From Pen to Patrol: How Arizona Law Enforcement Applied Carrillo v. Houser

The Arizona Supreme Court’s interpretation of a law affecting criminal procedure becomes, in theory, the “law of the land” in Arizona. In practice, uniform application of the law can be complex. Because the Court lacks enforcement power, it must rely on law enforcement officers to effectuate its interpretation of a law. This, of course, requires officers to understand the Court’s interpretation and how that interpretation affects their daily duties. Presumably, this starts at an institutional level. That is, law enforcement agencies must inform their officers of evolving case law, provide guidance to their officers for how to comply with that law, and adjust their internal policies accordingly. In Arizona, there are approximately 162 law enforcement agencies, each of which has the authority to set its own training practices and internal policies. Given this latitude among agencies and the inherent difficulty in understanding case law, is it a flawed assumption that the “law of the land” uniformly becomes the “law on the street”?