doing the same.

Police authority varies according to the state where it is applied. For example, police professionals serving in the New York Police Department cannot exercise their authority in the Los Angeles Police Department, unless there are joint programs being carried out by the policing institutions of the two states.

Given that different states enact their laws, police officers may find themselves with authority that is not similar to their peers in other states. However, there are ordinary police authorities recognized throughout the United States, as they relate to the prevention and punishment of criminal and any other unlawful activity to sustain law and order in society (Lyman, 2009).

Various types of police authority that exists in the police profession

In many states, police professionals have the permission to exercise authority to investigate criminal offenses that occur anywhere within a particular state. They serve as the overall power to stop illegal activities and must accomplish their mandate of investigation using all the resources available to them (Conser, Paynich, Gingerich, & Gingerich, 2013).

The police authority to search and arrest is possible without a warrant when there is probable cause for making a lawful arrest. The authority to search and arrest may also be availed in situations where courts determine that the public good that will be advanced by the exercise of this authority and there is a significant need for a seizure. There also exists police authority to interrogate. However, police have to observe the authority based on a particular case; for example, when a suspects’ Sixth Amendment right to counsel in post-indictment interviews with law enforces does not prohibit a law enforcer from bringing questions related to other cases other than the one that the suspect has a right to counsel. By default, the police will exercise the power to interrogate, unless there are lawful prohibitions against the authority (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2008).

The police authority to arrest refers to the lawful seizure of one person by a police officer or a law enforcement officer under circumstances that are permitted by the law. The authority extends to the detention of people who have committed a crime. It may also apply to someone caught committing or planning to commit an offense. The motivation for the authority is to maximize the safety of people by stopping the current crimes and future criminal activities.

Authority to seek a warrant for arrest gives police professionals the power to obtain permission from a judge to compel any police officer to make an arrest of a suspect. On the other hand, the officers also enjoy the authority to use a search warrant to gather evidence against a suspected criminal.

How each type assists the police in professionally/legally administration of their duties?

The authority to make an arrest is part of state law that allows officers to ensure that there are no violations of state laws. When everyone obeys state laws, there is order in society, and the police professionals achieve their objective of sustaining public order. Special authorities to make arrests for state officers in federal cases or federal officers in state cases also make sense when there are insufficient resources for only one type of officer to effectively use the authority. The authority provides the officers with the legal ability to use force, intimidation, and threats to use force or legal authority. This leads to high compliance rates for people who are being arrested (Varone, 2014).

Authority to seek an arrest warrant allows police officers to extend their capabilities of apprehending a suspect beyond their locality or legal jurisdiction. Police offers also have the power to issue a misdemeanor citation, book the criminal in jail, or take the subject directly before a magistrate. The function of these powers is to expedite the law enforcement process and make the delivery of justice as efficient as possible. The officers can commit their resources to solving other cases using the various powers mentioned above, instead of being bogged down by one case whose details may be very straightforward.

The power to arrest allows police officers to prevent additional harm from happening in society. They take the suspect out of a location where he or she would probably do harm. This authority can be useful in different cases, such as when someone is fighting other people, stealing or intends to steal, selling contraband items, making disturbances in public, and conducting himself or herself beyond the accepted public norms.

The authority to investigate the criminal offenses allows officers to gather evidence to support a claim or abandon a case. This option eventually leads the officer to make the correct arrest and prosecution. Investigations ensure that the lives and the rights of people are not violated in any way and that only the deserving suspects are arrested.

Investigations also allow the officers to play catch up to criminals without their knowledge in a way that does not cause them to change their plans and fool the police officers. An example of the usefulness of the authority to investigate is the case of wrongful convictions that arise because officers gather and rely on the wrong evidence. The court process requires officers to make comprehensive investigations prevent cases of wrongful conviction (Huff & Killias, 2013).

Explanation of how each, if any, may hinder the police in performing their police duties

The authority to arrest may hinder the police from succeeding in their duty to maintain law and order. For example, a police officer may face a civil liability suit if they use excessive force to make an arrest. This can cause the case against a suspect to be dismissed for the wrongful procedure when making an arrest, and will be an adverse outcome for the police officer.

The authority to arrest does not punish an officer if he or she mistakes the guilty appearance of a defendant as an admission or probable reason for suspecting him or her. Therefore, there is a likelihood of police officers arresting individuals who show fear of police officers, even though the detainees may not have committed crimes (Waldron, Quarles, McElreath, Waldron, & Milstein, 2009).

The authority to search and arrest can be in violation of the Fourth Amendment in the United States, which grants people the right to remain secure when the proper procedures are not followed, and when the police person exercising the authority does not do so in good faith. If officers make an error when exercising the authority to search and arrest, then they compromise the case against a suspect.

The law states that the evidence that officers collect in an unlawful way is not permissible in court. Therefore, the power to search and arrest can also be a cause for failure to maintain law and order, and prevent the execution of future crimes by a suspect. The authority to use warrants can fail to protect police action when the officers go ahead and make a warrant action before getting the warrant. Often, the burden to prove that a search or arrest was lawful lies with the police officer. In some cases of consented search, the consenting party may trick the officers to make a search and then deny later.

The power to use search warrants depends on the availability of judges to issue the warrants when they are needed. In some cases, crime prevention fails because the time taken to obtain warrants and the window of opportunity for making arrests does not match. Therefore, officers are left with an authority that they are unable to exercise. For example, a suspect who is aware of the search warrant restrictions that a police officer faces may decide to get rid of any incriminating evidence while police officers pursuing a criminal case wait for a judge to issue the search warrant (Varone, 2014).


Conser, J. A., Paynich, R., Gingerich, T. E., & Gingerich, T. (2013). Law enforcement in the United States. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Huff, C. R., & Killias, M. (Eds.). (2013). Wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice: Causes and remedies in North American and European criminal justice systems. New York, NY: Routledge.

Lyman, M. D. (2009). The police: An introduction (4th ed.). New York, NY: Prentice Hall.

Varone, J. C. (2014). Legal considerations for fire and emergency services. Tulsa, OK: Pennwell Corporation.

Waldron, R. J., Quarles, C. L., McElreath, D. H., Waldron, M. E., & Milstein, D. E. (2009). The criminal justice system: An introduction (5th ed.). Tulsa, OK: K&M Publishers.

Wolters Kluwer Law & Business. (2008). Casenote legal briefs. Criminal law : Keyed to courses using Boyce, Dripps, and Perkins’s criminal law and procedure (10th ed.). New York, NY: Aspen Law & Business.