S. Policing the Police

Course Information

Course Number
Curriculum Level
Areas of Study
Administrative Law and Public Policy, Criminal Law and Procedure
Additional Attributes
Tutorial Seminar

Section 001 Information


Section Description

Both in the U.S. and internationally, policing has undergone fundamental changes over the past decades. Changes in the policing workplace and in the mission of policing have led to new theories and models of policing, changes in the relationships between citizens and police, and a rethinking of the role of policing in the modern world. Recurring criese and challenges to policing have animated new forms of regulation, from constitutional to administrative to democratic regulation. Yet police remain the first line response to problems of disorder and crime, and gatekeepers to the criminal justice system. This seminar will examine theories of the regulation of policing, exploring assumptions about the police function, policy implications for criminal law, and empirical evidence supporting or refuting the effectiveness of particular models of policing and models of police regulation. Specialized topics will include use of force, racially selective enforcement, police discretion, the rise of private policing, civilian review, order maintenance, institutional design of policing, litigation and consent decrees, and the intersection of policing and national security.

The seminar will convene jointly with a parallel seminar at Yale University. The syllabi will be coordinated, and classroom discussions will be shared by video and audio with Yale law students.

Grades will be based on (1) student presentations in class and (2) a final paper. Presentations will be based on capstone projects that students will prepare in teams and present in a workshop format. The paper will be an original work relevant to substantive, methodological, or procedural dimensions of the course work. Think carefully at the outset about an issue or controversy that interests you and can serve as the topical focus of your paper. (The paper may partially fulfill either major or minor writing requirements). The paper will be a comprehensive, thoroughly researched analysis of specific aspects of the law of police and police regulation. The paper should draw upon relevant doctrinal, policy, or behavioral science literature in addition to analyses of caselaw and policy. Students are encouraged to speak with the instructor before finalizing a paper topic. An abstract of your proposed paper is due on October 6, 2023. Papers should be approximately 25-30 pages (including footnotes, in either legal or social science style).

School Year & Semester
Fall 2023
WJWH 416
Class meets on
  • Tuesday
4:20 pm - 6:10 pm
Method of Evaluation
J.D Writing Credit?
Minor (upon consultation)
Major (only upon consultation)

Course Limitations

Instructor Pre-requisites
Instructor Co-Requisites
Recommended Courses
Other Limitations
Limited to 18 students. LLMs: only two of the three course credits will count toward the 24 credit minimum for the NY Bar.