What specific restrictions are placed on police officers by the Bill of Rights?

Expert Answers
larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The  Bill of Rights does not specifically address restrictions which apply to Police Officers; but it does provide certain rights to all individuals which any agent of the government, including the police, cannot violate. Among these are:

The right against self incrimination provided by the Fifth Amendment. The warnings prescribed in Miranda vs. Arizona("you have the right to remain silent) are pursuant to this provision of the Fifth Amendment, as if one speaks, he may unwittingly become a witness against himself.

  • The right of protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, as provided under the Fourth Amendment. The operative word, of course, is "reasonable," and has been the matter of considerable debated and judicial discourse. In sum, however, the police must act "reasonably" in searching premises, including the necessity of obtaining a warrant if practicable.
  • The right against arbitrary arrest is also protected under the Fourth Amendment. There must be probable cause that one has committed a crime. One cannot be arrested simply for "looking suspicious."
  • Although not part of the Bill of Rights, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution has been construed to extend most (but not all) of the protections of the Bill of Rights against violation by state officials. Those enumerated above are particularly protected.


bor | Student

The 1st AM gives a person the "freedom of movement/locomotion". This is a sub category of free speech and freedom of assembly.

When a person is exercising these rights, the police can not interfere.

What is and is not free speech will not be outlined here, let's just assume the right is being exercised legally for thread purposes.

The 8th AM protects inmates from cruel and unusal punishment. These jails/prisons/workhouses, etc., can be manned by the Police,  the Sheriff's office, Correction's officer's, ALL constrained by the 8th.

 A "Peace Officer" can inlcude many positions of operatives working under "Color of Law", Police, Sheriff, Marshall, etc.

Under 4th AM case law, at one time under the constitution it was permissable to take a person in "for questioning" absent probable cause, but since 1979, that was declared UNconstitutional.

Although the 4th does not address the requisite for arrest warrants, just search warrants, the case law states the same is needed for an arrest and also to secure an arrest warrant, as Larry stated, Probable Cause.

You have heard the phraseology, he is "under arrest for SUSPICION of burglary", it is simply that, terminology, probable cause is needed.