Lesson 1: Police and the Law


Grade Level

5-7 (Topic 1 and 2)
8-10 (Topic 3)


1-3 periods

Lesson Plan (PDF)


Police officers have an important role in our community, which is to protect people and enforce laws. Before anyone can become a police officer, they must undergo specific training. They must adhere to a standard of conduct and face consequences if they do not. In this lesson, students will learn about police and the law through discussion and reading activities.


By the end of this lesson, students will understand:

  • That police officers obey and enforce laws
  • That police officers have a duty to protect people in the community
  • That police officers testify in court
  • What happens when a crime is committed
  • What is involved in reporting a crime and testifying as a witness in court
  • What is involved in police oversight and what are some of the present issues

Focus Questions

  1. What kind of training do police officers receive?
  2. What are the duties of a police officer?
  3. When a crime is committed: What does a witness do? What does a police officer do?
  4. What could happen if you commit a crime?
  5. Who is responsible for ensuring that police officers act professionally?
  6. What are some of the issues surrounding police oversight?

Teaching Summary

Topic 1: The Role of the Police

Students will read Handout 1: Police and the Law and will then discuss the duties of a police officer. They will apply what they learned by answering eight true or false questions on Handout 2: What Do Police Officers Do?

Topic 2: What Happens When a Crime is Committed

Students will read the information on Handout 3: What Happens When a Crime is Committed? and discuss issues of identification and testifying as a witness. What happens when you are charged with a crime is also covered including arrest and going to court.

Topic 3: Police Oversight

Students will read Handout 4: Police Oversight and debate the issue of whether police should be in charge of their own oversight.