The Law of Police

30 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2015

See all articles by Richard H. McAdams

Richard H. McAdams

University of Chicago Law School

Dhammika Dharmapala

University of Chicago Law School

Nuno Garoupa

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Date Written: February 6, 2015

Abstract

Some Fourth Amendment doctrines distinguish between searches executed by police and others, being more demanding of the former. We explore these distinctions by offering a simple theory for how “police are different,” focusing on self-selection. Those most attracted to the job of policing include those who feel the most intrinsic satisfaction from facilitating the punishment of wrongdoers. Thus, we expect police to have more intensely punitive preferences, on average, than the public or other governmental actors. Some experimental evidence supports this prediction. In turn, stronger punishment preferences logically lower one’s threshold of doubt — the perceived probability of guilt at which one would search or seize a suspect. That police have a lower threshold of doubt plausibly justifies more judicial scrutiny of police searches than of nonpolice searches (as well as more-permissive rules when police perform tasks outside the scope of law enforcement). We also consider and critique Bill Stuntz’s alternative explanation of the relevant doctrine.

Suggested Citation

McAdams, Richard H. and Dharmapala, Dhammika and Garoupa, Nuno, The Law of Police (February 6, 2015). University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 82, 2014; U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 505. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2561497 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2561497

Richard H. McAdams (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-2520 (Phone)

Dhammika Dharmapala

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Nuno Garoupa

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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