Although the Supreme Court has addressed the Fourth Amendment and police use of force on countless occasions, the two most significant court cases involved Graham and Garner. The first case (Graham versus Connor) involved the detention and release of a suspicious person whereby a City of Charlotte officer M.S. Connor was alleged to use unreasonable force (Gaines 110). This case influenced police conduct as the Supreme Court established what evolved to be the reflectively reasonable standard. The court ruled that rather than using 20/20 hindsight, assessing whether a particular use of force was acceptable from the viewpoint of a reasonable officer present at the scene is necessary.
On the other hand, the court ruling in the Tennessee versus Garner case redefined when the police can apply violent efforts to stop a fleeing suspect. The decision requires that the officer must establish reasonable grounds to confirm that the felon poses a considerable threat to either him, his team or the civilians within the vicinity before force can be applied. This ruling has influenced how the police do their job by overturning a Tennessee law that previously permitted the use of deadly force against a fleeing offender, even if they posed no immediate threat to anyone (Gaines 140). The decision further redefined the use of force guidelines across the different states in the country. The following paragraph explains how courts play an important role in regulating police conduct.
Generally, different courts, particularly the Supreme Court, approve and uphold constitutional statutes that, through various court rulings, offer the most common oversight of police behavior. For instance, the Fourth Amendment’s “probable cause” criterion must be satisfied before police can perform a search or execute an arrest, as stipulated by both the courts and the Constitution. In addition, courts mandate that suspects detained without a warrant should be presented before qualified authorities for a timely determination of probable cause within the shortest time possible (Sekhon 1720). Such requirements define how law enforcement agencies can balance between administering justice, upholding the rule of law, and offering essential services. This is because the timing and methods of police deployment to carry out their duties impact how the general population and the entire judicial system interact.
Gaines, Larry K., and Roger LeRoy Miller. Criminal Justice in Action. Cengage Learning, (2021), pp. 96-163.
Sekhon, Nirej. Police and the limit of law. Columbia Law Review 119.6 (2019), pp. 1711-1772.