University of Baltimore Law Review


Although the fifth amendment privilege against compelled self-incrimination applies to all citizens, law enforcement officers traditionally have had to either waive the privilege when subjected to questioning or face punitive personnel action. Courts consistently held that a law enforcement officer's right to retain office depended on a willingness to forego constitutional protections.

The Supreme Court decided several cases beginning in the late 1960's that extended the full fifth amendment privilege to law enforcement officers, but lower courts have misconstrued these cases and have continued to deny fifth amendment protections. In 1974, Maryland became the first of four states to enact a law enforcement officers' bill of rights. Although the Maryland statute is more comprehensive than those in California, Florida, and Virginia, it has received narrow judicial interpretation.

This article first reviews the history of the law enforcement officer's fifth amendment and statutory protections. The article then proposes a Model Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights. This bill insures not only fifth amendment protection, but provides officers with a full complement of substantive and procedural protections.