Friday, January 10, 2020


Law Enforcement Officers are required and expected to know all criminal and traffic laws, throughout the officer’s training he/she will be exposed to case law, criminal law, traffic law, civil law, etc. This isn’t all at once though, it occurs as an on-going training requirement governed by the state regulating the training required to maintain a Law enforcement certification. 

Laws change all the time, hence officers have to go through refresher courses or are taught the changes in roll call trainings, or briefings sanctioned at the officer’s home agency.

The reality is that any normal officer with experience will have a substantial knowledge of the law within his/her jurisdiction. However, no officer knows from memory all laws verbatim. Often times in fact officers tend to review the law before making any kind of major decision to make sure that the incident or criminal action is being addressed properly. 

LEOs are not lawyers, we are paid to enforce the law and maintain order. That being said, after working the street for a awhile and making a lot of arrests associated with varying charges…majority of officers know the major laws and how they apply.

If an officer doesn’t understand a law or are unsure about what to do in reference to determining if an action meets the criteria for a violation of law they have a few options; he/she can ask co-workers to see if any of them have the answer, if that doesn’t work he/she can call the supervisor on duty requesting some help, if that doesn’t work either he/she can contact the states attorney on duty and they will have an answer. The point is that LEOs have help when faced with a situation or incident where we aren’t exactly sure on how to move forward when it comes to applying the law.

Enforcing the law isn’t an easy thing to do, the laws change all the time, and the way they are enforced also changes all the time. It may seem like it is black and white, however that isn’t the case. It is up to Law enforcement to be that Grey area, that deciding factor that steps in to determine whether or not something is a violation of law and requires further action. 

Learning the law and maintaining an understanding of the law requires officers to constantly be studying the law through in-service courses, roll call trainings, or even just simply taking the time to read the actual law and understand what is being said. It isn’t hard and the resources are available to everyone interested in learning and understanding the law.

LEOs Aren’t Lawyers…But Do Know The Law!